My long-anticipated Adventure Vacation finally happened. My Ecuador/Galapagos adventure started with meeting up with my son Jonathan in Miami and we traveled the rest of the trip together as a father-son adventure.
After spending the night at Hotel Mercure in Quito, the adventure started when our personal guide Andrian from Tierra del Volcan picked us up and took us to Hacienda Santa Rita. There, we collected the necessary gear and hiked up hill until we got to one of the seven Zip Lines the hacienda has to offer. I was excited to try the sport for the first time. What an adrenaline rush, thats me in the photo!
The next adventure at Santa Rita was a hike down a canyon to a waterfall; it was a beautiful “cascada” as they call it in Ecuador. I took several photos of it as well as the wide variety of wildflowers in the area.
After hiking back up we headed south to Hacienda El Tambo, another Tierra del Volcan property where we would spend the next two nights. The hacienda sits at about the twelve thousand foot elevation. There are no power lines in the area so they run there own generator for a few hours after dark, after that it is candles, then nothing. It was already dark out when we got there; being on the equator nighttime comes just after 6 PM. After washing up, it was time for the first of many great meals we would eat there. During dinner we learned that the next day was “Rodeo,” one of three days each year at the Hacienda where their cattle are rounded up and brought down from the higher grazing areas to the big corral near the main house. There, they are checked, sorted, vaccinated and eventually sent to a different area to graze for another four months. It was a great option to be able to travel sustainably to a working Hacienda.
What we thought was to be a simple horseback ride adventure the next day morphed into our essentially being issued a horse, boots, chaps and a wool poncho. We were invited to help with the cattle drive, an adventure beyond my wildest dreams, something that only happens in the movies. How could we say no? Over six hours on a horse going up through rough country to approximately fifteen thousand foot elevation, watching out for rogue single bulls that like to charge anything that moves, falling in behind the cattle and helping to bring them in produced a very sore butt and wobbly knees but it was worth every minute of it. That evening the rodeo celebration started around 7 PM with an outdoor barbecued dinner with the real cowboys (chagras), a good quantity of alcohol, and for some of the people, singing and whooping it up in celebration of a successful “Rodeo”. Adventure is not a strong enough word for rodeo, it went far beyond that!
The following morning we did another hike north from the El Tambo main house. We hiked up close to fourteen thousand foot elevation and got to experience some pretty amazing views. After doing about forty percent of the distance, we turned around and headed back to the Hacienda. We then headed for Tierra del Volcan’s third lodge, Hacienda El Porvenir. Prior to another great dinner, we were assigned rooms and then given a tour of the many different types of rooms available to guests. Every room is decorated in a different theme from the others. My room was actually the “Honeymoon Suite,” a very large room with a large bed and a fireplace that made the room cozy warm. As an additional perk, the maids put a hot-water bottle in the beds when turning them down in the evening.
In the morning, we did a normal horseback riding adventure. I had sufficiently recovered from the rodeo ride to enjoy this relatively slow, two-hour ride. We got good views of the agricultural valley and a few good sightings of 19,347-foot high Cotopaxi Volcano during breaks in the clouds. The final Tierra del Volcan adventure was one final hike to a nearby waterfall. El Porvenir plans to install a generator and tap ten percent of the water from the top to generate their own electricity.
Andrian took us into Quito where we said good-bye. Next we headed to the Galapagos, stay tuned for Part 2
Guest post submitted by Jeremy Burnham