Wild Andes Expedition

Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador: (IT-ECRT09)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/ecuador_wild_andes_ride.aspx

Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador
We begin our adventure at a family-run hacienda and organic dairy farm located in the heart of Ecuador’s magnificent, Volcano Avenue. The Hacienda sits on 135 hectares, nestled in the fertile valley of Machachi, near the small village of Aloag. Built a century ago, the Hacienda has retained its stately elegance and original character, as well as its exquisite surrounding gardens awash with colorful roses, native flowers, graceful trees and intricate outdoor stone work. Filled with historic charm, the Hacienda’s large rooms are filled with antiques that have been in the Espinosa family for hundreds of years. To reach the Hacienda, one drives along a cobblestone road originally built by the Spaniards and Incas, lined with tall, majestic Cedars, Eucalyptus and Cypress trees and lush greenery.

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 us 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 we also have the opportunity to enjoy two thermal springs.

The Hacienda's mission is to provide the finest eco-tourism adventures and horseback riding in the country. We offer a warm and inviting atmosphere in our historic Hacienda, and provide the personal attention needed to make you feel like family.  Our horses are exceptional; we breed our own horses and their ancestors are Berber (local horse), Andalusian and Arabian breeds.


This is a progressive ride where nights are spent in different locations. 

Hacienda Alegria has very nice and comfortable accommodations. The accommodations along the way are more basic, but all authentic and comfortable. There are 2 people per room with private showers in every accommodation. There is internet access available at La Alegria and in several accommodations on the way.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Nights 1 & 2: Hacienda La Alegria
Night  3: Hacienda Bomboli
Night  4: Hacienda La Alegria
Night  5: Hacienda San Jose in Sigchos
Night  6:  Samay Kirutoa Lodge at Quilotoa crater
Night  7: Camping at Guambaine 
Night  8: Camping at Salado hot springs 
Night  9: Chimborazo refuge
Night 10: Accommodation in Banos
Night 11: Hacienda La Alegria

Hacienda La Alegria
The Hacienda was built in 1910 in Franco Italian Style and has been renovated and restored. It is made out of adobe and stones and its walls are over 80 cm thick! It is nestled amidst lush surroundings in the typical fertile and green farmland of the Ecuadorian inter Andean plain at an altitude of 2880m (9449 ft).
The Hacienda is a family-run organic farm and the hospitality of the Espinosa household is remarked upon by visors who return year after year. You will be welcomed with a roaring log fire in the sitting room, and in your bedroom when the nights are cold.
The farm can accommodate up to 24 people both in the farmhouse and a recently completed extension. The extension has been tastefully restored with solid cypress floors and beams and modern en-suite bathrooms with plenty of hot water and powerful showers. Split-level family rooms sleep five comfortably. Wi-fi internet is available at this property.

Hacienda Bomboli
This property offers basic accommodation for up to 16 guests. It is set in a beautiful rainforest and each room has its own bathroom with hot water. Due to its remote location, cell phone service is very limited and there is no electricity. The house is kept warm and lit with fireplaces and candles and your hosts even puts a warm water bottle in your bed before you go to sleep.

Hacienda San Gabriel (part of Hacienda San Jose) in Sigchos
The accommodation features simple rooms with a variety of arrangements (single, double, twin, triple or quadruple). Facilities include free Wi-Fi access and an indoor swimming pool.

Samay Kirutoa Lodge at Quilotoa crater
This lodge offers comfortable accommodations with spectacular mountain views. There are only 7 rooms and each are simply decorated with respect to the surroundings. There is a garden where guests can relax and free Wi-Fi internet is also available.

Chimborazo refuge
This refuge is known as Ecuador’s highest altitude refuge, sitting at 5000m above water level (16,404 ft). It offers basic accommodation in dormitories and outdoor bucket-flushes toilets. There is no electricity at the refuge.

While camping, you will be sleeping in 2 or 4 person tents. We provide you with a Thermarest inflating mattress and sleeping bag. When camping in Guambaine there is a small house that we use for cooking and having dinner and breakfast. There are no showers and you need to dig a hole in the ground for washrooms. In Salado, you can relax at the hot springs and there are were toilets and showers facilities.

There is access to free Wi-Fi almost everywhere (except when camping) and laundry services are available at Hacienda La Alegria for a small gratuity.

Room Occupancy
Single supplement is mandatory is we cannot find another rider to share.

All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 12.

Meals are featuring delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian food. You will never go hungry with 3-4 courses offered per meal. Soups are a specialty in the highlands that we will use to warm our bodies after a good ride. Main courses can be chicken, pork, beef, trout, tilapia, pasta and more. Don't forget to save room for dessert!

This trip includes some wine/ beer with dinner.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to most dietary restrictions with prior notice.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.



Our horses are very important to us. We have more than 35 riding-horses as well as about 30 mares and foals. Most have been bred here on the farm from mixed Criollo (native South American), English Thoroughbred and Arabian stock, resulting in a near perfect combination of toughness, agility, calm temperament and “mountain sense”. Beginners and experienced riders alike have found them easy to ride, willing and good mannered.
We are happy to follow the Natural Horsemanship principles when training our horses.

