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HORSEBACK RIDING
A four-footed tour
Dominic Hamilton (with some first edition text by Derek Davies)

Extracted from the Traveler's Ecuador Companion The Globe Pequot Press. Reproduced with permission. Photos by Dominic Hamilton.

Ok, Ok, I know they're llamas, but I don't have any photos of horses. They're the closest thing I had, and, come on, it is a nice photo, no?An essential part of the old hacienda way of life, horseback riding is becoming an increasingly popular pastime with guests of the new hacienda hotels. And since many guests are interested in visiting more than one hacienda, the owners and managers are developing a system whereby you can ride from one to another, while arrangements are made to transport your luggage. "Every day another horse, every day another hacienda" is this motto of this system. In the Otavalo area, Haciendas Cusín, Pinsaquí and Zuleta, as well as Casa Mojanda, can all coordinate tours for you. Highly recommended (but not cheap) tours throughout the country, ranging from short tours for inexperienced riders to nine-day expeditions, can be arranged with Ride Ecuador tel/fax (022) 437644 web site www.rideandes.com (useful site).

More locally, Hacienda San Agustín de Callo tel/fax (03) 719160 in Quito (Mignon Plaza) (022) 242508 fax (022) 269844 e-mail mplaza@access.net.ec web site www.incahacienda.com , for rides around Cotopaxi, own some wonderful horses and have experienced guides. Horse trails around Baños abound, but you should choose your nag carefully. Experienced guides and healthy horses can be found at Hostal Isla de Baños TEL (03) 740609, , through Ivan at the Pizzería Napolitano near the Plantas y Blanco Hostal, and asking for Caballos José and Angel Aldáz' horses.

For tours around Chimborazo, contact Pulingue San Pablo (or 'Waman Way') TEL (03) 949510 or 949511 e-mail waman_way@hotmail.com (Spanish only) or Tom Walsh e-mail twalsh@ch.pro.ec , with advanced notice for local guides who know the trails like the back of their machetes. Riding horses through the wilds of Cajas National Park is a great way to explore the area. Contact Monta Runa Tours tel/fax (07) 846395 e-mail montarun@az.pro.ec at Gran Colombia 10-29 and General Torres, in Cuenca, for these.

Also very popular for horseback rides is Podocarpus National Park. The easiest way to arrange a tour there is through the operators in Vilcabamba. These include Caballos Gavilan TEL (07) 580281 e-mail gavilanhorse@yahoo.com , with has a long-standing reputation for fun trips; Martine and Bernard (who are French) of Solomaco Lodge tel/fax (07) 673186 e-mail solomaco@hotmail.com ; the community-based Avetur or Centro Ecuestre TEL (07) 673151, and Charlie and Sarah of Cabañas Río Yambala (no phone) e-mail rio_yambala@yahoo.com or yambala@impsat.net.ec web site www.vilcabamba.cwc.net .

On the coast, horsy tours can be arranged with Hostería Alandalutel tel/fax (04) 780686 or 780690 in Quito (022) 505084 fax (022) 543042 e-mail booking@alandaluz.com web site www.alandaluz.com , and also with Guacamayo Bahíatours TEL (05) 690597 fax (05) 691412 e-mail ecopapel@ecuadorexplorer.com web site www.qni.com/mj/riomuchacho , Avenida Bolívar and Arenas, of Bahía de Caráquez.

 
To celebrate the deal, Guide2Galapagos is offering Ecuadorial visitors an exclusive offer: Book a Luxury class yacht with them, and they'll give you THREE AIRPORT TRANSFERS FOR FREE; two for first class and one for tourist-superior. So, what are you waiting for? Check out their highly-informative site. Blue boobies, giant tortoises, sealions and marine iguanas are only a click or two away!

SMALL PRINT: On the request page, you must state you came from Ecuadorial to benefit from the airport transfer offer.
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