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Villa de Leyva map pic
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Colombia views 2
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Wow look at that
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Church Day 6
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Discover Villa de Leyva, one of the most beautiful and well known heritage towns in Colombia and a jewel of colonial architecture on this horseback vacation. It forms a part of the network of heritage towns of Colombia and has been nominated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Expect incredible scenery, colonial architecture, and fit, forward-going horses on this beautiful horseback riding trail for intermediate and advanced riders, staying in authentic, rural accommodation.  

This 8-day horseback trail leads from the northwest of the Cundinamarca area, known for its natural ponds and astonishing mountains, then heads to Boyacá through centenary oak woods and breathtaking views. Cross the La Candelaria desert to finally arrive in Villa de Leyva. The climate changes gradually from cold to mild. This equestrian vacation has a faster pace, approximately 40% walking, 30% trotting and 30% cantering and the route has been used many times for endurance rides.

Our routes are varied and take riders through jungles filled with a huge biodiversity of plants and animals (including howler monkeys!), through valleys with fresh mountain rivers, and into quaint Colombian towns well off the beaten path.

At the end of each day the group stay in beautiful haciendas surrounded by nature, or in authentic farm accomodation (depending on the tour), while the horses relax in the grounds. 

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8 Day / 7 Night / 5 Day Riding Itinerary:

Day 1
Arrival in Bogotá, Transfer to Macheta: Transfer Airport / Hotel. Check into hotel and overnight (no meals included).

Day 2
Sisga Dam – Cucunubá: Horses and guides await riders near the beautiful Sisga Dam, 1 hour from Bogotá. Start the riding tour through the valley of the Sisga River until it flows into the Bogotá River, whose crystal waters are full of life. Take a mountain trail on the way to Suesca Lake, from where riders can appreciate the northern side of the Bogotá Savanna with the legendary Tominé Reservoir in the background. After crossing the Cajones Mountain at 3200m, descend to the beautiful Suesca Lake with its fascinating old railway station which was used until mid-1900. Continue to Cucunubá, a beautiful colonial town well-known for its handmade virgin wool fabrics and clothes, located in a corner of the Ubaté Valley. This is where riders will spend the night at a cozy inn while the horses rest and are fed.

Day 3
Cucunubá – Guachetá: From Cucunubá, take the road to Guachetá, admiring the beautiful natural lakes of Cucunubá and Fúquene, through paths that cross artisanal coal mines and dairy farms in the Ubaté Valley, arriving in the afternoon at a beautiful private Hacienda from the 1800s, full of history and just restored.

Day 4
Guachetá – Monastery of La Candelaria: After breakfast, proceed to Ráquira and the Monastery of La Candelaria to spend the night. The route leads through native oak tree forests that are hundreds of years old. With the Desert of La Candelaria within sight, there are many clay ceramic handicraft workshops for which the Ráquira region is famous. Arrive at the beautiful Monastery of La Candelaria, the first to be established in the Americas by the Augustinian monks. It was founded by Father Mateo Delgado in 1604, on the banks of the Gacheneca River, where he started a community by bringing together the hermits that lived scattered in caves in the surrounding area. Today, the convent houses the novitiate of the Augustinian monks, is used for spiritual retreats, and also provides lodging for tourists.

Day 5
Monastery of La Candelaria – Villa de Leyva: After leaving the monastery, cross the Desert of La Candelaria on the way to the Valley of Villa de Leyva. Ride along the hills surrounding this picturesque town, founded in 1572 by order of Don Andres Diaz Venero de Leyva, first President of the New Kingdom of Granada, with the main purpose of becoming the supplier of foodstuffs for the conquistador armies stationed in Moniquirá and Tunja. In the afternoon arrive at a farm in the outskirts of town and proceed to Villa de Leyva to enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many excellent restaurants that are available there.

Day 6 
Villa de Leyva: Ride heading north of Villa de Leyva enjoying the beautiful landscape and weather of this área and stop for a picnic beside one of the many creeks crossing this region. In the afternoon after a shower and something to drink at the hotel, head to Villa de Leyva for a delicious meal in one of the many excellent restaurants that are available there.

