An authentic trail ride through the Eastern Highlands of Colombia exploring one of the most appealing horse cultures in the world. On average, we spend about six hours a day in the saddle, making our way along centuries old rolling horse trails, through the mountain landscapes of the Cordillera Oriental, crossing the desert of La Candelaria, through the province Cundinamara to the tropical province of Santander. We ride way off the beaten track, discovering hidden places, stopping from time to time to share a refreshing beer in a picturesque village with the most friendly Latin Americans of the continent. You will soon understand why they say; “Colombia, el unico riesgo es que te quieras quedar” meaning; “Colombia, the only risk is that you want to stay”

En route we stay in traditional haciendas, guest houses and hotels and, one night, in a monastery. We ride Colombian criollos, sleek and fit. Colombians love horses: fairs, festivals and horse parades are common all over the country. We meet many of these horse enthusiasts on our trail. One highlight is the opportunity to ride a pure bred Paso Fino Colombiano at a renowned breeding stable and experience the smoothness of the gaited Colombian criollo horse, the Paso Fino Colombiano. All in all an unmissable experience for a horse enthusiast.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from EK of Kamloops on 16/02/2019

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday

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Day 1
Bogota – Ubaté, Hacienda Potosi
9am meet at the hotel in Bogota. It is advised you arrive in Bogota the day before and stay overnight in a local hotel (please enquire if you would like this to be booked for you). Road transfer to the Hacienda “La Casona” in Ubaté, 64 kms from Bogotá. Along the way we stop for lunch in a typical restaurant. After lunch and a short drive we arrive at La Montesa, a renowned breeding farm of Colombian Paso Fino Horses where you will ride these pureblood horses and experience why they say the Paso Fino is the smoothest horse in the world! We continue to for little drive to hacienda “La Casona” for overnight and dinner.

Day 2
Hacienda La Casona – Hacienda Potosí 21 Km (aprox. 5h riding)
After breakfast we meet and match horses, prepare equipment, saddle up and start the ride at 9:00hrs. During our first day we ride through the green fields of Cundinamarca, the biggest region for dairy cows in Colombia. Around noon we arrive a one of the oldest Colonial farms of Colombia, Punta de Vega where we will have lunch.
After a good meal and siesta we continue riding to “Hacienda Potosi” where we will arrive around 17:00hrs. Owner Marta will more than probably will like to show us her champion draft horses.
Dinner and overnight.

Day 3
Hacienda Potosí – Ráquira Silvestre 34 Km (aprox. 6h riding)
After breakfast we saddle the horses and start ride at 9:00 a.m. This day we will be crossing Oak tree forest and enjoying stunning panoramic view of Ráquira. We will stop for a snack at colonial Hacienda Ticha and have a late lunch at the country house “Ráquira Silvestre” where we overnight in typical Colombian country style accommodation. There will be some time to relax followed by dinner with Carrangueros - Colombian folk music accompaniment.

Day 4
Ráquira – El Monasterio 13 Kilometers (aprox. 3,1/2h riding)
After breakfast we saddle horses and ride scenic route to Ráquira for lunch and to experience local handcrafts. Today we will have the chance to ride a pure bred Paso Fino Colombiano at a renowned breeding stable and experience the smoothness of the gaited Colombian criollo horse, the Paso Fino Colombiano! A unique experience as this horse is so different than anything what you have ridden before,
After that we will ride to famous Monasterio La Candelaria where we will overnight. Monasterio La Candelaria was founded in 1597 by Augustine monks who will show us around the through the chapel, a small museum, the library, and the courtyard flanked by the cloister with a collection of 17th-century canvases hanging on its walls (double rooms for couples, and bedrooms with 2 to 4 beds for the single participants).

