If you love horses and want to experience Ecuador in a unique way, consider this five-day journey to volcano country. On this trip, multiple days are spent in the saddle as you traverse the high plains, stopping off to take in the views or walk amid stands of native trees. Magical nights are spent in the Andes at haciendas, where you'll eat hearty meals and rest up for the next days' journey.

Highlights

  • Experience 5 days of horse riding across the Ecuadorian Highlands
  • Spot local flora and fauna with the help of naturalist guides
  • Visit Pucará del Salitre, an ancient Inca fortress
  • Trek on foot through native forests

Route Map

Cotopaxi 5-Day Horseback trek.

Overview

This 5-day horseback trek is an ideal way for active travelers to explore the stunning volcanic landscape of the Ecuadorian Highlands. Each day is spent crossing the stark highlands in the shadow of giant volcanoes. Experience with horses is not required, but five days in the saddle can be tiring. We recommend taking a couple of day trips on horseback first to get accustomed to being in the saddle for multiple days. 

Brief Itinerary

Day  Activity  Overnight 
Day 1 Rumiñahui Volcano Ride Hacienda El Porvenir
Day 2 Cotopaxi National Park to Hacienda El Tambo Ride Hacienda El Tambo
Day 3 Quilindaña Volcano Ride Hacienda El Tambo
Day 4 Hacienda El Tambo to Hacienda El Porvenir Ride Hacienda El Porvenir
Day 5 Santa Rita Ecological Reserve Ride Quito

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Horseback ride along the slopes of Mt Rumiñahui 

Heading into the mountains on horseback towards the magnificent Mt. Rumiñahui. 

We depart Quito in the early morning and travel to Hacienda El Porvenir, an old farmhouse converted into a hotel.

After a brief lesson in handling horses, you'll go horseback riding in the highland plains along the slopes of the magnificent Mt. Rumiñahui. We will see herds of feral cattle, birds and other wildlife as we move across this verdant landscape. Our ride continues to the rocky peaks of Rumiñahui, from where we can view 12 more volcanoes on a clear day. Before returning to the farmhouse we will stop at Chusigmachai, an owl refuge. A packed lunch will be provided during the trip. 

Day 2: Horseback ride in Cotopaxi National Park 

Horses grazing in Cotopaxi National Park.

Today we'll travel by horse from Hacienda El Porvenir to Hacienda El Tambo, located on the eastern mountain range. We will need about 6-7 hours to cover the 43 km journey. The colossal Mt. Cotopaxi looms in the distance as we travel along horse trails, past small lakes and mountain streams. The journey includes a stop at Pucará del Salitre, an ancient Inca fortress. Lunch will be provided on the trail. Upon arrival at Hacienda El Tambo farmhouse, we will rest up after the long journey and enjoy a traditional highland dinner by a warm fire. 

Day 3: Horseback ride past Mt. Quilindaña 

Horseback riding through fields near Quilindaña dormant volcano.

The dormant volcano Quilindaña is our destination for today. The horseback trek crosses the foothills of this spectacular peak, which reaches a height of 15,999 ft (4878 m). We will pass forests of native trees such as pantza and polyepis (paper tree). Time will be spent walking through these gorgeous woods, which are full of moss, lichen and high-altitude bromeliads. A packed lunch will be eaten en route.  As you walk through the woods your guide will recall some of the local legends, and then we'll ride back to El Tambo for a delicious dinner. 

Day 4: Horse ride back to Hacienda El Porvenir

Exploring the highlands on horseback, with Mt. Cotopaxi in the distance. 

On Day 4 of this journey, we follow the River Tambo on horseback to the base of Mt. Cotopaxi. Then we take the route used by locals to Chirimachai. We'll cross the Curipugyo Canyon (“place of gold” in Quichua), where we can see clear evidence of past volcanic eruptions. A packed lunch will be provided. In the afternoon we head back to Hacienda El Porvenir, crossing Cotopaxi National Park on a spectacular, panoramic route. 

Day 5: Santa Rita Ecological Reserve Ride

Verdant landscapes of the Ecuadorian highlands are great for horse riding and hiking. 

Our journey ends with a horseback ride at Hacienda Santa Rita, a private eco-reserve located at 3300 m above sea level. We'll ride through native forests until we reach the páramo of Pasochoa. On the way, we can take in the magnificent scenery of the mountains and snow-capped peaks around us and spot local flora and fauna. After having a packed lunch we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Quito.

 
 

Map

Map of Cotopaxi Volcano By Horseback - 5 Days
Map of Cotopaxi Volcano By Horseback - 5 Days