Hacienda La Alegria riding holiday in Ecuador - Far and Ride
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Hacienda La Alegria, Ecuador




Programmes


• Volcano Ride

• Wild Andes Expedition

 

Reviews



I loved my trip. it was amazing. A very enriching experience with views of the landscape that varied in great detail. The lodges were really awesome - Fireplaces everywhere! The food was so good! Gabriel (host) was awesome and his wife Patty, so gracious. Overall a wonderful place to stay and the ride... it was a real adventure, never to be forgotten. No rushing to meet deadlines, and it was just a very enriching experience, all the way around. So glad I went there!!!! Loved it!

Melinda C. (Volcano Ride)
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Most have been bred on the farm from mixed Criollo (native South American), English Thoroughbred and Arabian stock.

Nature of horses:

The breeding at the Hacienda has resulted in the near perfect combination of ease of ride, stamina, agility, calm temperament and "mountain sense".

Height of horses:

14 - 16.2hh

Weight limit:

90kg / 210lbs

Tack type:

A range of tack is available including Western, English style, 'McClellan' cavalry, Chilean and traditional Ecuadorian "Chagra" style with its intricate leather-work and saddle horn.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Hacienda La Alegria specialises in horseback riding in the beautiful surroundings of the high Andes of Ecuador. Your host Gabriel Espinosa comes from a family steeped in equestrian tradition, and his enthusiasm for riding and horses is at the core of everything at La Alegria. All abilities are catered for from experienced riders to total beginners.

The Hacienda itself is nestled in the lush Machachi valley, and set in a 135-hectare organic dairy farm and ranch. Built more than a century ago in the Franco-Italian style and filled with historic charm, the Hacienda's large rooms are enclosed in thick adobe walls with high ceilings and original hardwood floors.

Multi-day trips travelling through the high mountains, cloud forests and paramo (high grasslands) of the Andes are a truly magical experience in one of the most breath-taking locations on earth. Experience riding through beautiful, diverse terrain in the longest continental mountain range in the world. Sub-tropical cloud forests, high open grasslands, rolling mountains and volcanoes in one of the most bio-diverse places left on earth make Ecuador a unique place.

Most of the horses have been bred on the farm from mixed Criollo (native South American), English Thoroughbred and Arabian stock, resulting in a near perfect combination of toughness, agility, calm temperament and "mountain sense". Beginners and experienced riders alike have found them easy to ride, willing and good mannered. If you have previous riding experience you will be given plenty of opportunity to canter.

A range of tack is available including Western, English style, 'McClellan' cavalry, Chilean and traditional Ecuadorian "Chagra" style with its intricate leather-work and saddle horn.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Depending on your chosen itinerary you will stay in Hacienda La Alegria, local haciendas (historic country houses), mountain lodges or a campsite with communal fire area inside a mountain refuge and toilets.

Nestled in the lush Machachi valley, Hacienda La Alegria is set in a 135-hectare organic dairy farm and ranch. Built more than a century ago in the Franco-Italian style and filled with historic charm, the Hacienda's large rooms are enclosed in thick adobe walls with high ceilings and original hardwood floors.

Hacienda La Alegria is environmentally friendly and use organic produce, they conserve energy and water and produce compost.

All meals are included featuring delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian foods. Wine and beer is also included.

 

Activities

Hacienda La Alegria is dedicated to low impact tourism and offers a variety of activities for those interested in the ecology of the immensely bio-diverse region.

There are multiple options for both riders and non-riders including trekking in 'Volcano Avenue', visiting Indian markets, day excursions to the cloud forest, national parks and volcanos such as Cotopaxi, be a Chagra (cowboy) for a day, Chagras roping skill demonstration, spending time milking cows and feeding calves on the organic dairy farm, rock climbing, abseiling, cave visits, cooking lessons in Ecuadorian cuisine, and visits to Quito.

 

Further Details

Languages: English and Spanish

Health requirements: Fit and healthy, able to withstand high altitudes and ride for long periods of time over several days.

Age limit: 12yrs+ (15% discount for children under 15yrs)

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation; all meals, with picnic lunches during trails, all drinks with meals, including wine and beer; horse riding, with all riding equipment including wool ponchos, rain ponchos, chaps, helmets and saddlebags; bilingual Spanish/English guide and 4x4 support vehicle.