There is a range of tack including North American style, English style, McClellan cavalry, Chilean and traditional Ecuadorian "Chagra" style with its intricate leatherwork and saddle horn.

Your host Gabriel comes from a family steeped in equestrian tradition. His grandfather bred racing horses close to Quito and his father, was a keen polo player.
Gabriel and Paty's three daughters are all keen riders, and the enthusiasm of the whole family is reflected in the quality of the horses at the farm. We are proud to share that Gabriel was recently nominated as MAESTRO GUIA ECUESTRE -- there are currently only 3 in the world with this title.


Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Day 1: Arrival
Arrive to the Hacienda early morning (around 9:30am if you want to get in 3-4 hours of riding) and ride to get acquainted with the horses and tack that we will use during the ride. Then we ride around the neighboring Haciendas. Our first experiences at altitude starts this first day. Lunch in the Hacienda house, visit the milking barn and aging cheese cave, and enjoy the hot tub and fireplace.
Riding: 3-4 hours
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda La Alegria

Day 2: Introductory Ride
In the morning after breakfast, we 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 we will be riding during the trip. Arrive for a late lunch, and an afternoon tour of our farming operations.
Riding: 4 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda La Alegria

Day 3: Ride to Corazon & Cloud Forest
In the morning we ride west towards the Corazon to 4,000 meters and descend to the cloud forest. We ride by 3 different ecosystems as the valley, paramo and arriving to cloud forest. At the cloud forest, we 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, we arrive for tea at Hacienda Bomboli (3,000 m) and relax by the fireplace, enjoying the sunset and watching the lights of the villages near the coast. Our hosts will treat us with a great meal.
Riding: 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda Bomboli

Day 4: Machachi Valley Ride
We leave behind the cloud forest and ride the old road that until 1960 connected Quito with the coast. From there we can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and we can also see the routes we will take the next day along the east mountain chain. Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests we arrive to the valley for a snack. Delicious dinner at the Hacienda.
Riding: 4+ hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda La Alegria

Day 5: Ride to Sigchos
This second part has long journey on the saddle. We will be transferred one hour south of Hacienda Alegria by car to start our 6 day adventure at the southern Andes. Today we will ride by the Inca trail and dirt roads and paths that takes us to Sigchos, the village that was known as the “last home” of the Inca general Ruminahui. From this day on we will ride through a dramatic landscape, including steep ravines and narrow passages. Even though we can visualize where we are heading and it looks near, we 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. We arrive at the Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guest house, in time for a good meal, Jacuzzi, sauna and rest. Our horses will be have lush fields of fresh grass, the last for the remainder of the expedition. 
Riding: 7 hours (approx. 35 kilometers)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda San Jose

Day 6: Sigchos to Quilotoa
After breakfast we head south to the Quilotoa crater lake. The trail goes by the bottom of the Toachi canyon, where we 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 our hostal is awaiting. At the cliff of the volcano, we 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.
Riding hours: 8+ hours (approx. 42km)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Samay Kirutoa Lodge in Quilotoa, close to the crater lake

Day 7: Quilotoa to Guambaine
Zumbahua is the next village at which we will start the trekking to the high Andes. We then find a small isolated homestead of about 50 families. There are no roads nearby and the only connection to civilization is by a 3 hour path to Angamarca. We 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 the climax of the adventure. We will be the first tourists arriving to the area, camping overnight and using one of the grass huts for a kitchen. We will be 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.
Riding: 7+ hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Guambaine, camping

Day 8: Guambaine to El Salado
Early morning we will have the opportunity to admire the extraordinary combination of the sunrise and the clouds arriving from the west cloud forest. We will encounter a dramatic change of the ecosystem “paramo”. Riding from the high mountains to the lowland valleys (3700 m), we 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). We will admire a ravine that originates from the  Chimborazo volcano (6,300 m, 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 we will arrive to a hot springs where we will set up the camp and enjoy a nice BBQ dinner.
Riding: 7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Salado, camping

Day 9: Chimborazo and Carihuiarazo Volcanos to Urbina
The expedition continues all day along the Chimborazo skirt;  will be a challenging ride with many different sceneries with dry hills, swampy areas, and rocky hills. We will ride east, crossing into the eastern Andes mountain chain. With the Carihuairazo volcano (elevation 16,463' / 5,018 m) on our left, the scenery changes from a desert full of running vicunas to swampy green paramo. The area is full of climber paths and we will finish the day on the east face of Chimborazo volcano (inactive - elevation 20,564' / 6,268 m).
Riding: 6+ hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in Urbina

Day 10: Igualata and Tungurahua Volcano
Last day of our expedition will be the Tungurahua volcano (elevation 16,480' / 5,023 m - last eruption in 2014) area that has been affected over the last 14 years with volcanic ash and periodic eruptions.  This ride completes our journey through the east. We ride by fertile hills with potatoes, beans, and cash crops on the side of the Igualata volcano. The landscape is dotted with mini-farms up to 4000 meters high. We start the downhill to the Chambo canyon and arrive to the Tungurahua volcano skirts. The volcano and the changes of the scenery from 4000 m to 2400 m. high  makes and impressive scenery. Our horses will go back to the hacienda and we stay on Banos.
Riding: 8+ hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Banos

