Discover the rugged and imposing terrain of the Andes in the company of real working cowboys or 'chagras'. You'll spend each day in the saddle marveling at the surrounding volcanoes and in the evening enjoy the hospitality of your hosts in a comfortable hacienda.

Day 1: Your immersion in Andean culture begins with an early breakfast and a 1.5 hour drive down the Avenue of the Volcanos to the private reserve of Hacienda Santa Rita. Here you'll saddle up and set off through native forest until breaking out into the páramo or open high country of the extinct Pasachoa volcano. Up here amongst the high peaks you may come to gain an understanding of the connection between the locals - descendants of the Incas - and the land around them. After the ride of about 3 hours you'll transfer to Hacienda Por Venir, part of the Tierra De Volcan haciendas, where you'll spend the night. (L/D)

Day 2: Start the day with a hearty farm-style breakfast before heading towards the slopes of the extinct volcano Rumiñahui. Along the way you'll likely hear local legends and tales, see herds of wild bulls, Andean birds and wildlife, all while breathing the pure, crisp Andean air. You'll eventually get close to the rocky peaks of Rumiñahui from where 12 more volcanoes are visible on a clear day. A visit to Chusigmachai, an owl refuge, completes the day's exploration before riding back to the farm house. You'll have spent about 4 hours in the saddle today. (B/L/D)

Day 3: Today after breakfast you'll set off from Hacienda El Porvenir, riding towards the northern plateaus of Cotopaxi National Park towards Hacienda El Tambo. Wandering through a magical world of páramo grass that is full of moss, lichen and high-altitude bromeliads and passing mountain rivers and small lakes, all make riding up here so enchanting. On the way you'll visit the Pucará del Salitre, an ancient Inca fortress, riding constantly in the shadow of the colossal snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano. By the time you return to the hacienda in the afternoon you'll have ridden about 6 hours. Transfer back to Quito. (B/L)

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