Not included: Travel insurance, flights and airport transfers.

 

Travel Information

Return airport transfers from and to Quito airport (1hr travel time) can be arranged.

Small car (less than 3 pax): US$45 round trip
Larger car/mini bus (> 3 pax): US$60 round trip

If you are travelling in a large group, or require a transfer other than to Quito or the airport, then please let us know.

Airport: Quito airport (Mariscal Sucre International)

 

Programmes


Volcano Ride



Experience the beauty of the Ecuadorian Andes on horseback. Each morning brings new experiences and a chance to contemplate the beauty of the mountains and valleys.  As you ride, friendly chagras (cowboys of the Ecuadorian Andes), usually take a break from their work to greet you and exchange news. The trail incorporates rides by Corazon, Illinizas and Quilotoa volcano. You may also get the chance to view the highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, on the horizon, but due to current activity in the area it is not currently possible to ride close to her.

Please note that it may be possible to alter the itinerary depending on local conditions such as weather or volcanic activity, but always with your best interests at heart.

Day 1:

Depending on your arrival hour you can meet the horses and have a short ride, followed by dinner at the hacienda.

Accommodation: La Alegria

Day 2:

Ride in the arena and try the horses and a variety of tack so that you can be paired with a suitable horse that you will enjoy. Afterwards ride around the neighbouring Haciendas in the west Andes. Today is designed to help you get acclimatised to the altitude, so you will experience your first ascent and descent but only ride for around 4 hours. Afterwards you will have lunch in the Hacienda, visit the milking barn, the aging cheese cave and enjoy the hot tub.

Accommodation: La Alegria

Riding time: 4 hours

Day 3:

After breakfast you set out on your first ride, crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests and getting your first spectacular view of the "Avenue of Volcanoes". From here you can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and view the route you will be taking over the next few days, across the eastern mountain chain.

Ascend along Corazon volcano up to 4000 metres and then descend into the cloud forest. In this now endangered ecosystem you can observe a great biodiversity of plants and flowers, including giant guneras, orchids, and birds. In the afternoon you will ride to Hacienda Bomboli at a height of 3000 metres and relax by the fireplace enjoying the sunset and watching the lights of the villages near the coast while being served a hearty meal.

Accommodation: Hacienda Bomboli

Riding hours: 6 hours

Day 4:

In the morning you will have the chance to walk through the hacienda's gardens to learn about the incredible variety of orchids and cloud forest plants.

You then set out riding up hill, admiring the forest and the hundreds of plants and flowers. You ride along an ancient road which was built in 1873 to connect Quito to the coast, and arrive back at Hacienda LaAlegria in time for a late lunch. In the afternoon you can relax or enjoy the hot tub or fireplace.

Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria

Riding hours: 6 hours

Day 5:

Today's ride is a long one. You are first transferred by vehicle one hour south of the hacienda to start your four day journey into the southern Andes. You set out riding along an old Inca trail, along dirt paths and roads which lead to Sigchos - this village is known as the last home of the Inca general Ruminahui. Your adventure from here will take you through dramatic landscapes including steep ravines and narrow passages. Even though you can see where you are heading and it looks close, there are many mountain chains to cross before reaching your destination. The area is a combination of forest, rock peaks and land which has eroded over the last centuries. You arrive at Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guesthouse in time for a good meal, jacuzzi and sauna. Here your horses will be able to graze on lush grasses in the paddocks.

Accommodation: Hacienda San Jose

Riding time: 8 hours

Day 6:

After breakfast you set off south to the Quilotoa crater lake. Your trail heads west along a high mountain route where you will see a smattering of farms with dairy cattle or making cheese. As you head down into the canyon the land is very dry and the soil is composed of pumice from the eruption of Quilotoa volcano in 1280. In the afternoon you arrive at the summit of Quilotoa at 3800 metres and view the breathtaking Quiltoa crater lake.

Quilotoa is a crater lake caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The 3km caldera was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following an eruption.

