An authentic horseback trail ride through the Eastern Highlands of Colombia exploring one of the most appealing equestrian cultures in the world. On average, horseback riders spend up to six hours a day in the saddle following centuries old rolling equestrian trails through the mountain landscapes of the Cordillera Oriental. This horseback adventure crosses the desert of La Candelaria, through the province Cundinamara, to the tropical province of Santander. Ride off-the-beaten-track, discovering hidden places and meeting friendly locals. Visitors 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”

Stay in traditional haciendas, guest houses,hotels, and even one night in a monastery. The horses are Colombian criollos. Colombians love horses, and fairs, festivals and horse parades are common all over the country. A 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. An unforgettable horseback riding trail perfect for intermediate and advanced riders.

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
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Central Colombian Trail Itinerary:
Day 1

Bogota – Cucunúba
9am: Meet at the hotel in Bogota. We advise arriving in Bogota the day before and stay overnight in a local hotel (please enquire if you would like this booked for you). Road transfer to the colonial village of Cucunúba, 75km from Bogotá, with stops at a local saddlery to learn more about Colombian tack.  Stop for lunch in a local restaurant followed by a short drive to La Montesa, a renowned breeding farm of Colombian Paso Fino Horses and the chance to ride these pureblood horses and experience why they say the Paso Fino is the smoothest horse in the world! Drive to Cucunúba for overnight and dinner at the Posada de Don Pedro' (or similar)

Day 2
Cucunúba - Hacienda La Casona 34 Km (approx. 6h riding)
After breakfast the riders will meet and be matched with their horses, prepare equipment, saddle up and ride through the village before immediately climbing in the Juaitoque Natural Reserve, reaching an altitude of 3200m above sea level. Follow traditional bridal paths through the Andino moorlands. In the afternoon, descend through ' el camino de la punta de la peña' with a view of Palacio lagoon. Continue to the Hacienda La Casona for dinner and overnight.

Day 3
Hacienda La Cabaña - Sutatausa -  – Hacienda La Cabaña. 30 Km (approx. 5h riding)
The ride starts at 9am, after breakfast. Start by crossing narrow paths in the forest, climbing and descending until reaching the village of Sutatausa to visit the cathedral and learn some of the history of the area. Continue the ride into the mountains around the Hato Dam for lunch. Head back to the Hacienda La Cabaña to arrive for dinner and overnight.

Day 4
Hacienda La Cabaña – Punta de Vega -  Hacienda Potosi. 34 Km (approx. 6hr riding)
After breakfast, saddle horses and the ride through the green fields of Cundinamacara, the biggest dairy area in the country. Arrive at the old colonial farm, Punta de Vega, for lunch. After a siesta, continue riding to the Hacienda Potosi, arriving at approx 5pm. There will probably be a chance to see Marta's (the host) draft horses. Dinner and overnight.

Day 5
Hacienda Potosi - Rquira Silveste. 38 km (approx. 8h riding)
After breakfast, saddle the horses and head out at around 8am through the meadows. There will be a chance for canters along the route to Dona Patriicia's, Hacienda Ticha, a historical building where the group stop for lunch. Ride through woods in the afternoon with the Fúquene lagoon in the background. The route leaves the province of Cundinamaraca and crosses into Boyacá with its semi-desert plains of Raquira. Spend the night at the Raquirq Silvestre farmhouse for dinner and a performance from local folk musicians.

Day 6
Raquirq Silvestre - Monasterio de la Candelaria. 25 Km (approx. 5h riding)
Breakfast and saddle the horses ready to leave by 10:30am. Descending the semi-desert mountains, the colourful town of Raquira can be seen in the distance, well known for its pottery and handcrafts. Explore, stroll the streets and enjoy the sights and sounds before meeting for a cold beer and lunch. Continue riding in the afternoon until reaching the Candelaria monastery, founded in 1604 and now owned by the Agustinos community. This is the accommodation for the evening and where the group enjoy dinner.

Day 7
Monasterio de la Candelaria – Villa de Leyva. 35km (approx. 7h riding)
Breakfast and saddle-up the horses ready to leave by 8:00am. An hours ride from the monastery the route enters the inhospitable desert, la Candelaria, where rocky bridle paths and strong winds will guide the way. Visit the Patio de Brujas, a magic place of the indigenous witches. In the late afternoon the group reach one of Colombia's most beautiful cities and national monuments, Villa de Leyva, founded in 1572. Accommodation is in a hotel in the main square, The late afternoon is free to relax and explore before a final dinner.

