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Colonial Haciendas Ride

Riding ability: (?)

Suitable for: non-riders families

Colonial Haciendas Ride

Varied paced riding with plenty of opportunities for long canters on top quality horses in two stunning, yet distinct areas of Ecuador, in the heart of the Andes. Each day we ride to another stunning location.

We start the ride on grassy tracks between patchwork fields in the beautiful Andean valleys of the northern highlands and end the ride with long canters across arid plains in the National Park, just below the magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano.

This tour now includes the wild Andean ‘paramo’ grasslands. You will stay at, and visit, a wonderful selection of different historic haciendas – some founded by the early Spanish settlers in the 1600s - with one incorporating Inca walls. Also included is a stay at a working farm. Other visits along the way include market visits, a visit to a rose plantation, and a weaving centre.

Accommodation is in comfortable, character-filled locations with your own private bathroom.


NEW QUITO AIRPORT opened 20 February 2013

Please estimate at least 1 hour drive between the new airport and Quito because new access roads will not be completed for some time.


Day 1

Guests are met at Quito airport/hotel by a bilingual guide and driven north to a hacienda frequented by the great South American liberator, Simon Bolivar (2 hrs.). Members of the charming family (horse fanatics themselves!) that have owned the hacienda for several centuries greet us warmly. With its courtyards, ornate fountains, terraces and gardens graced with citrus, palm and monkey puzzle trees it is an ideal location to leisurely drift into the relaxing Andean surroundings.

Introductory ride (2-3hrs) along the tracks and through the tiny fields on the slopes of the Imbabura Volcano. We often see the very friendly but dignified locals in their immaculate traditional dress working in the fields by using hand tools or cattle to work the land. These tiny fields are surrounded by stone walls and earth banks topped with sisal plants and an array of wild flowers.

Guests first try their horses in an enclosed area before we ride out and the guides and grooms are always on hand to help.

Visit to the famous Otavalo market on this, the busiest day of the week. As well as the bustling craft market and stalls with exotic fruit, there is a food market where local people -dressed in their very distinctive traditional costume- come down from their tiny farms in the mountains to sell their farm produce and buy their weekly supplies.

After a welcome drink in the cosy bar, accompanied by the music of an excellent Andean band and a delicious, traditional dinner (a la carte), spend the night at an historic hacienda. Fireplaces in most rooms.

Day 2

We leave this hacienda -once a very important weaving centre - on horseback and ride on to another colonial hacienda built in 1602 (5 hours) passing tiny hamlets of adobe huts, riding through woodlands, crossing rocky gorges and winding around the patchwork fields of quinoa, potatoes, maize and tree tomato orchards.

Magnificent views of the San Pablo lake and the jagged Mojanda summit as we ride across the slopes of the sacred Imbabura Volcano (extinct) - the focus of many Inca legends. As well as seeing a great variety of exotic Andean fruits and other crops, we meet local people in vibrant traditional dress going about their daily tasks, with children shepherding unruly pigs and sheep to keep them off the crops. A fascinating insight into Andean country life.

On the way through many of the small villages with thriving cottage industries, we visit a family of local weavers. This family still produces exceptionally fine, unique rugs using the ancient pre-Inca backstrap loom that most weavers have abandoned in favour of more modern looms. The wool is still dyed using plants and then hand spun as the family sticks rigidly to the traditional weaving processes.

In the afternoon, wander through the beautiful flowering gardens admiring the avocado trees, bromelias, orchids and kitchen garden with passion fruit, tree tomato and a host of other interesting plants.

Overnight at an early 17th Century (1602) hacienda adorned with local crafts and antiques. Fireplaces in most rooms.

Day 3

A stunning ride into the beautiful pastoral Zuleta Valley (5-6hrs). Along country lanes then through eucalyptus forests, we rise out of San Pablo Valley enjoying wonderful views across the lake and also of Imbabura volcano, riding onto the plains beyond for some fast-pace riding.