Accommodations: Quilotoa Hostel, beside the crater

Riding hours: 8 hours

Day 7:

There is time this morning to take a short walk for photos of the crater lake before mounting to ride down the volcano on a beautiful old path. It takes half a day to descend into the canyon, passing a few villages which may remind you of old photographs of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! The volcanic pumice and dry soil makes this a really poor area for agriculture and so there are only a few people living here.

You then ride into the paramo (above the treeline but below the harsh mountain tops) and the change in soil and water makes a difference. After crossing several hills you reach a small village called Insilivi which was founded in 1857. You stay in a hostel which was started 16 years ago by a UK entrepreneurial lady but is now Dutch owned.

Accommodations: Insilivi hostel

Riding hours: 4 hours

Day 8:

Your final day in the region sees you riding along several narrow paths as you ascend to the high Andes paramo, from where you can view the scenery stretching from one valley to another. The colours on the mountain sides make it easy to see where the paramo changes to eroded land and then farmland. Continue your ride until reaching Hacienda La Alegria for a final dinner.

Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria

Riding hours: 6 hours

Day 9:

Transfer back to Quito airport



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 12
Ability description: Intermediate and above with ability to ride long hours at altitude. The Hacienda caters for children of 12+ to go on trails, please contact us to discuss suitability if you wish to travel with children.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 7 days riding, 5-6 hours riding per day on average.
Departure dates: 2017: 13-21 January (confirmed), 17-25 February (confirmed), 7-15 April, 5-13 May, 2-10 June, 7-15 July, 4-12 August, 22-30 September, 13-21 October, 24 November-2 December.
 
Pricing: 2017:
£1860 per person, minimum of 2 to confirm trail
Single supplement: £116

10% discount for under 15 years old



Wild Andes Expedition



The south western Andes is a fabulous region of remote indigenous communities, cloud forests, thermal springs and volcanoes. This exhilarating and adventurous ride is designed for those looking for cultural immersion and amazing scenery. On the first few days the riders will have time to acclimatise to the altitude and the new environment, as well as opportunity to try a variety of horses.

Day 1:

Depending on your arrival hour, you can meet the horses and have a short ride, followed by dinner at the hacienda. Accommodation: La Alegria

Day 2:

Ride in the arena and try the horses and a variety of tack so that you can be paired with a suitable horse. Afterwards ride around the neighbouring haciendas of the western Andes. Today is designed to help you acclimatise to the altitude and will be your first introduction to the high Andes, therefore you only ride for four hours. Afterwards you will have lunch in the hacienda, visit the milking barn, the aging cheese cave and enjoy the hot tub. Accommodation: La Alegria.  Riding time: 4 hours

Day 3:

This morning you will ride west towards the Corazon at 4000 metres before descending into the cloud forest. Your ride takes you through three different ecosystems - the valley, paramo and cloud forest. In the cloud forest you can see a great biodiversity of plants and flowers including giant guneras, orchids and birds, such as the turkey of the forest (guan). In the afternoon you will arrive for tea at Hacienda Bomboli (at 3000 metres). You can relax by the fireplace, enjoying the sunset and watching the lights of the villages near the coast after a great meal. You will spend the night here. Riding time: 6 hours

Day 4:

Today you leave the cloud forest behind and ride along an ancient road which until 1960 connected Quito with the coast. From there you can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and can view the routes you will be taking the next day along the East mountain chain.  After crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests you stop in the valley for a snack before returning to Hacienda La Alegria for the night.  Riding time: 6 hours

Day 5:

This morning you are transferred by car for one hour, to a point south of Hacienda la Alegria, where you will begin your 6 day adventure into the Southern Andes. You start by riding along an ancient Inca trail and dirt roads and paths that take you to Sigchos - this village is known as the last home of the Inca general Ruminahui. From this day on you will ride through a dramatic landscape including steep ravines and narrow passages. Even though you will be able to see where you are heading, it will appear nearer than it really is and you will have to cross many mountain chains to get there. The area is a combination of forest, rock peaks, and eroded land from centuries past. You arrive at the Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guest house in time for a good meal, jacuzzi, sauna and rest. Here the horses will have fields of lush grass which will be the last of this expedition.  Riding time: 8  hours

