We GUARANTEE you won't find the same horse riding holiday at a lower price through any other source... and if you do, we promise to refund the difference!
from £2,630 or €2,995
Suitable for intermediate plus fit riders.
Colonial Hacienda Trail, 7 nights
Andean Adventure Trail, 7 nights
Vistas & Volcanoes Trails, 10 nights
Note: Rates are subject to daily exchange rate fluctuations, please refer to our Terms & Conditions for full details.
Includes – All the riding, accommodation, all meals bar one dinner in Quito, guides, luggage transfer.
Excludes – Flights, transfers, drinks & tips.
International flight to Quito.
Airport transfers are approx. US$55 each way.
Colonial Hacienda Trail
30 September – 7 October
Andean Adventure Trail
28 January – 4 February
27 December 2023 – 3 January 2024
Vistas & Volcanoes Trail
24 June – 4 July
24 July – 3 August
All our horse riding holidays hold a price guarantee. We believe in your piece of mind on price when you book one of our horse riding holidays and will refund the difference should you find the same horse riding holiday elsewhere at a lower price.
Your host, Sally Vergette, comes from the UK and grew up showing and show jumping. A complete change of lifestyle over 20 years ago led her to setting up a very unique and thriving horse riding holiday business in South America. You’ll just love the forward going horses, remote riding and the very comfortable haciendas, which makes this such a memorable horse riding holiday in Ecuador.
Enjoy these magnificent Horse Riding Trails. Join Sally on her top quality riding horses and enjoy fast paced riding in two stunning yet very distinct areas of Ecuador, in the heart of the Andes. Accompanied by local horsemen, you start the rides on grassy tracks between the patchwork fields of the verdant valleys of the northern highlands and end the ride with long canters across the arid plains in the national park, just below the magnificent snow-capped ‘Cotopaxi Volcano’. The Horse Riding Trails now include the wild Andean ‘paramo’ grasslands. Guests stay at a wonderful selection of different historic haciendas, some built by the first Spanish settlers, one based on Inca walls and a working finca.
Other visits along the way include two market visits – the famous ‘Otavalo’ market and the fascinating local market at Saquisili. You pass through villages which are home to friendly Ecuadorians in their vibrant traditional dress going about their daily tasks; the children shepherding the unruly pigs and sheep and the farmers working the land in much the same way as their forefathers did. This is a fascinating insight into Andean country life.
Note that the riding is at high altitude therefore we always recommend to arrive a day earlier into Quito to acclimatise.
Horses – The local Criollo crossed with Andalusian, Arab, Thoroughbred & Peruvian Paso. All the horses are well trained, responsive, and ideally suited to the terrain, ranging from 14.2hh – 15.2hh.
Level of Riding & Pace – Intermediate to Advanced. There are long days spend in the saddle and good general fitness is required. You MUST be able to canter in open countryside, balanced and in control with an independent seat and hands.
Tack – McClennon saddles on which you can ride both Western or English style. Plus, English saddles are available with prior arrangement.
Weight Limits – 13.5 Stone / 85 kg but can also take up to 15 Stone / 95 kg with prior arrangements – we need to know this maximum weight at time of booking to confirm availability of the bigger horses.
Group Size – Maximum 8, except Xmas & New Year.
Over the course of the trail, a variety of accommodation is used depending on the itinerary for their location and charm.
On the ‘Hacienda to Hacienda’ rides, nights are at a selection of Ecuador’s old Haciendas, many of which date back to the 17th and 18th Century, some which are now hotels and some that still house descendants of the country’s noblest families. These Haciendas, with their antique filled rooms, hold an important position in the country’s history and staying at them gives a wonderful insight into Spanish colonial life.
On the ‘Andean Adventurer & ‘Vista & Volcano’ rides nights are spent at more simple haciendas, local farms (‘fincas’) and guest houses which are simple and rustic but comfortable.
Food is of a very good standard with a mix of cooked and simple breakfasts, packed lunches and 2-3 course evening meals, depending on whether the overnight is at a hotel hacienda or a more simple, family run accommodation. Expect things like eggs, porridge, fresh breads, meats, cheese, soups and local, traditional Ecuadorian fayre, coupled with European dishes.
We have travelled the world testing a huge variety of horse riding holidays to make sure we offer you, our client, the best horse riding holiday experience possible.
