Depart in the morning from Quito and drive towards the towering Cotopaxi Volcano and arrive to El Porvenir, a fully-functioning hacienda and our base for the next three nights, set high in the Andean paramo with spectacular views of Cotopaxi. A brief orientation is given in the morning at Hacienda El Porvenir to get acquainted with the horses. We head out on horseback in the spirit of the Chagras (Ecuadorian highland cowboys) to visit the foothills of Rumiñahui Volcano, riding side by side with herds of wild horses and bulls. As we cross the paramo, enjoy the bird and wildlife, and the native guides will share their knowledge of medicinal plants. Afterwards a delicious lunch of local dishes awaits us upon our return to the farmhouse.
The afternoon is free to explore the hacienda grounds, and there are a couple of self-guided paths to the Manto Blanco Waterfall and to lookouts with nice views of the mountains and surrounding landscape.
Click here to watch Youtube video to learn more about El Porvenir and the Tierra del Volcan's area near Cotopaxi.
This morning we participate in a forest reforestation initiative to plant trees in Hacienda El Porvenir to regenerate forests that were adversely affected by wildfire and outdated practices of clearcutting. This program has planted over 400,000 trees to date with a goal of one million trees, and the forests provide crucial habitat for wildlife and protects the soil for productive agricultural use and the watershed that supplies the water to Quito. The group will participate in tending to saplings in the nursery, planting, weeding existing areas, and preparing land for next season's planting. Return to El Porvenir for lunch.
After lunch, design and paint interpretive signs that will be placed in the Cotopaxi National Park or in adjacent reserves the following day. The topics include conservation, Leave No Trace ethics, waste managment, and warnings against illegal hunting and fishing. Staff will be there to provide Spanish translations and determine the topics based on the current needs of the Cotopaxi National Park service and the private reserves in the area.
After breakfast we will travel by vehicle to Cotopaxi National Park's northern region. We wil visit Pucará Del Salitre, a strategic military fortress of the Inca Empire that was used to monitor the roads that led to the Amazon Rainforest and Latacunga Valley. Continuing our trip we will stop at Chirimachay Springs, and from there, hop on the mountain bikes for a 12.5 mile trail ride. During the ride we will place the signs that were painted the day before.
We ride to El Tambo, a pre-colonial Inca refuge and stockyard that hosted and supplied the Inca travelers that moved through the area on the road to the jungle. We stay at the hacienda that has the original handcrafted stone floor of the Inca tambo, and this magical place is surrounded by volcanic sand and has fantastic views of Cotopaxi.
After breakfast, we will start our trek to Quilindana Volcano on the Eastern Andean Cordillera. On a clear day we can see the less known sides of Cotopaxi and Antisana Volcanoes. We will trek towards Yurac Cocha (White Lake) and Verde Cocha (Green Lake) . This area is part of the Condor Biosphere, a 5.4 million acre conservation project consisting of public and private land. After our five hour hike, we return to the Hacienda El Porvenir where dinner is waiting.
Transfer by vehicle to the Hacienda Santa Rita Ecological Reserve to explore the area by zipline. This system was originally used by scientists who were doing research in the area. The zipline provides a great vantage point for birdwatching and enjoying the scenery and is an adrenaline rush as you soar above the ground. After a pack lunch, the group will be lead by the reserve's park rangers to perform trail maintenance and rehabilitation.
In the evening return to Quito.
$260 single supplement
Please note there is a minimum group size of 6 travelers for this service project.