Day 6

After breakfast your ride will take you South to the Quilotoa crater lake. The trail follows the bottom of the Toachi canyon where you will enjoy lunch. There are only a few farming villages and houses here as the land is very dry and the soil is composed of pumice from the eruption of Quilotoa volcano in 1280. It is a challenging ride to the Quilotoa summit at 3800 metres above sea level, from where you can witness an amazing view of the breathtaking Quilotoa crater lake.  Quilotoa is a crater lake caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andres. The three kilometer wide caldere was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following a catastrophic eruption . Elevation: 12,841'  (3,914m)  Last Eruption:1280. Overnight in a hostel close to the crater lake. Riding time: 8+ hours

Day 7:

You continue your ride into the High Andes by riding firstly through the village of Zumbahua and then onwards until reaching an isolated homestead of about fifty families, where there are no roads and the only connection to civilisation is via a three hour path to Angamarca. You will see llama herds which are still used as pack animals as well as sheep guided by children working as shepherds. Today will be an intense riding day and will be the climax of your adventure. You are some of the first tourists to arrive in this area, where you will be camping overnight and using one of the grass huts for a kitchen. Your hosts are helping the community to make a path to the East to enable the locals to sell their products to larger markets and to get better prices for their produce of cheese, potatoes, broad beans and barley. You will be camping overnight here at Guambaine. Riding time: 8+ hours

Day 8:

This morning you will have the chance to watch a sunrise over the high cloud forests and mountains. As you head away from the settlement you will experience the beautiful 'paramo', a montane ecosystem above the continuous treeline but below the highest mountain peaks. Here there are lots of small farms, many producing milk - 50% of the milk produced in Ecuador comes from farms of less than 5 acres. The afternoon will provide you with views into a ravine from the Chimborazo volcano, the highest in Ecuador at 6300 metres. Alongside the river in the ravine runs an old road built in the 1830s called "camino de Flores"  being the first road to connect the highlands with the coast. In the afternoon you  arrive at Salado where there are hot springs and camp will be set up so you can enjoy a BBQ dinner. Riding time: 7 hours

Day 9:

The expedition continues along the skirt of the Chimborazo mountain.

The terrain is varied and challenging with dry plateaus, swampy paramo

areas and rocky mountain sides where you will hopefully see herds of wild

vicunas running along in the open terrain. Overnight will be in the

Chimborazo refuge.

Carihuairazo is a volcanic caldera adjacent to Ecuador's highest mountain Chimborazo. Elevation:16,463' (5,018m). First ascent: 1951 Prominence: 2,034' (6210m). Chimborazo is a currently inactive stratovolcano in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD. Elevation: 20,564' (6,268m). First ascent:1880.  Prominence:13,524' (4,122m)

 Riding time: 8+ hours

Day 10:

The last day of the expedition will be in the Tungurahua area that has been affected over the last 14 years by volcanic ash and periodic eruptions. This ride completes your journey, bringing you east through fertile fields of potatoes, beans and cash crops grown around mountain villages on the sides of the Igualata volcano. You descend all the way down from 4000 metres to 2400 metres. As you head down the volcanic terrain you will traverse through the Chambo canyon to the slopes of the Tungurahua volcano where you camp overnight with impressive views. The horses will return to the hacienda and you will stay on in Banos and overnight here. Riding time: 8+ hours

Day 11:

Today you will take a short journey to the town of Banos to visit the hot springs. Banos is a very unique city that is the entrance to the Amazon jungle region and well known for its thermal water springs. You return to the Hacienda by vehicle for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Overnight at the Hacienda Alegria. No riding today.

Day 12:

You will be transferred to the airport after breakfast.



Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria
Hacienda Bomboli
Hacienda San Jose
Mountain hostel
Camping
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: Experienced and physically fit riders only. Long days of 7-9 hours in the saddle. Riding at high altitude and over mountainous terrain.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 11 nights 10 days riding days.
Departure dates: 2017: 27 January-7 February (confirmed), 3-14 March, 18-29 August, 8-19 September, 10-21 November, 8-19 December.
 
Pricing: 2017:
£2480 per person in shared accommodation, minimum of 2 participants required to confirm the trail. Please check the office to see if trail confirmed
Single supplement: £116