Day 8
Villa de Leyva - Bogota
After breakfast, riders will be transferred by private bus to Bogotá airport (4 hours approx.) for the departing flights.

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.

Coffee Trail Itinerary:
Day 1 : Armenia – Hacienda El Balcón

Meet in Armenia at the Mocawa hotel at 9 a.m. Visit a saddlery. Visit the arrieros show in Parque de los arrieros. Arrival at Hacienda El Balcón (or similar) in Buena Vista for a coffee tasting. Welcome and accommodation at Hacienda. Dinner.

Day 2 :  Hacienda El Balcón - Córdoba (28km)
After the assignment of horses and equipment, the ride starts out along the coffee route. Lunch in the village of Pijao before riding the tracks to Cordoba, the coffee village par excellence where the group will be shown the coffee production process from cultivation to tasting.

Day 3 :  Córdoba Radial Route
Spend the day riding among coffee plantations to the best viewpoint of the entire Quindio. Spend the night in the same hotel in Córdoba.

Day 4 :  Córdoba - Hacienda Hotel La Joya (25km)
After breakfast the ride continues through tropical rolling hills and coffee plantations, witnessing the biodiversity of the mountains which can sometimes even be covered in snow. Arrive at the comfortable Posada El Edén Country (or similar) for dinner and to spend the night.

Day 5 :  Hacienda Hotel La Joya - Hacienda La Paloma. (28km)
Today's ride shows a different landscape as it heads to 'hill the pensil' and descends through the tropical forest until arriving at the Paloma farm (or similar) in the town of Calarca. Enjoy a picnic by the river in the middle of the coffee plantations.

Day 6 :  Hacienda La Paloma - Salento (30 km)
Arriving in Salento is one of the high points of the trip. This beautiful village is situated between mountains and is the oldest of the region and is steeped in tradition, history and wonderful cuisine.

Day 7 :  Valle del Cocora 
Today the group can visit the national tree of Colombia, La Palma de Cera, in the Valle del Cocora considered one of the most important areas in the country and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Day 8 : Salento – Armenia
After breakfast transfer to the airport of Armenia. (about 1,1/2hrs drive) 
Flight to Bogota  and connection to Europa/Americas.

It is strongly recommend arriving the night before he ride so as to meet the guides at 9am. Please advise if you would like us to make a hotel booking for you.

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 (USD 65 - 50 Euro/night) 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 are spent in 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 other bedrooms with up to 4 beds.



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 like 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 by Mexico. Some traditional dishes include patacones (fried green plantains), sancocho de gallina (chicken soup with root vegetables), and ajiaco (potato and corn soup), pandebono, arepas (corn cakes), aborrajados (fried sweet plantains with cheese), torta de choclo, empanadas and almojábanas. The meals on the trail are inspired by local and seasonal dishes, 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) €110 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) €65 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 within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Passport and Visa requirements can change regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

All travellers will be required to show an onward or return ticket valid within the 90 day period allowed for their entry into Colombia as a visitor.

Between 24 hours and 1 hour before departure, you must fill out the ‘Check-Mig’ form, available on the Migración Colombia website. You will receive a confirmation email that you will need to present upon arrival in Colombia.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/colombia

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Colombia.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/colombia

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

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Health authorities have classified Colombia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

Dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever are present throughout the country, although the coastal and southern states with lower altitudes are the most affected, especially during or shortly after the rainy season between April and November. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Colombia.

Tap water is safe to drink only in Bogota. You should drink only bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Colombia and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

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.

Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

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.

In case of illness or an accident, there are good hospitals and doctors nearby.

Electricity

In Colombia the supply voltage is 110V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly

Mobile, WiFi and charging

•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 recommended you 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

2024: Central Colombian Trail: 17 Jan; 3 Apr; 13 Jul; 1 Dec.
2024: Coffee Trail: 5 May; 9 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 £
20248d/7n6double pp2,725
2024 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp3,629
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20248d/7n6double pp3,179
2024 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp4,235
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20248d/7n6double pp3,505
2024 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp4,665
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20248d/7n6double pp37,105
2024 - Coffee Trail Ride 8d/7n6double pp49,409
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) from £580pp return
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