Published on : Thursday, June 2, 2016
For the horse lovers, here are some of the best equestrian destinations you might like to keep up on the bucket list.
Argentina – Las Pampas
Argentina has a long history of horse riding, and none more so than the vast grasslands and steppes of Las Pampas. There are two distinct possibilities here.
The first is to join gauchos, traditional cowboys, to round cattle that graze on the open plains. They ride on Argentine Criollos, a selectively bred robust horse. By night bed down at comfortable estancias, enjoying hearty home cooked cuisine, washed down by some of the finest Malbecs. The second is polo, of which the Argentines are champions. Unlike Europe, polo is a sport for the masses and this region offers the opportunity to hone your skills.
Brazil – The Pantanal
The Pantanal is the largest wetland in the Americas, spanning an area the size of Wales. It also is one of the greatest wildlife spotting regions in the world. These flooded plains are a haven for colourful macaws, parrots, storks whilst caiman alligators lurk and jaguars roam the river banks. Due to the terrain horses play an essential role in daily life here. Although some exploration can is by foot or 4×4, horses allow access to some of the remote parts of the wetlands. On some trips the horses may swim across deep stretches with you hanging on.
Chile – Lake District
There are few places that match the beauty Chilean Lake District. Bubbling rivers and clear lakes fed by turquoise glacial melt-waters punctuate the fertile valleys, meadows and forests. As you ride there is a backdrop of snow-covered volcanoes in the distance. Could there be anywhere more scenic for a horse ride? Hardy Criollo horses are well suited to the hilly terrain. After a tiring days’ ride, take a therapeutic soak in the hot thermal springs.
Costa Rica – Arenal Volcano
The mighty Arenal Volcano towers over the town of La Fortuna. By night the active volcano may put on a natural firework display, molten lava spewing from its peak and dribbling down the cone. In the day it’s possible to horse ride around the volcano’s base through primary forests and cattle ranches. From this unique perspective you can appreciate the volcano’s size. Another excellent ride nearby takes you to La Fortuna Waterfall. Along the way riders can spot plenty of wildlife including monkeys, coatis, peccaries and exotic birds like toucans.
Ecuador – Andean cordillera
Horse riding has played an important role in rural Ecuador since the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. The plains and pastoral valleys of the Andean cordillera are well suited for exploration on horse-back. Centuries old haciendas, past estates of Spanish colonists, still breed horses. These make perfect stop-off points for longer rides. No other mode of transport offers the same access to Ecuador’s spectacular scenery. Riders will gain an insight into the Andean local way of life. Pass farmers working the fields like their pre-Incan ancestors, or children herding llamas.
Mexico – Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon, located in Mexico’s northern Sierra Madre, is perhaps best known for the train journey. Yet horse riding in this wild and dramatic scenery is an unforgettable experience. Traverse terracotta tinted canyons, along the rims and down through the deep valleys. Feel immersed in the region like in a western movie. For longer rides spend a night or two in one of the small towns or pueblos dotted along the route.
Peru – Trujillo
The Peruvian Paso is a breed descending from royal horses brought by the Spanish. Pasos are known for their gentle nature and smooth, comfortable ride. The breed is so highly regarded by the Peruvian government it declared them a National Cultural Heritage. To see these horses at their finest, visit the competition of Paso Horses in the northern city of Trujillo. You will also have the opportunity to ride them if you wish.
Uruguay – Wetlands & Coast
Uruguay’s small size makes it easy to get around. Its cattle-raising traditions mean horse riding is second nature to rural life. Guachos are highly regarded in Uruguay, and the perfect companions to show you the countryside. Ride their Criollo horses where you can learn the art of cattle herding. On horseback you can explore the interior wetlands, a wildlife haven with hundreds of species of birds. Uruguay’s diverse landscapes of forests, rivers, lagoons, and sifting sand dunes mean rides are never dull.