Riding: No riding.
Arrival in Quito. You will be met at the airport when your flight lands and be transferred up to the luxurious Hacienda. Here you will be personally welcomed by your host family who will discuss with you your personal preferences for your holiday. After confirming your itinerary for the week, you can relax and adjust to the high altitude whilst also recovering from a possible long flight. As the sun sets and the temperature drops, you may want to settle in front of the roaring fire with a glass of local wine and browse the information folders in the library before dinner.
Riding: 2 - 3 hours
After waking in these stunning surroundings, you will enjoy a healthy and abundant breakfast with no need to hurry. Mornings tend to be sunny and so it's the best time of day for setting out on a ride.
Each day is flexible and every ride has its particular beauty and charm, including stunning rides through the valleys surrounded by mountains, green lakes on mountain tops, snow-capped Cayambe, ancient pre-Incan earth mounds, waterfalls, dramatic views in or above the clouds. You will see local people work on their land and have a chance to meet a local saddle maker. You can ride high up to viewpoints which offer spectacular vistas of the local area, as well as more chances of spotting Condors.
There is a mixture of full and half day rides on offer, so some days will be more relaxing. On full day rides you will enjoy a picnic out on the trail, whilst half day rides will include lunches at the hacienda. You can choose to book short rides (1.5 - 2 hours), half day rides (3-4 hours) or full day rides (5 hours +) and all rides are at additional cost but can be pre-booked so that you ensure as much (or as little!) as riding as possible during your stay.
The Condor Project ride is the most popular and highly recommended. The Condor reserve is located just 3km from the hacienda within a native forest valley, where you will find rescued Condor's in an aviary before they are released back to the wild when they are fit enough. Here you can learn about the wildlife of Zuleta as well as the efforts to protect and nurture endangered condors and Spectacled bears. The visit is available as a 3-hour ride (including 1 hours talk) where you will begin by heading out past the Hacienda’s pastures, milking sheds and Trout farm via pretty cobblestone roads. You will see many ancient Caranqui ‘tola’ pyramids dating from before the Inca Conquest. It is possible to climb the highest ceremonial pyramid when we return, which offers great views of the area. You may also see wild condors taking advantage of the high winds on the mountainside. The ride includes an hour approx. talk at the Condor Huasi facilities.
Back at the Hacienda, you will enjoy a delicious lunch which may be fresh trout from the farm, whilst admiring the giant hummingbirds which visit the flowers around the patio. In the afternoon you may wish to visit the Zuleta women's cooperative and other community projects, where there is the chance to buy beautiful, colourful, hand-made embroidered articles. Leaving the shop you can climb aboard the horse-drawn carriage for a trip through the eucalyptus valley to the foundation run library where local children spend their afternoons.
Upon arriving back at the hacienda, the fire will be lit and a hot bath is waiting for you to close the day in the most relaxing way before dinner.
Days 3 to 7
Riding: 1 - 12 hours
Each day follows a similar format, with a sumptious breakfast followed by riding or sampling other activities.
You may choose from;
The Waterfall ride (c. 1,5-2 hours) - discovering the area of La Cocha lake and the roaring waterfall on the Tahuando river.
Zuleta Community ride (c. 1.5-2 hours) - ride around the quaint village of Zuleta.
The Condor's View ride (c. 1,5-2 hours) - take the route up Santa Rosa hill to witness the beautiful 'Vista Condor'.
Gathering the Herd ride (c. 1-1,5 hours) - join the local groom gathering the herds of over 40 Zuletaño horses.
Mount Cunrro ride (c. 3-4 hours) - ride to 19000 ft to witness the extinct volcano of Mt. Cunrro.
Angochagua Culture ride (c. 3-4 hours) - visit the local farming community to see the age-old techniques of grinding corn and spinning wool still in action.
Mout Cubilche ride (c. 3-4 hours) - travel up to the Páramo - the high grasslands - to witness views of the entire valley and many rare species of plant life, before riding around the caldera of the Mt. Cubilche volcano.
The Lake's View ride (c. 6-7 hours) - ride over the mountains to a picnic spot with a fabulous view of San Pablo lake - 'Vista Lago'.
Indigenous History ride (c. 6-7 hours) - ride to La Chimba, home to local heroine Tránsito Amaguaña, to discover the turbulent history of the indigenous community.
La Rinconada Cultural ride (c. 6-7 hours) - opportunities for faster riding as well as visit local villages such as La Magdalena with its sweet-coloured houses as well as the farming communities of La Rinconada and Angochagua.
Hacienda to Hacienda ride (c. 6 hours) - ride to the Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th-century estate with "Old World" charm and sumptuous gardens.
Ventana Grande ride (c. 6-7 hours) - ride over the Páramo to the Ventanas (windows) volcanic formation - perfect rock frames for the mountain view beyond.
Ventanas Loop ride (c. 12 hours) - an early start will see you riding a full loop of the Zuleta valley, past the Ventanas and through true Condor country, brushing with local communities along the way.
Experienced riders will be able to ride further into the valleys and communities, enjoying canters across the páramo. The terrain is sometimes challenging and so there are places where the pace is necessarily slow, but there are still plenty of opportunities to canter across the meadows. Novice riders will be able to explore at a slower pace on shorter rides which explore the areas around the hacienda.
Please note that guides are often Spanish speaking but you can request a bilingual guide at extra cost - this is worth it if choosing the cultural rides where you may want to learn about the history and cultures of the areas you are riding through.
Riding: No riding.
Departure day. Following breakfast, you will say goodbye to your welcoming hosts before being transferred back to Quito.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.