Day 7
City Tour in Villa de Leyva – Bogotá: Visit the main square in the center of the Villa, considered the biggest square of Colombia. It is the most important attraction in the town along with the Church located there. The city tour includes the visit to the 'Casa del Cabildo', a historical relic located next to the Principal Square, the 'Casa de Nariño', house where Antonio Nariño died in 1823. The house is a museum now and contains interesting material from the colonial time and the independence fight. Finally, visit the 'Claustro de San Agustín', the first church of the town and headquarters of the Humboldt Institute. Return to Bogota in the afternoon and spend the night in a comfortable hotel (dinner not included).

Day 8
Bogotá Transfer Hotel / Airport: Departure

 

9 Day / 8 Night / 6 Day Riding Itinerary:

Day 1
Arrival in Bogotá: Transfer Airport / Hotel. Check into hotel and overnight (no meals included).

Day 2
Sisga Dam – Sisaga Lake: Horses and guides await riders near the beautiful Sisga Dam, 1 hour from Bogotá. Start the riding tour through the valley of the Sisga River until it flows into the Bogotá River. Take a mountain trail on the way to Suesca Lake, from where riders can see the northern side of the Bogotá Savanna and theTominé Reservoir in the background. After crossing the Cajones Mountain (3200m), descend to the beautiful Suesca Lake and reach the glamping lodge for lunch and overnight.

Day 3
Suesca Lake - Cuncunubá: Circle the lake on the way to Cuncunubá, passing the old railway station, last used in the 1950s. Arrive in Cuncunubá in the early afternoon, a historic Colonial town known for its wool weaving and clothing. The overnight for riders and horses is a cozy inn situated in the corner of the Ubaté valley.

Day 4
Cuncunubá - Guachetá (Fuquene Lake): From Cuncunubá, the route follows the road to Guachetá with views of the Cuncunubá and Fuquene Lakes. Ride along path through the artisanal coal mines, arriving in the afternoon at a comfortable hostel en route to San Miguel.

Day 5
Guachetá - Ráquira: After breakfast, head to Ráquira and the Monestary of La Candelaria, the overnight stop. En route, the trail passes ancient Oak forests, with the Desert of La Candalaria within sight. The area is known for ceramic workshops. The Monastary as founded in 1604 on the banks of the Gachenca River as a community for the hermits that lives in the surrounding caves. It is now used for spiritual retreats and accommodation for travellers.

Day 6
Monastery of La Candelaria – Villa de Leyva: After leaving the monastery, cross the Desert of La Candelaria on the way to the Valley of Villa de Leyva. Ride along the hills surrounding this beautiful town, founded in 1572 by the first President of the New Kingdom of Granada, with the main purpose of becoming the supplier of foodstuffs for the conquistador armies stationed in Moniquirá and Tunja. In the afternoon arrive at a farm in the outskirts of town and proceed to Villa de Leyva to enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many excellent restaurants that are available there.

Day 7
Villa de Leyva: Ride heading north of Villa de Leyva enjoying the beautiful landscape and weather of this area and have a picnic beside one of the many creeks crossing this region. In the afternoon after freshening up, and refreshments at the hotel, head to Villa de Leyva for a delicious meal in one of the many excellent restaurants that are available there.

Day 8
City Tour in Villa de Leyva – Bogotá: Visit the main square in the center of the Villa, considerded the biggest square of Colombia. It is the most important attraction in the town along with the Church located there. The city tour includes the visit to the 'Casa del Cabildo', a historical relic located next to the Principal Square, the 'Casa de Nariño', house where Antonio Nariño died in 1823. The house is a museum now and contains interesting material from the colonial time and the independence fight. Finally, visit the 'Claustro de San Agustín', the first church of the town and headquarters of the Humboldt Institute. Return to Bogota in the afternoon and spend the night in a comfortable hotel (dinner not included).

Day 9
Bogotá Transfer Hotel / Airport: Departure after breakfast

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

There are 16 horses available for riding, ranging in height from 14hh-15.2hh. All the horses have some Colombian Criollo in their blood, even the Anglo Arabs are used in 80 and 120km endurance rides. Anglo Arabs crossed with Colombian Criollos makes them particularly suitable for several day, long distance rides. English tack is used although there are also some trail saddles. Some of the terrain is tough and includes river crossings, riders should also be confident at negotiating steep ascents and descents. There are opportunities to trot and canter but the pace is not overly fast.



