20th Mar 2012
Cotopaxi: Horse riding through the valley of Volcanoes
Sharing breakfast was a good time to get to know our fellow travelers even better. Every day people would leave and new people would arrive, the hostel could accommodate around 20 people at any one time. We had quite a mixed group, of nationalites and ages from all cornes of the globe.
Today we would all be splitting into different groups for different activities. The Americans, the Brits and the Sweedish were heading up to try reach the summit of a volcano around 4700m. Roxy, Myself another Australian couple and a Canadian girl were all about to saddle up for a 5 hour horse ride through the country side.
I had never ridden a horse before so was little nervous, Roxy had but only years and years ago when she was quite young. Roxy had a horse named Cochoalita, mine was named Lissanne Claro – they were beautiful creatures.
Hopping into the saddle was not issue and with our feet in the styrups we were off. It took a while to get used to the feeling of the hard saddle on your backside, however with some advice from the guide it got easier and easier. We took it slow at first enjoying the country side all round us, passing river streams small waterfall and farmhouses.
As we passed through small villages, the local dogs would run out and bark at the horses. The horses would simply look at the dogs with no interest and reaction at all and keep walking; the dogs had a look of satisfaction on their faces as if they had chased away these giants. After around 2.5 hours we stopped at a nice little stream with impressive views of what appeared to be a mountain range, but was actually more active volcanos. We enjoyed some sweet tea and banana cake – a welcome chance for everyone to stretch the legs.
Its funny you don’t feel the effects at all of riding the horse, until that is you get off – then immediately you start with the John Wayne type Cowboy walk!
Our return trip took us through different villages; again dogs ran and barked at the horses. Donkeys were tied to small metal stakes, looking awfully sad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happy looking donkey. Cows roamed freely in the paddocks, and wild horses approached us curiously and carefully and I’m sure wondered what these weird creators were attached to their fellow friends backs.
As it started to rain, three of the horses must have been a little startled and started to canter of into the near distance – our guide asked me to yell in English as he only spoke Spanish to get them to pull on the reins. They were two far away however so the guide quickly got his horse “Alfonso” into full stride and caught up quite quickly. As he did, my horse shot off as well, along with the other Australian girl Ali behind. I could hear her squeal as our horses were flying along, trying to catch up to the group – the feeling of being slightly scared and excited at the same time was such a rush.
From that point forward I enjoyed getting the horse to run off in small little bursts. It was great having such a long ride, allowing you to get used to your hourse and how responsive they were. They were fantastically behaved and very easy to control.
Close to home base it started o rain quite heavy and we were all soaked however nothing could wipe the smile from our faces. Approaching the farm house, the other horses neighed as if excited that their friends had made it back and then jumped in anticipation of them being let free again in their paddocks – amazing to witness.
We showered, and warmed up by the fire place before spending the afternoon in the Jacuzzi overlooking the volcano we had climbed yesterday sipping on wine and beer. The rest of the afternoon was then spent on the hammocks or inside talking to the new arrivals before enjoying an incredible last meal and exchanging details with our new friends. The Australian couple it turns out was from Adelaide and new a few people we visited in the Barossa only last year. As we keep saying, it’s such a Big Small World.
Time spent mounted on horse: 5 hours 15mins
Number of times anyone fell off: 0
Time spent in Jacuzzi to releif John Wayne pain: 2 hours 30mins
Dinner: Burritos with Brownies for Desert = amazing
Countries represented by people in house: Sweden, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, England