submit to reddit GoNOMAD Travel          Instagram
Riding toward a volcano in Otavalo, Ecuador. Photos by Max Hartshorne.Riding toward a volcano in Otavalo, Ecuador. Photos by Max Hartshorne.
Galloping Toward a 

Volcano in Otavalo

By Max Hartshorne

Otavalo, Ecuador
is a town made famous by its sprawling Indian market.  Today the city is building a totally new, four-story version of the market that takes up most of the downtown every day of the week.

It's a popular place for tourists and locals, with endless stalls of brightly colored scarves, sweaters and pottery.

I was warned to watch out for the many Chinese knock-offs that are sold as genuine Indian crafted scarves, and I did notice that among the pretty hand woven scarves and wraps were lots of junky Chinese products. 

I was happy to find a carved wooden skull and pleased to that my negotiating skills got to a nice price of just $8.50.  One thrilled grandson later, I was thankful.

The drive from Quito Airport to Otavalo was spectacular, a combination of high desert mesas, winding roads, and a thousand roadside signs offering roses.

Hoeing by hand: field-workers in Otavalo.We passed through the country’s rose growing capital, with big greenhouses full of these flowers and orchids. For the two-hour trip, it cost me $70 each way. 

My driver told me that this big highway was being widen
ed, and that by next year the two lane road would all be six-lanes, three in each direction.
Looking at all of the shops and gas stations which stand in the way, it’s hard to imagine a six-lane road.   After a short tour of the market, we drove out of town on a big highway and turned into Hosteria Hacienda Pinsaqui.

This country hacienda has 30 rooms and serves a delici
ous lunch in their restaurant. Each room comes with a fireplace that each night is lit by an attendant.  Each room is unique, with its own signature element, be it a cool sink, a dramatic hearth, or a four-poster bed.

After coffee, I was told the immortal words I’ll never forget—“Sir, your horse is ready.”   I was ready to discover this pretty country on the back of Maradona, a calm mare wearing a western saddle.

My guide was Juan Carlos, he could speak a little English and grinned at me from up ahead. Especially when he wanted to start cantering, and I kept up with him. "You like going fast?" he said. Hell yeah!Inside the Hosteria Hacienda Pinsaqui.Inside the Hosteria Hacienda Pinsaqui.

Power of the Horse

I am not sure when the last time was that you climbed aboard a horse and rode into the countryside, but for me, this was the highlight of my whole trip to Ecuador.  We made our way out of the stables up steep dirt tracks, beside a stream, then through a tunnel and up around a poor neighborhood.

At each house a dog would run out and start barking hysterically at us, but Maradona remained calm, she wasn't scared of no puny yappy dogs.

Out into a series of fields we passed farm workers hoeing the seedlings and cows tethered to short ropes, grazing in a circle. At one small cinderblock house, a young woman was doing her wash, rubbing a shirt against a stone and slapping it down, following a centuries-old method.

dress-seller-otavaloDress seller at the Indian market in Otavalo, Ecuador.

Most of the houses were dark inside, and everyone we passed looked as if it was no surprise to see two men ride through their village on horseback. 

Ecuador's interior is often overlooked by travelers heading for the Galapagos, a full 80 percent of visitors never see places like Otavalo. The country has four distinct environments, and it's not hard to get from one to the other.  

The views from the road and the wide open spaces here make it a perfect place to ride. 

If you get a chance to visit Ecuador, I'd highly recommend a horse excursion!

Read another story about Ecuador by the same author on GoNOMAD


Turtles in the GalA!pagos Read More Stories About Ecuador on GoNOMAD Riding Down
Riding toward a volcano in Otavalo, Ecuador. Photos by Max Hartshorne. Galloping Toward aA Volcano
Condors at Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador ByA Karin-Marijke Vis It was almost like a dance: seven
Martin Cotopaxi, at 19,347 feet, one of the world's tallest active volcanoes, in Ecuador. The recent
Dancing at The Surf Shak in Canoa, Ecuador. Photo by: Canoa, Ecuador
A GoNOMAD Photo Gallery Quito, Cuenca and Otavalo Ecuador A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A
A The Plaza San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador. Coen Wubbels photos. Bathing in Luxury at the Casa
in Ecuador. Coen Wubbels photos. ByA Karin-Marijke Vis "Ready? Off we go!" JosA(c), a guide, unchains
Ecuador: Amazon, Andes and Darwin By Julian Smith ItAs hard to believe that thereAs
-Lodge' in the Cloud Forest of Ecuador Santa Lucia Reserve, Choco Andean Region, Northwest Ecuador
, Ecuador Riding Down the DevilAs Nose: The Infamous Nariz del Diablo by David Joshua Jennings
Isla de la Plata and a lot of BoobyAs Off the coast of Ecuador, an island where rare birds thrive
A Riobamba, Ecuador Riding Down the DevilAs Nose: The Infamous Nariz del Diablo by David
A Heading for a tunnel on the Highway of the Waterfalls in Ecuador - photos by Jon Brandt
Along the route of the Devil's Nose Riobamba to AlausA, Ecuador Riding Down

Tags: storySection: Equestrian Travel
Location: Ecuador,South America
author: Max Hartshorne
New Travel Articles


Subscribe to GoNOMAD's monthly enewsletter for all of our new travel articles
Get our free monthly travel newsletter
and help support sustainable and responsible tourism.
No spam, no selling
your email, we promise!

Subscribe to our email newsletter!

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

amazon ad300x250