Enjoy views of Zuleta valley, verdant gorges and the ‘paramo’ (the unique Andean habitat of high grasslands) as we pass dewponds and hedges of aloe vera and spikey agave (sisal) atop mud walls. Following sandy tracks, we then descend into the Zuleta valley with dramatic views across to the hanging valleys and rocky ridges above. With views of the ancient tumuli and earth pyramids erected by the pre-Inca population, ride on to a working farm in the middle of this tranquil valley which is seldom visited by tourists. Andalusian horses, fighting bulls and a dairy herd are among the farm inhabitants.

Afternoon visit to see examples of hand embroidery that has made the valley famous and enjoy observing the activities on a working farm. Overnight at a small hacienda. Fireplaces in most rooms.

Day 4

We ride out of the hacienda along tree-lined trails between the fields and passing the traditional adobe and thatch cottages. Canter along grassy tracks then take to the steep paths following the gorges and climbing high over a ridge and onto the Pesillo plains, enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and cliffs below. A condor has often been sighted here, soaring overhead, cruising for miles without a wingbeat and a host of hummingbirds, flycatchers and other species inhabit the wonderful hedgerows full of native plants. We ride on over more ridges and across streams, into the Cayambe Valley dominated by the snow-capped Cayambe Volcano, which straddles the Equator Line. Arriving at a typical village square, we leave the horses. You will drive to a beautiful old Jesuit mill for a visit and tea, then cross the Equator Line and travel back to Quito.

A very special Hidden Hacienda: staying at a working farms in the heart of a beautiful valley, 2-4 days of varied riding.

In the beautiful Zuleta Valley -2 hrs north-east of Quito, in the Otavalo/Cayambe area guests at a small, family owned hacienda located in the beautiful, quiet, pastoral Zuleta valley, famous for its exquisitely detailed hand-embroidery. The hacienda itself is a hacienda in the true sense of the word – a working farm, and guests are personally looked after by Diana and Oswaldo, the charming, English speaking hacienda owners. Guests continue to comment how fantastic it is that they are treated as friends and not as “tourists”. With dramatic views across to hanging valleys and rocky ridges above, this valley is also filled with ancient tumili and earth pyramids erected by the pre-Inca population. A picture postcard around every corner – from the traditional adobe and thatch cottages to the glorious Cayambe volcano - and brimming with exotic birdlife such as hummingbirds and scarlet flycatchers, a stay in the valley is sure to delight. Also chance of sightings of the mighty Andean condor.

The number of trail options means that even the best riders have at least four days worth of varied routes through the valley, up into the mountains and onto the surrounding plains. Riders, accompanied by a guide and ‘chagra’ (local horseman) take a picnic and ride out all day or come back to the hacienda for lunch before enjoying an afternoon ride or other activities.

The routes are varied in terrain, with many opportunities for faster paced riding.

NON RIDING OPTIONS are plentiful so riders can choose not to ride all day and non riders in the group have things to do and see:

Walking, hiking, bird watching, riding, archaeological site visits all with or without a guide are among the many other attractions in this tranquil location which is also a great base for a visit to the famous Otavalo market, historic haciendas and many other cultural visits in the area.

2013 Prices:

7 nights, full board, from 2845 USD per person 

Prices in US Dollars (USD) will be converted to GBP using exchange rates at time of quotation & booking. Single supplements (S/S) apply where noted.

2013 Dates:

January  12-19 January
February  2-9 February
May  25 May-1 June
June  29 June - 6 July
July  13-20 July, 27 July - 3 August
August  10-17 August, 24-31  August
September  7-14 September14 - 21 September
October  5-12 October
November  23-30 November
December  7-14 December, 22-29 December

For Hotel Options for Overnight Stay in Quito please click here

Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, and transfers.

Single Supplement: 495 USD per person if no share available

Accommodation: 7 nights accommodation, all meals

Meeting Point: Quito

Indicative Flight Price: London to Quito from £750 - £1200pp return depending on time of year

Transfer: Transfers not included. Please ask us for details of transfer costs.

Hours In Saddle: 5-7

Max Weight: 85kgs (supplement if heavier)

Group Size: 4-10

Suitable for Non-Riders: Yes

Call us on +44 (0)1225 000000 or email contact@redlandsequestrian.com to check the ride availability and dates, once we have confirmed availability you can download and fill in a booking form:

Each rider in the party must also complete a riding ability questionnaire before we can complete the final confirmation of your holiday booking.

Accepted Payment Types