In this guest post by Magali Ipina (a Canadian expat living in Quito, Ecuador) you’ll read about her family’s adventure at Hacienda El Porvenir. Read her blog for the Travel Agency Gxpeditions and follow them on Facebook.
Hacienda El Porvenir: Horseback Riding Adventure
My daughter and I have in common a love for nature, the countryside and horses.
My newly-wed husband is not THAT thrilled of being away from his desktop and what he calls “civilization”, but is happy to open his mind for a weekend and tag along our escapades from the busy city he adores (Quito).
The thought of galloping with the winds of the High Andes had me dreaming for a while, so I booked us a night at the Hacienda El Porvenir, only one hour and a half away from Quito (right by the Northern Entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park).
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the stunning Andean countryside. Cows are grazing quietly, the wind is blowing in the llamas’ furry coats, herds of horses are running freely, and you are surrounded by not one, but 4 volcanoes:
- The Cotopaxi
- The Rumiñahui
- The Pasachoa
- The Sincholagua
More reading: The Wild Horses of Southern Ecuador
Upon our arrival, we are welcomed with freshly fried empanadas and a canelazo, a traditional cinnamon-based hot drink from the Andean Highlands of Ecuador. After sipping our drinks by a fireplace, we decide to go for a 2 hour hike on a self-guided trail with great views of the Cotopaxi.
The trail passes by herds of horses and cows and through Andean woods (this Hacienda replanted more than 250,000 native trees in the sector).
Our daughter was very happy to spot a rabbit and find Andean blueberry plants (mortiños) that we ate on the way. The loop offers great viewpoints to admire the volcanoes close-by and we were lucky enough to have a good look at the majestic Cotopaxi despite a few clouds around it.
After a satisfying walk, we come back for a good night of sleep in our Machai room, the most economical lodging option they offer (after camping). Our daughter is thrilled to sleep in the eaves of the roof! Room prices range from $35 for a Machai Single room to $169 for a family suite.
The Chagra Experience
On our second day, we dress warmly and meet with Rafael, the experienced chagra (Ecuadorian Cowboy) who will be our guide for the 2-hour horse ride we signed for.
He gives us riding helmets, wool ponchos (do not underestimate the cold wind at an altitude of 3,800 meters!) and traditional sheepskin chaps.
Horseback Riding Paradise in the Midst of Volcanoes
The Hacienda owns about 60 horses from which up to 25 are fit for horseback riding. Our companions for this excursion, Chugo, Carbon and Llanero are very well behaved criollo horses.
At first, Rafael ties our daughter’s horse to his (she is only 7 years old after all) but when she asks to ride on her own, he “cuts her loose” and she has no trouble keeping the pace. We pass by a bull ring where wild horses are being tested for an upcoming rodeo, an Ecuadorian tradition still kept alive.
As we climb higher and higher through open paramo we can enjoy the stunning mountains and volcanoes surrounding us and the mesmerizing tall grasses dancing with the wind.
The Mirador of the three guardians is our final stop before returning to the Hacienda. A llama, a female chagra and a male chagra are believed to guard the Cotopaxi and keep its spirit calm. The clouds prevent us from enjoying the sight of the Cotopaxi this morning, but if you go on a clear day, you can enjoy a stunning view from this point.
During our ride, we have the chance to spot Andean birds such as a partridge and an Andean falcon. The local fauna includes rabbits, curiquingues (Andean hawks), Andean foxes and even condors!
Coming back from our horse ride, the staff has freshly squeezed lemonade ready for us, a nice touch to conclude our stay.
Our weekend at Hacienda El Porvenir went by flying and my only regret is having booked only one night! On our next trip, we will make sure to try the High Ropes Course and witness how they hand-milk their own cows and make fresh cheese. We will definitely be returning there soon!
Hacienda El Porvenir Information
- Address: 4km from the Northern entrance to Cotopaxi National Park in Machachi, Ecuador
- For more information, visit: www.tierradelvolcan.com/hacienda-el-porvenir
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you been to Hacienda El Porvenir? Please share your experience below! Have a question for Magali? Join her in the comments!