Day 5
Monasterio – Villa de Leyva 35 km (aprox. 8h riding)
After breakfast  we saddle horses and ride to Villa de Leyva at 8:30 a.m. We will have picnic in the dessert and arrive at the beautiful colonial city of Villa de Leyva at 5:00 p.m. Accommodation at Hotel Plazuela de San Agustín (double rooms for couples, and bedrooms with 2 to 4 beds for the single participants). Rest, walk into town
Dinner

Day 6
Villa de Leyva - Gachantiva 25 Km (aprox. 6h riding)
After 09:30 a.m. breakfast we saddle horses and start long day ride with snack halt and lunch along the waterfalls of La Periquera. There will be wonderful opportunity to refresh and swim close to waterfall. We continue the ride as landscape change in a more tropical vegetation. After a nice day in the saddle we arrive at the guesthouse El Molino around 10:30 p.m. We will have a good local dinner and play Teja, the most popular rural sport of Colombia.

Day 7
Ganchantiva – Moniquira 35 kilometers (aprox. 7h riding)
After breakfast we saddle horses and start ride at 8:00 a.m. Todays ride leads through a lovely tropical landscape. We end our week in the saddle at a local and typical sugarcane mill where will have a toast to the end of the trip. Lunch around 2:30 p.m
In the afternoon we will enjoy the swimming pool of rural hotel Los Arrayanes where we will have our farewell dinner and spent the night.

Day 8
Moniquira - Bogota
After breakfast in Bogotá you will be transferred by private bus to Bogotá airport (4 hours approx.) for your international flight.

We will do everything possible to follow the indicated itinerary, although spot changes can occur due to unforeseen circumstances. Rides are subject to change depending on weather, location and difficulty of terrain. In the unlikely event that this happens on your trip, we ask you for flexibility and understanding.

Open Bar

There is an option to pay US$110pp on day 1 for all drinks to be included for the week (alcoholic & soft beverages).
This includes beer, caipirinha, guarana, Coca Coca, Fanta, Sprite, coffee, tea, milk, water etc. Wine is not included but you can buy this at each farm (price dependent on brand).

US$60pp for soft drinks included all week.

Single Supplement:
A single supplement is payable for those wanting to guarantee a room to themselves; however this is not possible on every night and riders must be prepared to share at some locations on the trail. Where there is the possibility to guarantee a single room, the single supplement cost (€60 per night in 2017) is payable on-site.

Extension Possibilities:
You might want to stay longer to enjoy The Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean, the Andes mountains and the Sierra Nevada, the mighty Amazon forest, Latin America’s most beautiful city Cartagena, plenty of picturesque villages, pre-Colombian sites like the Lost City, fascinating fauna & flora - name it and Colombia has it! No other country on the continent can compete with multi–cultural and natural Colombia.
Staying longer after the trail ride to dance salsa, to relax at a Caribbean beach, to go scuba diving or hiking in the Andes or to go on a Chalan horse-riding course is definitely a good plan. And be warned, the risk is that you want to stay! Talk to us to see how you could extend your holiday.


Reading List
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.

The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found   A young Englishman who travelled in Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico, in part to trace the fascinating story of his great grandfather's adventures in Central America a century ago. There is a great twist at the end, which we won't spoil.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The horses are Colombian Criollo/Cruzado and on Day 4 you will have the chance to ride a pure bred Paso Fino Criollo. The saddles are comfortable Colombian trail saddles. Guides are professional and multilingual (fluent in English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and basic German). The guides are equipped with mobile phones so they can call for assistance if needed. Groups comprise a minimum of 6 riders and maximum of 16 riders. You will be riding in mountainous terrain at average of 2000m above sea-level, experiencing vegetation from tropical to savannah - crossing green valleys and also the desert (desierto de la Candelaria). The landscape is very diverse. There are daily canters/gallops several times a day. The pace is forward going with trots and canters making up around 25% of the daily riding time.

Rider requirements

This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders. You should be confident at all paces, over all terrain (including mountainous) and expect long hours of riding. There are 6 days on horseback with around 6 hours riding per day. There is no need to dismount and lead your horse on this ride.

