On Friday we went on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. For us anyways. We had the opportunity to go horseback riding in the crater of the Pululahua volcano north of Quito Ecuador. Green Horse Ranch is located in the farmland on the crater floor of the volcano and is owned by a wonderful German lady named Astrid who has lived in Ecuador for 25 years. Pululahua crater is one of only two inhabited volcanoes in the world. We drove 1 hour north of Quito through an arid desert climate to the very top of the crater edge. As we pass through the gate, we enter the crater that makes up the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve and the climate immediately turns to very green and tropical. The drive down from the gate to the crater floor took 45 minutes along a one lane dirt road clinging to the cliff walls. We have to say that Astrid, who lives in Quito, has the most interesting commute to work we have ever seen. When you look at the first pictures, bear in mind that we entered the crater over the very top of the rim and then descended down to the bottom. Once at the bottom, we reach the ranch and meet the guides and the horses. With 25 horses, there are many personalities for the guides to choose from based on our riding experience. We got all mounted up and set off through the crater. Our full day ride takes us through the most incredible surroundings. Along the base of the inner crater walls, down through steep narrow trails surrounded by orchids, palms, banana trees and pineapple plants. After passing through the crater breach, where the magma escaped the crater during the eruption in 467 BC, we descended into a beautiful valley. This is where we will stop for lunch. Astrid has chosen a perch on top of a ridge with sheer drop-offs on either side with a magnificent view ahead of us of the Sacred Valley. Right in front of us is an ancient pyramid where the ancient Quitu-Cara people lived along the river in pre-Inca times. It looks like a hill in the photo but in reality it was chosen for its location and shape and the right side (in the photo) was carved away and homes were built on the terrace. On the top, a temple and likely an observatory were built. We don’t know exactly what this one was but others have been excavated by archeologists and they have found evidence that the observatories built on the top of the pyramids were built exactly on the equator with sundials having included angles of 23 ½ degrees from the centreline. Which amazingly is the earth’s angle of inclination to the sun. How in the hell did they figure that out? There is so much to learn about these incredible cultures. First the Inca invaded in the 15th century and then shortly thereafter, the Spanish. Now us modern folk are here and I can’t even get the kid at Starbucks to get my change right. As someone wise said to me recently, it isn’t the highest intellect that wins, but rather those with the best weapons. Gives us reason to pause I think.
We finished lunch and rode back to the ranch. What a wonderful day and we want to thank Astrid, Christine and Karen for a truly memorable day. If you ever find yourself in Quito, you absolutely must visit the ranch and take in a ride. If we come back to Quito another time, we will definitely sign up for a 3 day ride with Hacienda stays and everything. Hope you enjoy the photos and thanks for stopping by. Ciao for now.