Ecuador: Day Trips on Horseback to the Pululahua Crater and Beyond

Consider if you will, that in Ecuador, a region only half-as-big as Great Britain, you will find Amazon rain forests; snow capped Andean peaks, a breathtaking Pacific coastline, the Galapagos Islands, and a variety of flora and fauna that will take your breath away. At the same time, the country boasts a cultural spectrum that includes Indian, Mexican, African American and European.

Now consider how exciting it will be for you to see such a diverse region complete with all this flavor from your comfortable viewpoint on the back of a horse! Sure, you can rent a car, ride a bike, or go by foot, but a horse gives visitors a unique perspective when traveling through Ecuador’s rugged countryside and forests.

One of the most popular areas for horseback trekking (sorry but the term “horseback riding” just doesn’t seem to do the experience enough justice) lies in the Andean highland, just a scant 15 kilometers north of the Capital City of Quito. There, the 4000-year-old but now-dormant volcano of Pululahua awaits. Its geographical position, mild climate, and stunning countryside make this one of Mother Nature’s great playgrounds. Especially appealing for adventurers who wish to do their trekking on horseback.

Traveling on horseback gives you the opportunity to get up close to this exciting landscape, which includes the furthest corners of the crater, deep gorges, rushing mountain streams, warm volcanic springs, and tropical mountain forests. The only sounds you’ll hear in addition to the excited beating of your heart will be the rhythmic clip-clop of your horse’s hooves.

The Pululahua volcano is also the starting point for many interesting riding excursions that lead into the rain forests, above the tree line into the cloud forests and even to the nearby Handcraft Market at Otavalo.

The robust little mountain horses typical of the area are perfectly suited to this terrain, which, as you would expect from the middle of the Andes, gets very steep and quite dense and overgrown. Each horse has a distinct personality — they’re quite used to these day-long jaunts in the wood — but all the horses offered visitors are amiable and easy going, sure-footed with plenty of stamina.

Tours are lead by an experienced multilingual guides from a variety of departure points. Whether you opt for an hour’s ride, a day trip, or a long trek, Ecuador-on-horseback puts you in the heart of some of the most stunning scenery you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Check out the Tours link on for points-of-contact with reputable stables and farms that can coordinate day trips (or longer) for trekking through the brush on horseback. Most provide transportation from Quito as part of the package. For extended trips, access’s Accommodations link for hotel and motel information.