We offer day rides for those new to riding, travellers with limited time, or those who just want a brief taste of the fresh mountain air! We also run a programme of more adventurous multi-day trips, travelling on horseback through the mountains, forests and paramo (high grasslands) of the Andes. For groups of two or more we are also happy to organise itineraries customised to your requirements.
Horses and tack
At Hacienda La Alegria our horses are very important to us. 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. If you have previous riding experience you will be given plenty of opportunity to canter.
We have a range of tack including North American style, English style, Mclellan calvary, Chillean and traditional Ecuadorian "Chagra" style with its intricate leather-work and saddle horn.
- Day rides
- Multi-day adventure trips
- Cattle round-ups
- "Avenue of the Volcanoes" ride
- Cotopaxi & Ruminahui ride
- Machachi to Baños ride
- Custom riding itineraries
Hacienda La Alegria is dedicated to low impact tourism. We offer a variety of activities for those interested the ecology of this immensely bio-diverse region.
La Alegria is ideally located for a hiking trip into the mountains. The hacienda is situated on the lower slopes of Volcan Corazon in the heart of the "Avenue of the Volcanoes", a spectacular valley dividing the eastern and western ranges of the Andes. We can arrange accredited mountain guides if required, and can supply maps and directions for local peaks: Viudita (3760m), Corazon (4788m), Ruminahui (4712m) and Pasochoa (4250m).
Viudita is a three hour round trip and is ideal for a morning or afternoon acclimitzation hike. Corazon is a long day hike from the farm for fit and acclimatized hikers. Because the physical distances between the mountains are much greater than in the European Alps or the Rockies, you might like to consider the option of combining hiking and riding. We can ride to Corazon, Ruminahui and Pasochoa, taking the horses up onto the paramo (high grassland) from where spectacular hiking is possible with the option of returning to the hacienda for a hot shower at the end of the day.
Ascents of Illiniza Sur (5263m) and the classic cone of Cotopaxi (at 5897m the highest active volcano in the world) offer the possiblity of some adventurous riding combined with more serious mixed terrain climbing. Previous mountaineering experience is not necessary, but acclimitization on the smaller peaks mentioned above is essential (we speak from personal experience!). We work closely with accredited mountain guides for these trips and can arrange a riding / climbing itinerary to tackle these summits.
From Hacienda La Alegria there are a number of options for mountain bikers. For those looking for downhill thrills, descents of Viudita and the lower slopes of Corazon and - for the ultimate adrenaline rush - Cotopaxi are possible. The countryside surrounding the hacienda is interlaced with cobbled roads lined with ancient eucalyptus trees, giving a timeless feel to trips through the local villages and farms. On these roads you are more likely to encounter horseback traffic than motor vehicles.
One of the unique features of the environment around Hacienda La Alegria is the endangered habitat of the Ecuadorian cloud forest. These subtropical montane rain forests used to cloak much of the steep western slopes of the Andes between 1,000 and 2,500 meters, but are now classified as threatened. We are extremely fortunate to have an area of unspoilt primary forest close to La Alegria.
These luxuriant forests rank among some of the most bio-diverse habitats on the planet, with an astonishingly profusion of plant life, including orchids, epiphytes ("air plants"), tree ferns, bamboo, wax palms, podocarpus and aliso. Bird-watching is popular, with hummingbirds, nightjars, and other exotic species present in the forest (Ecuador boasts more bird species than any other country).
We can either drive to the edge of the forest slopes and hike from there, or ride through the forest on horseback (within easy reach for a day ride).
Agro-tourism and volunteer work
Hacienda La Alegria is a working dairy farm and visitors are invited to tour the farm (and participate at milking time if they wish!) We are also interested in taking on volunteers looking for work experience with the horses or teaching english and promoting sustainable ecology at nearby village schools.
La Alegria also runs a programme of fun, educational summer camps for schoolchildren from the locality and the coast. The camp offers children the opportunity to have an unforgettable, healthy, character building holiday in the mountains. Activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseriding lessons, horse care, camping and excursions to the surrounding mountains and cloud forest and local sites of interest. There is an educational focus to the camps, with a strong emphasis on ecology and conservation.