Our horse riding holidays are thoroughly researched – we consider all the elements that go towards making our horse riding holidays collection the best in the world. We check the quality of the horses, if they are fit for the job, well produced and looked after. We make sure the riding terrain is good going, the countryside is interesting and, for example, on Classic Dressage horse riding holidays, the arenas are in good condition. We make sure the accommodation, whether it’s a five star hotel, a farmhouse or camping, is clean and comfortable, and offers a great night’s sleep. The food is all important too – we take the time to make sure we tell you if it’s cordon bleu, home cooked, or regional and locally sourced – above all it has to be delicious, plentiful and nourishing. Last but not least, we choose the horse riding holidays that have the best hosts, who are friendly, warm and welcoming.
It’s only when all these elements come together that we add a horse riding holiday into our hand-picked collection of horse riding holidays.
Horse Riding Holidays like this Horse Riding Trails holiday are part of the Zara’s Planet collection of Horse Riding Holidays Ecuador.
Please Ask About
Cattle Round-Up – 6 nights
Whilst in Ecuador there are plenty of great add-ons we can also arrange, like visits to:
Note: All Horse Riding Trails itineraries are subject to change.
You are met in Quito and driven about 90 minutes to Cayambe, with a stop to visit the market. Lunch and meet the horses, an introductory ride over to the Zuleta Valley. Dinner and the night at Hacienda La Merced.
A full day ride exploring the Zuleta Valley and surrounding area with a picnic lunch. Return to Hacienda La Merced for dinner and night.
Breakfast and ride south through farmland, forest and open country with some good chances to canter. Leave the horses and drive a short way to a Jesuit Hacienda for lunch. In the afternoon continue driving south to a country hotel on the slopes of Pasachao mountain where the night is spent.
A circuit ride today takes you from lush cloud forest into the high grassland, the ‘paramo’, stopping to admire views of snow capped Cotopaxi Volcano. Return to your hotel by a different route for dinner and the night.
A spectacular ride today, crossing the foothills of Cotopaxi National Park, beautiful remote wilderness with good chances to see Condors. Dinner and the night at Los Mortinos, a lodge with unbeatable views of Cotopaxi.
The ride today is again into the stunning Cotopaxi National Park, maybe meeting the wild horses as you ride across the plains and old lava flow. A picnic lunch before you return to Los Mortinos for dinner and the night.
Breakfast and set off riding, climbing the slopes of Ruminahui Volcano, up to around 4000m. Stop for a picnic in a hidden valley before riding on, with unforgettable views too the road head. Say goodbye to the horses and transfer to a hacienda close to Quito airport for dinner and the night.
Breakfast and departure..
After breakfast, guests are met at their hotel in Quito by their guide and driver and leave Quito, driving north-east through a dry valley filled with acacia and cactus as well as avocado groves to Cayambe Valley (90 minutes); stopping as we cross the equator line from the south into northern hemisphere for a photo opportunity. We meet the horses and once guests are comfortable ride into the beautiful pastoral Zuleta Valley, to a working Hacienda for an overnight stay (5-6hrs). This valley and the Hacienda have been firm favourites with guests for many years. Guests enjoy an insight into Ecuadorian life on a working ranch, staying in a beautifully converted old building on a farm established in the 1500s, this area being farmed for centuries prior to that date.
The ride is varied in pace and terrain – through eucalyptus forests, along dirt tracks, through a gorge and passing a 16th century Hacienda. A good chance of seeing the mighty Andean Condor.
As always, the ‘chagras’ that work alongside the main guide are there to look after your horses as soon as we arrive.
The dairy herd and Andalusian horses are close to our accommodation, the English-speaking owners are delightful and informative as they open their farm to us and show guests around and there is a museum of pre-Inca & Inca artefacts excavated at the Hacienda. Guests can walk around the farm or into the nearby village.
Ride out of the hacienda north-west to a superbly maintained hamlet (6-7hrs).Through another part of the picturesque Zuleta Valley sculpted at the end of the ice age by retreating glaciers. Then we climb out the valley, stunning views all around, through pine forests onto the slopes of Imbabura. The largest finch in the world and the brilliant mountain tanager flit around, depending on the time of the year, the vermillion fly catcher and the giant hummingbird can be seen. Other hummingbird species constantly zoom past us, including train bearers. Another delicious picnic along the way – a very varied menu including local fruits & salads, is enjoyed in a stunning location overlooking the valleys below. Along dirt tracks, cobbles, through woodlands then passing adobe houses we arrive at charming cottages and comfortable log cabins for overnight. This is an example of a very well managed community project; the local indigenous people are our hosts and, for those that wish, an opportunity to learn about the local culture – shamans, Andean calendar & fiestas and also their cooking. Delicious traditional food served at the home of a local family involved in tourism for many years.