Riders mustn't exceed the weight limit of 264lb/120 Kg. The minimum age is 12 years old, children must be accompanied by an adult.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 255 lb/116 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Nights will be spend in authentic, clean and comfortable ranch and hotel rooms in different colonial Haciendas. The Haciendas are original farms, not build for tourism, and so have original interesting features. Most rooms have 2 to 4 beds (double rooms for couples and bedrooms with 2 to 4 beds for the single participants). Colombia's varied cuisine is influenced by its diverse fauna and flora as well as the cultural traditions of the region. Colombian dishes and ingredients vary widely by region. Some of the most common ingredients are: cereals such as rice and maize; tubers such as potato and cassava; assorted legumes; meats, including beef, chicken, pork and goat; fish; and seafood. Colombian cuisine also features a variety of tropical fruits such as cape gooseberry, feijoa, arazá, dragon fruit, mangostino, granadilla, papaya, guava, blackberry, lulo, soursop and passionfruit. Colombian food is inspired from the Mexican kitchen. Among the most representative appetizers and soups are patacones (fried green plantains), sancocho de gallina (chicken soup with root vegetables) and ajiaco (potato and corn soup). Representative snacks and breads are pandebono, arepas (corn cakes), aborrajados (fried sweet plantains with cheese), torta de choclo, empanadas and almojábanas. Representative main courses are bandeja paisa, lechona tolimense, mamona, tamales and fish dishes (such as arroz de lisa), especially in coastal regions where suero, costeño cheese, kibbeh and carimañolas are also eaten. Representative side dishes are papas criollas al horno (roasted Andean potatoes), papas chorreadas (potatoes with cheese) and arroz con coco (coconut rice). The meals on the trail are inspired from the lists above; food is homecooked and fresh, giving riders a real taste of Colombia. Typical drinks in Colombia are of course coffee and hot chocolate milk, in which they dip cheese. Beer is also popular and you will no doubt get to sample the Colombian 'Aguardiente' which is an anise-flavoured sugar cane liqueur - also known as fire water! Open Bar – All you can drink – One price: There is an open bar/all you can drink option on this ride whereby you pay the guide on Day 1 for the drinks you will consume on the holiday: Option A) €100 p.p. for all alcoholic drinks & soft drinks during the entire week. To be paid on Day 1. This includes beer, Aguardiente, rum, Coca Cola, Colombiana, Sprite, Coffee, Tea, Milk, Water, etc. *Wine is not included but wine can be bought at each hacienda. The price of a bottle of wine depends of the brand and quality. Option B) €50 p.p. for all soft drinks during the entire week. To be paid on Day 1. This includes Coca Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Colombiana, Coffee, Tea, Milk, Water, etc.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:
British nationals can enter Colombia for up to 90 days as a visitor without a visa at the discretion of the Colombian Immigration Officer on arrival. You may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel. Check the latest entry requirements with the Colombian Consulate General in London before you travel.
You may be able to extend your stay once you are in Colombia by up to 120 days by applying at the immigration office Migración Colombia. As a visitor, you can’t remain in Colombia for more than 180 days in any 12 month period. Don’t overstay your visa.
If you’re a British-Colombian dual national, you must enter and leave Colombia using your Colombian passport and Colombian identification card (Cedula).
If you enter Colombia by land from either Ecuador or Venezuela, make sure you have your passport stamped by the immigration authorities. Failure to do so may result in a fine on departure. If the immigration office on the border is closed, seek help at the nearest office of Migración Colombia.

Passport validity: Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Colombia.

Colombian Consulate in London:
3rd Floor, Westcott Place
London W1B 1AE.
Tel: 020 7927 7123 - Fax: 020 7637 5604


British Consulate, in Bogota:
Cra 9 No. 76 - 49 piso 9
Bogota-Colombia
Email: consular.bogota@fco.gov.uk
Tel: (+571) 3268300

Climate Summary

Colombia is a tropical country and a large part of Colombia is moutainous territory with altitudes between 1000m and 5000m. It is hot and humid all year around at the coast (Carribean and Pacific) and in all low lands. During the trail ride you will be riding in the Cordillera Oriental within the departments of Cundinamarca and Santander on an altitude between 1500m and 2500m where temperature is about 23C during the day and about 14C at night all year round. The last 2 days of the trail ride will be at a lower region in Santander where temperatures go up to about 28C during the day and about 20C at night.

