The Land of Volcanoes and Haciendas

03/Diciembre/2012 | 15:35

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Though it is called the land of volcanoes, and its greatest opportunities are best discovered through the tour company of the same name, visitors to one of the hemisphere’s most majestic national parks might best remember it as the land of plenty…plenty to do, that is.

Tierra del Volcan is a tour operator that coordinates visits to their three haciendas: Tambo, Porvenir, and Santa Rita, all in or near Cotopaxi National Park.  Their focus is eco-tourism and adventure tourism, but their specialty is almost everything that could imaginably be done in the Andes Mountains. 

Visits to Tierra del Volcan can be all-inclusive or tailor-made and you can get to know the entire park by visiting all three haciendas or simply take it one at a time depending on your schedule and your interests.

Hacienda Porvenir

3,600 meters altitude, 1 ½ hours from Quito

Porvenir is the emblematic hacienda and iconic setting for visits to Cotopax with its rustic and warm colors matching equally the experience of the Andean highlands.   Here visitors get to know this 2,000 hectare property by  horseback riding, trekking, camping, or biking (cross country and downhill), or they can simply sip canelazo by the fireplace in between great Andean meals whose recipes have been handed down from generation to generation.

Though visitors can camp at Porvenir, the hacienda offers ample accommodations to fit your style. Machais ($35-80), Hacienda rooms ($95), and suites ($139), with additional beds ($21) are available (service and taxes not included).   But Porvenir offers the ideal day visit to Cotopaxi where you can enjoy lunch and activities a la carte with guided or self-guided tours by horse, bike, or on your own two feet.

Hacienda Santa Rita

3,200 meters altitude, 1 ½ hours from Quito

For camping under the Andean sky (away from the lights of Quito), Santa Rita is a 500 hectare, private ecological reserve, half of it covered by a protective forest, one of the few natural, high-Andean forests still left in Cotopaxi.   It is a launch pad for exploring the area on foot with trails designed for short, medium, and long hikes. The forest provides access to the area’s native fauna, including more than 150 species of bird.

Santa Rita sits along the Rio Pita Canyon with easy access to the 90-meter Condor Machay waterfall.   Tours can be guided (bi-lingual) or self-guided.  Use of campgrounds is $6 per person ($3 for kids).  Lunch can be provided for an additional $6. For those who need a touch of civilization, the hacienda house, 500 meters away provides hot water and showers and food can be provided upon request and for an additional charge.   The campgrounds at Santa Rita offer a safe, comfortable, and family-friendly camping experience in Ecuador.

Hacienda Tambo

3,600 meters altitude, 3 hours from Quito

Hacienda Tambo is a 4,000 hectare working hacienda with 800 head of cattle.  It is the birthplace of the chagra (Andean cowboy) culture and offers one of the few opportunities to experience a genuine cattle drive, part of the normal operations of the hacienda.  Tierra del Volcan also offers tailor-made adventures on horseback and a chance to live the chagra life for a few days.  

Sitting at the southeastern extreme of Cotopaxi National park in the skirts of Quilindaña volcano and next to snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano, Tambo can only be reached by first stopping at Porvenir before entering and traversing the national park. Through their custom-made tours Tierra Volcan offers three ways to get there:  car, bike, or horse.  No cell phone or Internet services means you have no choice but to connect or reconnect with nature or family.   Overnight stays at Tambo are $39 per person plus $6 conservation fee.  Breakfast and dinner are included (taxes and service are not).

Three in One – Volcano Ride

If you want to taste it all, Tierra del Volcan offers a four or five day tour where visitors get a taste of Cotopaxi National Park from every angle.  One day at Santa Rita ziplining and trekking is followed by a day on horses at Porvenir before spending your third day traversing the national park on specially made biking trails (or ride in the jeep if you prefer).  Hike and fish at Tambo on your fourth day before heading back and stopping to visit the Cotopaxi refugel.  Cost is $120 per day, all activities, meals, and transportation included (they will even pick you up and return you to your doorstep in Quito).

To visit Tierra del Volcan and any of their three haciendas call the offices at 2-600-9533 or 094-980-121 or write to  [email protected]


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