Day 11: Hacienda La Alegria
Visit Banos that is based on the skirts of the volcano, a very unique city that is the entrance to the amazon jungle region and well known for their thermal water springs. Transfer by car to Hacienda La Alegria
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda La Alegria

Day 12: Departure
Transfer to airport after breakfast
Meals included: Breakfast

Rates and Dates for Wild Andes Expedition

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals including wine/ beer with dinner on some nights & 10 riding days with bilingual guide (English, Spanish).
Wool ponchos, rain ponchos, chaps, saddle bag and helmets are provided - let us know in advance if you would like to borrow one of these items
All camping equipment is provided including inflating mattress and sleeping bag

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    202012 day trip, AP (10 riding days)$3400

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2020 Transfer from Quito w/ return (1 - 4 passengers) per car
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
2020 Extra day with meals and riding at the hacienda, dbl, pp $220
2020 Extra night (B&B- no riding) $75
2020 Small group supplement (2 pax only), pp $150
2020 Single supplement, where applicable $150

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 02/05 - 02/16 12d / 11n 12 day trip, AP (10 riding d... 2 /6 Expired
A 2020 08/14 - 08/25 12d / 11n 12 day trip, AP (10 riding d... 2 /6 Reserve
A 2020 11/20 - 12/01 12d / 11n 12 day trip, AP (10 riding d... 2 /6 Reserve

Dates Note: Hacienda closed from Dec 21 to Jan 3

Rates do not include:

Departure tax, Transfers ferom/to Quito, Insurance & Gratuities

Other Info
Meeting: Quito Airport or Hotel
Airport: Quito
Transfer: Quito (airport, hotel, or bus stop)

                                            Sigchos‎‎ area














Average High Temperature (°F)













Average Low Temperature (°F)













Average High Temperature (°C)













Average Low Temperature (°C)













Source: NOAA

Day temperatures can vary considerably in the mountains (65º F during the daytime, 40º F at night). Average temperatures will range in 50’s.
Temperatures in Cotopaxi National Park and the surrounding region vary little throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is 45° F (7°C). Seasonal variations and night-time temperatures range between freezing 32°F (90°C) and 68°F (20° C).

Visitors are recommended to bring several layers of clothes including a warm sweater and protective rain-wind jacket, hat and gloves.
The rainy seasons run between January and May and October and November. The main dry season of June to September though the strong winds are known to occur. December also has a short dry season and the time around Christmas is normally considered the best weather of the year.

What To Bring:
Our partner can supply: wool ponchos, rain ponchos, rubber boots, full chaps, horse bag, and helmets. For camping equipment they can supply sleeping mats and sleeping bags- although they highly recommend you bring your own as theirs are more worn out. Please let us know if you'd like to borrow any of these items.


Shirt: Cotton or wool, long sleeved or turtleneck
Sweater: Heavy wool or fleece sweater or vest
Trousers: Full length, wool, blend, or pile or other warm pants
Underwear:  Light-weight (polypropylene) thermal underwear, top and bottom
Headwear: Skycap, wool hat or wide brim felt hat, bandana, and sunglasses
Jackets: Insulated or Gore-Tex mountain parka for rain and wind (important)
Gloves: Wool, leather, or polypropylene, recommended water proof
Socks: Wool or polypropylene
Footwear: Tennis shoes, lightweight hiking boots, or runner boots (if your shoe size is 9.5 US or less, boots are available at Hacienda La Alegria).

Camping Equipment:
-10 degree C rated sleeping bag
At request we can provide the sleeping bag and sleeping mat, but recommend you bring your own for quality.

Cosmetic kit (reduce to minimum)
Sunblock +30 and lipstick ointments (important)
Flashlight with extra batteries
Camera extra batteries

There is no set weight limit for your luggage as it will be transferred by car. 

…  this list is only a guideline for you


Hidden Trails Travel Documents and TripVoucher (contains important local tour contact info.)

Flight tickets


Visa (check with your consulate)



Riding pants or Jodhpurs (used if possible!)

Riding boots (short) + Minichaps

Riding helmet  (recommended for all trips)

Riding gloves

Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection

Lightweight Rain coat



Jacket or sweater for cool evenings

Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts



Underwear and socks


Bag for dirty clothes

Trekking boots/ comfortable shoes



For Camping trips:

Sleeping Bag

Ground Mat (Thermarest or foam mattress)

Towel and small bar of soap



Personal Toiletries

Insect protection

Personal medications

Sore cream (for an emergency)

Sewing kit

Torch/ Flashlight

Adapter for electric appliances

Camera and extra film or batteries

Belt pack

Address book and pen (for postcards!)

Sun glasses with strap

Sun protection lotion and lip balm