After a breakfast, including fresh fruit and local flatbread, cooked in the oven outside the house, we ride out of the hamlet along cobbles and narrow dirt tracks, passing small farms, herds of animals, locals cultivating the fields in traditional dress. Through woodlands then over a ridge we arrive in the San Pablo Valley (6-7hrs). The land flattens out and riders have the chance of canters along the tracks as well as enjoying impressive views, both snow-capped Cayambe Volcano and the rugged peak of Imbabura on the horizon. Guests spot many ‘exotic’ plants including fields of lupins & quinoa, passion fruit, mountain papaya & ‘uvillas’. The wonderful hairy pigs are tethered to the sides of the tracks and we pass flocks of sheep– the shepherdess engrossed in the embroidery
the area is famous for. We arrive in a typical village square and say goodbye to these horses as we will meet fresh ones tomorrow. A drive takes riders to the northern entrance of the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, just north of Cotopaxi national park (2-2.5hrs). Overnight at a small inn in the Pasachoa foothills. Rooms with private bathrooms.
A complete change of scenery! An exhilarating day starting with the chance to take a closer look at the famous Spanish fighting bulls as we ride through pastureland.
Curiously, the fighting bulls were introduced by the Jesuit priests centuries ago to prevent their cattle being rustled. Then, riding into Cotopaxi national park, riders find themselves amongst important geological features produced by both ice age and volcanic activity (5-6hrs). Fast paced riding – long canters, across the flat grassy plains on ideal terrain, and as we speed through the rolling hills an almost guaranteed chance of meeting several herds of the wild horses that roam the park – the bold colts often running alongside us, long manes and tails flowing. We sometimes see deer and more and more frequently the Andean Condor is sighted soaring overhead. Crossing old lava flows, we then follow an old Inca route and ride on to a very comfortable lodge on a plain surrounded by four mighty peaks very spacious and beautifully designed, located at the centre point between four mighty Andean peaks: – Ruminahui, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi, an unbeatable location. A chance to exchange stories with a local hot cinnamon drink while watching the sun set on Cotopaxi.
The longest ride of the trip– covering 45km (30 miles) through the northern section of national park and to the remote eastern flanks of Cotopaxi Volcano, far off the beaten track (7-8hrs). Flat plains, marshlands, volcanic rock fields, riverbeds are some of the distinct terrains we traverse. We follow an Inca route that led down to the Amazon for part of the way and the house we stay at tonight is a ‘tambo’ built with Inca stone –log fires and lovely staff ensure a warm welcome and once again guests can enjoy an incredible location. The Equator-line sky is packed with stars, including the Southern Cross. Twin bedded rooms (partitions dividing the sleeping areas), generator & candle lighting in this house, shared bathrooms.
A ride into the ‘paramo’ vegetation of Quilindaña mountain (6hrs). A circuit ride, usually accompanying the ‘Chagras’ – local horsemen that live and work in this area, while they go about their daily work. We may end up searching for cattle the chagras have been unable to locate in the far reaches of the hacienda lands, or helping the chagras bring cows down off the hills into the corral. The chagras have a specific dress – ponchos and goatskin chaps, ideal for the conditions. The fascinating tack has been specifically adapted over the centuries, since the Spaniards first brought horses to South America and the local horse has also developed into the ‘Ecuadorian criollo’ horse, ideally suited to the conditions. Return to this unique rarely visited Hacienda, literally at the end of a 4×4 track, for a second overnight. Twin-bedded rooms (partitions dividing each twin-bed sleeping area), generator & candle lighting in this house, shared bathrooms.
Riders often wake to stunning views of the close-by Cotopaxi & Quilindana Volcanoes and also the glacier on Antisana Volcano on the horizon. Riders have a chance to inspect the hacienda stone and turf corrals used for the feisty fighting bulls before we set off through another part of this wilderness. The route is about 40km (7hrs), taking us close to the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano via a wide, glacier formed valley. The terrain is amazingly diverse: across rough ‘paramo’ grassland, fording rivers, traversing boulder fields and wetlands; then back onto the plains for some long canters across the huge expanses of open terrain of the national park. En route, we pass a restored hilltop Inca fort. Arriving at the park exit guests leave the horses and are driven back to Quito for an overnight stay. Single, twin/double/triple rooms with en suite bathrooms.
