Experience a unique cultural insight into the Chagra, or Andean Cowboy lifestyle. Enjoy some of the most impressive landscapes of the Central Andes of Ecuador on horseback while riding with authentic Chagras. Along the way, they share their stories, skills, and expertise on handling horses. This expedition gives you the opportunity to connect yourself with nature and learn some of the basic skills of an Andean cowboy.
At 7am, you will be picked up by a guide and transported from your Hotel in Quito to Hacienda El Porvenir. The drive takes approximately an hour and a half. At the Hacienda you will meet a local guide, or chagra. After a welcoming drink and room designation you will join the chagra in the fields to gather your horses and bring them to the hacienda corrals. Back at the hacienda you will learn how to saddle your horse (western saddles) and get acquainted with the gear provided (wool ponchos, animal skin chaps). Traditional Lunch. After lunch, you start riding towards the slopes of the dormant volcano of Rumiñahui, following exclusive Hacienda paths. As you travel across majestic Andean panoramas, you will see herds of wild bulls, birds and other wildlife. Eventually, you will arrive near the rocky peaks of Rumiñahui, where one can see 12 more volcanoes on a clear day. Return to the Hacienda. Approximate riding time: 3 hours. Overnight stay at Hacienda El Porvenir.
Depart from Hacienda El Porvenir after breakfast, riding through Cotopaxi National Park. With the colossal Cotopaxi looming over the trails, you will visit the Pucará del Salitre, an ancient Inca fortress. After, you will visit the Manantiales water springs and Santo Domingo Lake located inside the Park. Packed lunch. You continue riding until you reach the campsite at Chirimachay on the Eastern Andes mountain range. Approximate riding time: 5 to 6 hours and covers roughly 29km. Dinner and overnight at the Chirimachay Hut Campsite.
After a delicious breakfast, you will ride towards Hacienda El Tambo, located on the slopes of Quilindana Volcano. Hacienda El Tambo was an ancient Inca Tambo, or Inn. It is located on the road that connects to the Amazon Basin. This ride takes you through a wide variety of landscapes including mountains, rivers, hidden valleys and volcanic remains. When you finally reach the farmhouse of El Tambo, you'll be rewarded by a traditional lunch! During the afternoon, you can explore the area by foot, hiking to El Tambo River waterfall, or relax by the fireplace while enjoying the views. Dinner and overnight at Hacienda El Tambo.
After breakfast, you start your chagra skill training program. You will learn to handle the lasso, how to handle the cattle, how to tie knots. These overall skills are needed for a small “rodeo” (the local given name to a cattle drive, comes from the verb “rodear” which means surround) that will be held after you learn and practice the skills. Eat lunch at the hacienda. Then, you will go trout fishing during the afternoon. The chagras will show you how they catch and prepare trout, a very important part of their diet. Dinner and overnight at Hacienda El Tambo
After breakfast, you ride out early in the morning, heading back to civilization. Following the course of the River Tambo towards the base of Cotopaxi, you take the high route used by the locals and ride though the slopes of Sincholagua Volcano. On the way back to Hacienda El Porvenir, you cross Cotopaxi National Park, taking a spectacular, panoramic route. Then, you will reach Hacienda El Porvenir and get driven back to Quito!
Tierra Del Volcan operates two haciendas in Ecuador: Hacienda El Porvenir & Hacienda El Tambo, located in the region surrounding the Cotopaxi Volcano. They each have their own charm, ecosystem and distinctive touch. A wide range of tours and activities available include: horseback riding, Chagra cultural activities, dining in traditional straw-roofed farmhouses, camping in hidden mountain folds, trekking, zip lining over hills and valleys, & mountain bike riding.