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.
A thirty minute drive takes you to the Hacienda Santa Rita Ecological Reserve and the impressive 270 feet high Condor Machay Waterfall. Continue on foot along a trail that takes us through a very unique native forest of the Andes known has the "paper bark tree forest". Continue to the village of El Pedregal where we will have the chance to experience the local culture of the area before continuing to El Porvenir. Today's hike is 11 kilometers (7 miles).
After enjoying the views of the volcano over the last three days, we drive for 45 minutes into the Cotopaxi National Park. An hour hike takes us to the climbing hut (refugio) and a nearby glacier at 4,800 meters (14,760 ft) above sea level.
Continue by vehicle to visit Laguna de Limpiopungo, a shallow Andean lake with great birdwatching, and from here we start our ten kilometer (7 miles) trek back to El Porvenir. We stop at the Chusig Machai cave for lunch and continue on foot through beautiful mountain valleys before returning to a good dinner and the last night at the hacienda.
Today explore the forest canopy by zipline. The zipline provides a great vantage point for birdwatching and enjoying the scenery and is an adrenaline rush as you soar above the trees. After the flying adventure, hike to the Pita River waterfall for lunch. (Zipline available starting March 2014. Or choose an alternate excursion this morning such as mountain biking or ropes course challenge). After the flying adventure, hike to the Pita River waterfall for lunch.In the afternoon, travel to Sangolqui, a village with a traditional market. Browse the market stalls with traditional arts and crafts and sample some of the local produce, particularly the fruits. Return to Quito in the evening.
$195 single supplement