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Parks, Zoo, Gardens
Fun for kids
Mountain Bike Tours
In Vilcabamba you can do as much or as little as you like, it is all up to you ! Find a hammock somewhere and watch life go by or go crazy doing millions of things
Aron Marsh on Wilson's horse Picaflor (paso puro)
Emily 1 with horse in Podocarpus and Emily 2 with Wilson in
And by the way, riding horses is great but grooming them can be fun too!
Anita grooming Wilson's horses at Caballos Gavilan
Horseback riding is popular in Vilcabamba, due mostly to the quality of local horses
and the absolutely stunning natural beauty of the valley. There are rides for all
levels: beginner riders will want to try the four-hour ride around the city. This
is pretty easy, and four hours isn't long enough to get too sore.
For more advanced riders, there are trips up to Podocarpus Park
outside of town.
If you go horseback riding in Vilcabamba, wear long sleeves, sunscreen and a hat.
Your guide should bring water, but having a small bottle along isn't a bad idea.
Carry as little as possible as when the horse starts to run, any cameras, backpacks,
fanny packs, etc. will start to bounce up and down, which is very uncomfortable
and irritating. Most outfitters will provide rubber boots for you to use while riding,
however, if you have very small or very large feet, you might want to bring your
There are several small agencies offering horseback rides in Vilcabamba, just have
a look around the main square area and you'll see at least three or four.
Christopher Minister - Source: Internet
Providers of horse riding in Vilcabamba all offer riding from 2 hours upwards. Some
have horses that are ‘paso fino’. They have a nice smooth way to trot, which means
that you don’t bump up and down in the saddle so much. This is great when you are
traveling on long flat trails or on the road. However, these horses are generally
not the best in precarious mountain trial as the ‘paso’ trot means that they are
not as sturdy on their feet. A paso horse will cost you more than a non paso horse
to hire. Most places are run by experienced people who can take beginners to advanced
riders. Some have better saddle than others.
Look around when you want to go riding. Ask what type of horses they use, paso or
not. Consider the horse trek that you want to do. A non mountain trek would probably
be more comfortable on a paso horse for example. Make it very clear when you tell
the operator your level of experience. BE CONSERVATIVE on this one. It’s better
to be safe than sorry. You don’t want to come off nor does the operator want you
to come off! There are some serious, challenging trails around Vilcabamba. This
is serious riding country not some manicured, fancy man made trail like we have
in western country’s that the horses follow blindly.
Be warned that if you are not an experienced, harden rider and you put yourself
on a 4 hour our longer ride you will more than likely come out of it with a very
sore bottom and other body parts. Don’t blame the operator or the saddle; blame
yourself for putting your poor soft bottom and thighs through torture. If you are
not an experienced seasoned runner you wouldn't go on a marathon, would you?? Don’t
get me wrong, a good saddle will help with reducing the after riding pain but that
is because we “gringos” are a bit soft :-)
One more point to talk about regarding horse treks to the Podocarpus National Park.
During my interviews with horse riding businesses, it became apparent that most
places don’t take you into the National Park. They take you on a property that ‘borders’
the national park. So it is a little miss leading. To enter the national park, you
have to pay and entrance fee and to truly get into the park takes at least a full
day’s ride from Vilcabamba. Properties bordering the national park may have similar
fauna as the park but I would tend to think that they have not been regenerating
as long as the national park has. So if you want to go into the ‘true’ national
park, your operator should be buying park passes for you and it’s going to take
3+ days of riding. I know from my research writing this site that there is park
warden but I don’t know what the fine is if you go into the park without a pass.
Caballos Gavilan is run by Wilson Carpio. We have gone for a number of treks with
Wilson, including a long one on our finca in Sacapo where the horses do not know
the way. The horses have responded well to the riders requests and been even tempered.
Caballos Gavilan also offers horses for sale. A friend of ours who is an experienced
rider has purchased horses here and been very happy with them. We have also gone
for a 1 hour ride with young children on our horses (ages 3 to 6). My only gripe
and I must say it as I’m being honest here is that the saddles aren’t the best (editor's
note: reading Anita's article above, it must be that she is a bit "soft" too :-)).
We have taken the horses out without the guide for a trek and again they have responded
well to the riders requests and been very even tempered.
Julio is a local guide who can tell you a lot about the fauna and history of the
area. With his wife Beatrice, he runs Monta Tours and offers different options from
a few hours to a few days. We took the 2 day tour in the Podocarpus National park
with them and it was a fantastic experience. We stayed in a refuge called Solomaco.
Nearby (2 hour walk), there is a beautiful waterfall that we went to see in the
afternoon of the first day. The food was all prepared for us and it was delicious.
We ate by the candlelight, then Julio played card tricks and told us stories. The
horses were good and Julio runs the expeditions with a spirit of adventure and fun
but also with the maturity and responsibility required to make sure that we all
come back in one piece and with no broken bits. The Podocarpus can be quite wet,
with slippery trails and low lying branches, so it pays to be careful, watch your
head and have a guide who knows what he's doing.
The Pony Club is run by our friend Roman. The Pony Club takes you on tours of Vilcabamba
in a horse drawn carriage. Carriage rides range from 20 minutes to 6 and half hours.
Rides can be for one to five persons. This is a unique and exciting way to see Vilcabamba
and its surrounding areas. It’s a great birthday party event or a very romantic
way to propose. The two of you in a horse drawn carriage riding up the hill
to a lookout point over the Vilcabamba at night. Taking in the lights on a warm
summers evening. And you pop the question! The carriage is also available for weddings,
fiestas, funerals etc.
Offer tours from a couple of hours to several days.
Holger Horses offers comfortable saddles. They have a local guide who can tell you
about the fauna and history of the area.