Following breakfast, end of services. Guests can book transport with us to the airport or we can arrange extensions for them, for example Amazon lodges & Galapagos Island cruises.
You are met at your hotel and driven north through the Andes, across the equator line to meet the horses in the shadow of the Cayambe Volcano, (a journey of approx. 90 mins). Ride out of the Cayambe Valley and down into the pastoral Zuleta Valley. Along grassy lanes and then across pastureland, experience picture-postcard scenery around every corner. Stop for a picnic along the way. Perhaps have some canters across the grasslands and then enter the grounds of the hacienda which is your accommodation for tonight. Pass the hacienda’s magnificent Andalucian stallions in their fields. Your hosts are delightful people making this a very special introduction to Ecuadorian life.(Approx. 4 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight in en-suite rooms at Hacienda La Merced, (or similar).
Today, set off on a long circular ride through the magnificent Zuleta Valley with superb views of the countryside and surrounding jagged peaks. As well as a host of other birds including tiny hummingbirds, the mighty Andean Condor is often spotted soaring overhead. There should be the chance for some long canters and the perfect opportunity to see local life as you pass small adobe huts. The very friendly locals still dress in their vibrant coloured traditional clothing. You may encounter herders out with flocks of sheep, goats, pigs in the open grasslands and a host of mismatched dogs supposedly keeping the animals in order! Lunch is a picnic out on the trail. Your afternoon ride will take you back to the hacienda. Before dinner, you may wish to take a closer look at the Andalucian horses with the owners, watch the cows being milked and enjoy the tranquil Andean life. (Approx. 6 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight in en-suite rooms at Hacienda La Merced (or similar).
Today’s ride takes you in a westerly direction out of the Zuleta Valley and into the neighbouring San Pablo Valley, which is dominated by the lake. There should be some more opportunities for cantering as we ride across plains, through the beautiful verdant valleys. Then it is onwards through a series of hamlets, passing fields full of exotic fruits and vegetables. Eventually reaching the famous market town of Otavalo. A late afternoon visit to the colourful market, with the chance to purchase wonderful Andean crafts and take some photos of the ladies in their beautiful traditional dress. (Approx. 6 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight at Dona Esther in Otavalo town, in rooms with en-suite bathrooms.
It is an early start today for your journey south. There will be the chance for a quick stop on the Equator Line, before heading south along the side of the eastern Cordillera of the Andes, into the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’ (a journey of approx. 2.5 hrs). Ride out across the distinct Andean ‘paramo’ vegetation, accompanied by a local ‘chagra’ (horseman). The views are spectacular – looking out across the green valleys to the many rocky summits beyond. There is also a good chance of seeing Andean condors, but this very much depends on flying conditions! Leave the pigs and donkeys grazing on the tracks and the fields of potatoes, maize and beans behind and climb into the wild ‘paramo’ vegetation in the Antisana foothills. Then it is on to open grasslands before descending to a working farm for overnight. The Hacienda house has recently been converted. Experience the impressive views and enjoy traditional home-cooked food tonight. (Approx. 5-6 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight at Hacienda Achupallas (or similar). There are single, twins, double and triple rooms at this hacienda, most with en-suite bathrooms.
Ride out of the farm and climb towards ‘Muerto Pungo’ Lake along dirt tracks through a sea of grass, again with incredible vistas. There is plenty of wildlife and flora to see from hummingbirds (the smallest bird in the world) to Condors (the heaviest flying bird in the world). The views extend to distant snow-capped volcanoes and to Quito. See peaks such as Antisana, Sincholagua, Pichincha, the Iliniza twin peaks and Cotopaxi Volcano. Arriving at the highland lake ‘Muerte Pungo’, see a fascinating old lava flow and its exit hole. After a saddlebag picnic lunch it is back onto the horses for a few more hours pioneering our way through grasslands, before finally dropping down into a secluded valley. (Approx. 5-6 hrs of riding). Leave the horses in pastures and head back to Hacienda Achupallas (or similar) for a second night. It is just a short drive by vehicle.
