Ecuador - Wild Andes
The Ecuadorian Andes run north to south and are comprised of eastern and western chains. The Hacienda is at the western chain.
The southwestern Andes are a well known Indian region, isolated communities like, Quilotoa, Sigchos and Guambaine are also found in the middle of the Andes, following the same traditions and ways of life since the Colonial times.
This ride is specifically designed for those looking for cultural immersion and adventure with long journeys and amazing scenery. The route takes you close to the Illinizas, Quilotoa, Chimborazo, Carihuirazo, Igualata and Tungurahua volcanoes, the last of which has been active for the last 16 years.
During the ride you also have the opportunity to enjoy two thermal springs.
Day 1: Arrive to Airport and transfer (one hour) to the Hacienda (2,890 m). Spend the night here, if your arrival is on time you can have a first day ride.
Day 2: In the morning after breakfast, you will try the horses and ride in a closed arena until you feel comfortable with your horse and tack. Day 2 ride is acclimatization around the hacienda. You will see the green valley of Machachi and the soaring mountains of the Volcano Avenue, where you will be riding during the trip. Arrive for a late lunch, and an afternoon tour of the farming operations.
Riding time 4 hours
Day 3: In the morning you ride west towards the Corazon to 4,000 meters and descend to the cloud forest. You ride by 3 different ecosystems as the valley, paramo and arriving to cloud forest. At the cloud forest, you can observe 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 arrive for tea at Hacienda Bomboli (3,000 m), relax by the fireplace, enjoying the sunset, and watch the lights of the villages near the coast following a great meal.
Accommodation: Hacienda Bomboli
Riding hours: 6 hours
Day 4. You leave behind the cloud forest and ride the old road that until1960 connected Quito with the coast. From there you can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and you can also see the routes you will take the next day along the east mountain chain. Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests you arrive to the valley for a snack. Delicious dinner at the Hacienda.
Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria
Riding hours: 4 + hours
Day 5: Sigchos This second part has long journey in the saddle. You start the ride one hour south of th Hacienda, you will be transfer by car to this point to start the 6 day adventure at the southern Andes. Today you will ride by the Inca trail and dirt roads and paths that takes you to Sigchos, the village that was 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 can visualize here were you are heading and it looks near, you will have to cross many mountains chains to get there. This area is a combination of forest, rock peaks and eroded land from the last centuries. You arrive at the Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guest house, in time for a good meal, Jacuzzi, sauna and rest.
The horses will have lush fields of fresh grass, the last for the remainder of the expedition.
Overnight at Hacienda San Jose
Riding time 8 hours approx 40 kilometers
Day 6:Sigchos to Quilotoa. After breakfast you head south to the Quilotoa crater lake. The trail goes by the bottom of the Toachi canyon, were you will have lunch. There are few agricultural villages and houses, and the land is very dry and the soil is composed by pumice from the Quilotoa volcano that erupted 1,280 years ago. The challenge will be to get to the Quilotoa summit at 3,800 meters above sea level, where your hostal is awaiting. At the cliff of the volcano you will enjoy and amazing view of the breathtaking Quilotoa crater lake. Quilotoa is a crater lake caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The 3 kilometer wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following a catastrophic eruption.
Elevation: 12,841' (3,914 m) Last eruption: 1280
Overnight at Quilotoa, close to the crater lake
Riding time 8+ hours
Day 7: Guambaine Zumbahua is the next village at which you will start the trekking to the high Andes. You then find a small isolated homestead of about 50 families, there are no roads and the only connection to civilization is by a 3 hour path to Angamarca. You will see llama herds that are used as pack animals as well as sheep guided by children working as shepherds . This day will be an intense riding day and will be climax of the adventure. You will be the first tourists arriving to the area, camping overnight and using one of the grass huts for a kitchen. We are looking forward to help the community to make a path to the east that will help the locals sell their products at a larger market and also to get better prices on their products of cheese, potatoes, broad beans and barley.
Overnight at Guambaine, camping
Riding 8+ hours
Day 8: El Salado Early morning you will have the opportunity to admire the extraordinary combination of the sunrise and the clouds arriving from the west cloud forest.
You will encounter a dramatic change of the ecosystem “paramo”. Riding from the high mountains to the lowland valleys (3700 mts), you will see thousands of small farms, a lot of them produce milk (50% of the milk produced in Ecuador is from farms that have less than 5 acres).
You will admire a ravine that originates from the Chimborazo volcano (6,300 meters, highest volcano in Ecuador), along the ravine’s river runs an old road built in 1830’s called “camino de Flores”, being the first road to connect the highlands with the coast. In the afternoon you will arrive to a hot springs where you will set up the camp and enjoy a nice BBQ dinner.
Overnight at Salado
Riding time 7 hours
Day 9: Chimborazo and Carihuiarazo Volcanos to Urbina Carihuairazo is a volcanic caldera adjacent to Ecuador's highest mountain Chimborazo.
Elevation: 16,463' (5,018 m) First ascent: 1951 Prominence: 2,034' (620 m)
Coordinates: 1º24 S, 78º46 O
Located: 38 - 40 km NW of Riobamba and 22 Km. SW of Ambato.
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' (6,268 m) First ascent: 1880 Prominence: 13,524' (4,122 m)
First ascenders: Edward Whymper, Louis Carrel, Jean-Antoine Carrel
Coordinaates: 1º46 S, 71º71 O
The expedition continues all day along the Chimborazo skirt; will be a challenging ride with many different sceneries as dry hills, swampy areas and rocky hills.
You will ride east, crossing into the eastern Andes mountain chain. This ride will follow the south Chimborazo skirt, with the Carihuairazo volcano on your left, the scenery changes from a desert full of running vicunas to swampy green paramo. The area is full of climber paths, and you will finish the day on the east face of Chimborazo Overnight: Chimborazo refuge
Riding time: 8+ hours
Day 10: Igualata and Tungurahua Volcano
Tungurahua Volcano info
Last eruption: 2014 Elevation: 16,480' (5,023 m)
First ascent:1873 Prominence: 5,098' (1,554 m)
Mountain range: East Andes
Last day of our expedition will be the Tungurahua area that has been affected over the last 14 years with volcanic ash and periodic eruptions. This ride completes your journey through the east. You ride by fertile hills with potatoes, beans and cash crops, on side of the Igualata volcano. The landscape is dotted with mini-farms up to 4000 meters high. You start the downhill to the Chambo canyon and arriving to the Tungurahua volcano skirts, the volcano and the changes of the scenery from 4000 meters to 2400 mts. high makes and impressive scenery. The horses will go back to the hacienda and you stay in Banos.
Overnight at Banos.
Riding time 8+ hours.
Day 11: Back to the Hacienda Visit Banos that is based on the skirts of the Volcano, a very unique city that is the entrance to amazon jungle region and well know about the thermal water springs. Transfer by car to the Hacienda.
Lunch at the Hacienda
Overnight at Hacienda La Alegria
Transfer to airport after breakfast
The above daily program is preliminary and may change due to local circumstances.