Climate Chart
Health

At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.
Travellers should ideally arrange an appointment with their health professional at least four to six weeks before travel. However, even if time is short, an appointment is still worthwhile. This appointment provides an opportunity to assess health risks taking into account a number of factors including destination, medical history, and planned activities. For those with pre-existing health problems, an earlier appointment is recommended.
Most travellers are recommended to vaccinate against Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Awareness of Malaria risk and bite avoidance is recommended.
There is a risk of altitude illness when travelling to destinations of 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) or higher. There is a point of elevation in this country higher than 2,500 metres. An example place of interest, Bogota 2,644m.
Travellers should spend a few days at an altitude below 3,000m.
Where possible travellers should avoid travel from altitudes less than 1,200m to altitudes greater than 3,500m in a single day.
Ascent above 3,000m should be gradual. Travellers should avoid increasing sleeping elevation by more than 500m per day and ensure a rest day (at the same altitude) every three or four days.
Acetazolamide can be used to assist with acclimatisation, but should not replace gradual ascent.
Travellers who develop symptoms of AMS (headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and sleep disturbance) should avoid further ascent. In the absence of improvement or with progression of symptoms the first response should be to descend.
Development of HACE or HAPE symptoms requires immediate descent and emergency medical treatment.

Health (ride specific)

The highlands in Colombia is a safe region in terms of health. You can easily eat and drink anything and eating raw vegetables, salads and ice creams is no problem.
There are no vaccinations required and there is no malaria in this part of Colombia.
In case of illness or an accident, there are good hospitals and doctors nearby.

Film and Camera Equipment

•Voltage: 110 V
•Frequency: 60 Hz
•Power sockets: type A / B

In Colombia the standard voltage is 110 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type A / B


In towns and villages there is mobile Internet access and phone coverage everywhere. During the riding trip full time coverage is not guaranteed and there is almost no internet access.

Packing List

Valid international passport
Travel Insurance
Pocket money (you can change EUR/£/USD in the airport)
A warm sweater and a jacket
4 or 5 T-shirts and minimum 2 shirts with long sleeves.
Jodhpurs or jeans to ride in
Riding shoes or boots / riding shoes with mini-chaps or long chaps
A second pair of shoes for the evening
Swimsuit, comfortable clothing + a Hat (a nice Colombian hat can be bought on location)
One towel
Toiletries
Sun Cream
Water bottle/canteen
Camera
Head torch
Lip sunscreen

Raincoats and saddle bags are provided.

* It is recomended to put your luggage in a soft travel bag instead of a hard suitcase. 10 bags are easier to get in the backup vehicle than 10 suitcases,

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with riding on 6 days available on set dates.

Departure Dates

2019: Central Colombian Trail - 1 Sept
2019: Coffee Trail - 22 Aug; 3 Nov
2020: Central Colombian Trail - 23 Feb; 21 Jun
2020: Coffee Trail - 5 Jul; 23 Aug

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.

Please note that single rooms are subject to availability.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20198d/7n6double pp1,909
20198d/7n6single supplement389
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp1,909
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6single supplement389
20208d/7n6double pp2,235
2020 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp2,309
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20198d/7n6double pp2,159
20198d/7n6single supplement439
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp2,159
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6single supplement439
20208d/7n6double pp2,525
2020 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp2,609
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20198d/7n6double pp2,425
20198d/7n6single supplement489
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp2,425
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6single supplement489
20208d/7n6double pp2,835
2020 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp2,929
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20198d/7n6double pp23,569
20198d/7n6single supplement4,769
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp23,569
2019 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6single supplement4,769
20208d/7n6double pp27,579
2020 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp28,485
Wildlife

As the ride is mainly in the mountains at about 2000m altitude, there will not be many opportunities to spot wildlife apart from birds.

Other Information

It is possible to have a maximum of 2 non-riders on this ride. They will be able to travel in the back-up vehicle (which carries the luggage) and meet up with the riders at some spots on the trail. The non-riders will be immersed in Colombian daily life; driving through villages, visiting shops with the logistics staff and will often arrive early at the overnight accommodation. Please note that the staff are unable to provide a special tour itinerary for non-riders but are more than happy to take them along with them.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Bogota airport (BOG)
Transfer:
Taxi to the hotel on day one payable locally. Return transfer to Bogota airport included.
Flight Guide:
London (LON) - Bogota (BOG) around £530
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