Your morning starts with riding through the open expanses of ‘paramo’, far off the beaten track you can enjoy the tranquillity of this seldom-visited and truly breath-taking area. The ‘chagras’ guide us through the landscape that they know so well, carefully leading the group through muddy wetlands. Ride up the scree slopes and rocky outcrops of Sincholagua volcano. Cross over the continental divide, the watershed where drops of water landing so close together end up oceans apart in the Pacific or in the Atlantic. The pace may well pick up across the northern end of the Cotopaxi National Park. Ride on to a charming old adobe and thatch farmhouse, where you will overnight. Tonight, perhaps exchange stories with a pre-dinner glass of the local ‘fire water’ in front of a roaring fire. (Approx. 7 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight at Hacienda Porvenir, a thatched inn with partitioned rooms and shared bathrooms, (or similar). NB. Sometimes it is possible to pay extra to upgrade to a room with a private bathroom. Please ask for availability.
Today you should have the chance to take a closer look at the famous Spanish fighting bulls as you ride through the Hacienda lands. Curiously enough these fierce beasts were introduced into Ecuador by the Jesuit priests as a way of stopping their other animals being rustled. Skirting the rocky summit of Ruminahui, continue on into the National Park. Passing native Andean forests, the route flattens out as we descend into a hidden valley, a favourite haunt for Condors and wild horses. The can sometimes quicken as you cross the open plains. The days’ ride ends at a lodge close to Cotopaxi Volcano, with unbeatable views of this magnificent peak. Resident llamas often oblige and pose for photos. (Approx. 6 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight at Tambopaxi Lodge with single, twin, double and triple rooms and en-suite bathrooms (or similar).
An exhilarating day of riding awaits; journey on horseback through the western part of Cotopaxi National Park. There may be some faster paced riding across the flat plains. As you make your way through the rolling hills, there is the chance you may meet several herds of the wild horses that roam the park. The curious colts often run alongside us, long manes and tails flowing. Sometimes deer are seen and the Andean Condor often passes overhead. Cross lunar-like surfaces as we approach the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano. Then follow the main Inca highway linking Cusco and Quito, before heading to a new, very comfortable lodge located at the centre- point between the four mighty Andean peaks of Ruminahui, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi. (Approx. 5-6 hours of riding). Dinner and overnight at Hacienda Los Mortinos, with single, twin and double rooms and en-suite bathrooms (or similar).
Today you will set off on the longest ride of the trip, covering 45km (c. 30 miles) through the northern section of the National Park and to the remote eastern flanks of the Cotopaxi Volcano, far off the beaten track. Flat plains, marshlands, volcanic rock fields, riverbeds are some of the distinct terrains to be traversed. Follow an Inca route that led down to the Amazon for part of the way and the house we stay at tonight is a ‘tambo’ built out of Inca stone – log fires and lovely staff ensure a warm welcome. It is an incredible location. Here there is no light pollution and the Equator-line sky is packed with stars, including the Southern Cross. (Approx. 7-8 hrs of riding). Dinner and overnight at Hacienda El Tambo, with twin-bedded rooms separated by partitions. This house is built of Inca stone; there is a generator running for part of the day/evening, after which candles are used. Shared bathrooms.
Wake to stunning views of the close-by Cotopaxi and Quilindana Volcanoes. Often you can also see the glacier on the Antisana Volcano on the horizon. This morning, you should have the chance to inspect the hacienda stone and turf corrals used for the feisty fighting bulls before we set off through another part of this wilderness. The exact route will depend on weather conditions, but will be almost as long as the previous day’s ride. Travel along narrow tracks through the rough grasslands, cross several streams, ride through wetlands and then out onto sandy tracks perhaps for some faster riding across the huge expanses of open terrain. Ecuador’s highest peak, Chimborazo and Tungurahua, which erupts regularly, is often seen on the horizon. After descending into the aptly named ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, it is time to say farewell to your local guides and your horse and drive back to Quito to overnight. (Approx. 7 hrs of riding). Overnight at Hotel Sierra Madre in Quito, (or similar).
Breakfast & departure.
All our horse riding holidays hold a price guarantee. We believe in your piece of mind on price when you book one of our horse riding holidays and will refund the difference should you find the same horse riding holiday elsewhere at a lower price.
If you are having trouble finding exactly the right horse riding holiday for you from our horse riding holidays collection, please contact us directly using the form below and tell us in your own words what you would like to do and we will use our extensive knowledge to make sure we find that perfect horse riding holiday.
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