Green Horse Ranch

...your horseback operator in Ecuador since 1995

Secrets of the Andes Ride (8-9 days)

This trip will take you through the very heart of the Western Andes and their unbroken beauty. It compiles the highlights of our shorter rides. Enjoy an incredible variety of Andean landscapes - jungles and deserts, hot valleys and cool windy heights, volcanoes and pristine streams, culture land and tropical wilderness - combined with fascinating in-looks into Ecuador's natural and social history.

Day 1:

Morning to acclimatize to the altitude and explore your surroundings in Quito. Pick up at noon from your hotel or central meeting point, from where we will drive you towards the western cordillera in direction of the Pacific cloud forest on the slopes of Pululahua volcano.

Scenery and micro-climate change around each major road-turn, and you get an impression of what variety awaits you on our ride. Along the way, we'll have lunch and make a stop at the Equator museum Intiñan 15-km north from Quito with information on the ancient cultures that have determined the equator line more than thousand years ago.



We’ll learn some interesting facts about geo-physics and the people which once ruled the Center of the Earth.

In the late afternoon, we will start this adventure with one of our very special dusk- and night rides through Pululahua crater, which will allow you to deeply capture the magical spirit of this unique geographical area.

 


As our path slowly winds into darkness and dense mists, fire-flies start lightening the sky, like stardust falling down on us. With your senses sharpened by dark, this ride will be a totally different experience and shall build up deep trust between you and your horse. 


We’ll deliver you straight from the saddle to the dinner table of your cozy country-hotel where you will sleep tonight.


Day 2:

Have a look at the surprising surrounding, while taking your breakfast amongst busy rushing hummingbirds in the cottage garden of your ecological hostel.

 


Another ride through the stunning landscape of this ancient volcanic crater, this time at day-light, will show its constantly changing sceneries and huge biodiversity.

 

Pululahua is known to be the biggest crater on the whole American continent and one of only two inhabited craters in the world. While circling the central lava cone, we witness volcanic history and nature, interesting geological formations, mineral avalanches blooming with wild orchids and traditional Andean agriculture. Enjoy an outdoor Yacuzzi under stars after dinner if your muscles should request it!


 


Day 3:

We’ll be leaving the volcano along cloud-forest covered mountain slopes, passing by deep gorges, carved by lava streams thousands of years ago to enter the narrow Valley of the Rio Blanco with its warm and tropical climate where we shall find coffee trees, fields of sugar cane and a lot of tropical fruits. 

 
 
 


Legendary historical sites can be observed along the way. When the afternoon light breaks through the clouds over the pre-Inca-fortress Portalanza, with the eagle sayling above, this mountain-valley looks most certainly like taken from a fairy tale.


 "Aguacatal" is the name of the very remote (no electricity!) and beautiful farm that offers us beds for tonight in cozy wooden cabañas (alternatively ancient Jesuit Hacienda Niebli de la Compañia, depending on availability). Ice-cold Caipiriñha, hot solar shower and delicious evening meal should make you happy. 

Day 4:

In the morning, we'll enjoy the pleasant climate of this end-of-the world place, as much as the oppulent breakfast that our host Sonja has prepared for us.

 
 
Ridges and canyons on day 4

Today's ride leads us along and above the dramatically beautiful Guayllabamba river valley, combining steep adventurous climbs through dense vegetation with gallop stretches on mountain ridges with wide open views, overlooking the steep and winding gorges, a comprised version of the Grand Canyon. This valley has been settled long before the arrival of the Incas, by cultures who were farming the land, building temples for their gods and knowing the exact position of the equator line. 


 
 
 
 


We shall encounter some of their testimonies on our ride, while overlooking grave hillocks, terrace hills and 1300 years old stone carvings.

 

Zigzagging dense forests and bush-land, sometimes requiring a machete, climbing steep slopes, crossing pristine water streams, we wind through ancient paths, nearly forgotten nowadays, used only by the very few farmers still living out here, to make our way back into the volcano.

 
 
 

Day 5:

More open views to expect! Today, we’ll be taking an even closer look on the pre-inka hill Portalanza that we’ve seen from across the canyon yesterday. Along flower fields for exportation, sugar cane, banana and pine-apple plants, we approach the narrow ridge between Rio Blanco and Rio Tanache, which we will follow down to the plains, where once stood a Quitu-Cara village, - today only swaying grass in the wind.

 



The view is truly breath-taking. We’ll enjoy our lunch to the sound of the crickets, while viewing vultures and hawks sailing above us. Return through jungely mountain forest and house-high elephant grass. Back to our little hostel and well-deserved freedom for our horses and Yacuzzi for us if desired.

 
 
 

Day 6:


Forests of bamboo are marking our picturesque trail up the mountain, while climbing gently but continually in order to leave the crater to the west. A pleasant and rather easy ride in comparison to the dramatic slopes we conquered so far. In the remoteness, we only come across a few small farmhouses, where the highland farmers scratch a meager income from the steep, infertile land beside the forest.


The higher we climb, the more the cloud-forest covered mountains and valleys we leave behind unfold below us like from a bird's perspective. An ecofriendly cottage or family stay awaits us in the mountain village Yungilla, which is dedicated to a self- sustaining community-tourism project for many years. A lot to learn about sustainable development for who is interested.


Day 7:

Want to check out how villagers produce their own cheese and marmelade? Happy to invite you for a little tour.

Back on our horses, once again, we go hunting for traces of lively Ecuadorian history. After a scenic ride along the ridge, we dive into the north-western cloud forests and the land of the Toucan.


 

An ancient smuggler’s path, where cane- schnapps was transported on mules from the coast to the highlands during the time of the prohibition, leads through narrow hollow earth tunnels within thick jungle. We emerge on the other side to more spectacular high Andean view-points, - in case the afternoon clouds still allow the view!

 Accommodation in the private guest house of Marcelo and Maritza at Pelagallo, sitting alone on the ridge.

 
 
 

Day 8:


Relaxed return ride to the ranch, while overlooking the places we went before from up high. A gentle day with time to let impressions sink while riding.


Farewell drink and return to Quito. Arrival in town around 4 pm.

Optional Day 9:

Instead of driving you back to Quito on day 8, we take you some further into the magic of the Cloudforest by car, to end this Andean riding experience with some special time to take it all in again.



We'll be welcomed into a unique lodge with hot showers and delicious, wholesome food. The bamboo-built, rounded “dome house”, allows a 360-degree few on the vivid bird- and plant-life around us: The place is surrounded by hundreds of colorful hummingbirds,often Toucans and bright blue shining Jays. From the balcony of our shared room, we can enjoy a breath-taking view far over the cloud forestand listen to the sounds of exotic birds, before the mist races in.


After a hearty breakfast, a tour of Bellavista reserve is open to whoever wishes. Self- guided maps help you to design your adventure through this Andean jungle. We have plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the variety of plant- and bird-life before lunch. Transport back to Quito in the afternoon and arrival by 4 pm.

Optional frame days:

As much the main- as the extended program can be booked as travel packages with 2 extra days, one before and after the ride, including your pick-up service from/to the airport, 2 nights B&B in Quito with, 24-hours free Internet. As the new airport is now far away from Quito, we recommend to book this extra service to ensure your safe participation on the trip.

Price/person for main programme 8 days/ 7 nights :                         1550,- USD 


Price/person per extra day and night with described services:           190 - 220,- USD


Single room fee for whole trip (where available):                               270,-USD


Requirements:     2 - 8 persons with riding experience (levels: strong intermediate to                             expert). Fitness and adventurous spirit required!

                            Maximum rider weight for this trip: 85 kg.