Guides are professional and multilingual (fluent in English and Spanish) and are equipped with mobile phones, 2 ways radios and satellite tracker so they can call for assistance if needed. Groups comprise a minimum of 2 riders and maximum of 12 riders.


Rider requirements

This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders who are confident at all paces, over tough terrain (including mountainous and river crossings), and expect long hours of riding. There are 5 days on horseback with between 6-9 hours riding per day. There are some places on the ride where you will need to dismount and lead your horse (a maximum of 2km during the whole ride). A total of 150km on horseback. Riders mustn't exceed the weight limit of 85kg.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Nights will be spend in authentic, clean and comfortable 3* and 4* hotels and lodges with private bathrooms and good food, but do not expect luxuries such as air conditioning during the ride. The trail travels through areas of the country, with little tourism, although you can expect plenty of colonial architecture, historical heritage, diverse landscapes and wonderful people. 



Plentiful home-cooked meals are provided on some days, giving a taste of Colombia's traditional cuisine. Other days you will eat in a local restaurant. Some of the most common ingredients are beef, fish, chicken, potatoes, rice, plantains, tropical fruits, corn cakes, vegetables. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are all included but wine and beer are not although you will be able to purchase these separately when dining in a restaurant.



 


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 mountainous territory with altitudes between 1000m and 5000m. It is hot and humid all year around at the coast (Caribbean and Pacific) and in all low lands. The rainy season is between April and August and October and November. During the trail ride you will be riding in the Cordillera Oriental within the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá on an altitude between 2.000m and 2500m where temperature is about 20C during the day and about 15 C at night all year round. The last 2 days of the trail ride will be at a lower region in Boyacá where temperatures go up to about 23C during the day and about 17C 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)

There are no vaccinations required and there is no malaria in this part of Colombia.

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

- Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384 (One can be provided, but we recommend you bring your own)
- Gloves
- Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers
- Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
- Chaps
- Comfortable clothing
- Warm sweater and jacket
- 4 or 5 T-shirts and 2 shirts with long sleeves
- A second pair of shoes for the evening
- Hat (a nice Colombian hat can be bought on location)
- One towel
- Swimsuit
- Sunscreen
- Lip sunscreen
- Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent
- Camera, spare Batteries/Chargers - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
- Head torch
- Valid international passport
- Travel Insurance
- Pocket money (you can change EUR/£/USD in the airport)

* It is recommended 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,

Provided by hosts
Saddlebags
Refillable Water Bottle

Programmes

8d / 7n programme with 5 riding days OR 9d / 8n programme with 6 riding days. Available on set dates.

Departure Dates

2024: 7 Night Ride: 23 Feb; 12 Apr; 1 June; 26 Jul; 1, 27 Sep; 1 Nov
2025: 19 Apr; 28 Jun; 26 Jul; 4 Oct

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 £
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5double pp1,689
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 4-7 riders309
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 2-3 riders615
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5double pp2,035
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 4-7 riders369
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 2-3 riders739
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5double pp2,285
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 4-7 riders415
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 2-3 riders835
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5double pp23,729
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 4-7 riders4,315
2024 5 riding day8d/7n5small group supplement 2-3 riders8,629
Recommended Reading

We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and 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.



100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The defining novel of magical realism, this is a family chronicle revolving around an imaginary village. The haunting strangeness of the Colombian interior, as it must have been perceived by the first Spaniards, is beautifully conveyed in the course of a journey in which the village's early settlers encounter a Spanish galleon mysteriously stranded in the middle of a jungle. The rest of the book develops into what can be interpreted as a poetic history of Colombia; a timeless classic.

La Vorágine” (The Vortex)  by José Eustasio Rivera, a Colombian classic of the early 20th century, telling the story of a couple trying to escape Bogota´s society to live in the Eastern plains and Amazon forest during the rubber fever. There are translations of this novel in English, German, French and Russian.

The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found   A young Englishman who travelled in Colombia, 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.



For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit  www.thelongridersguild.com   

Also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Bogotá Airport (BOG)
Transfer:
Return transfer to Bogotá airport included.
Flight Guide:
London (LON) - Bogotá (BOG) from £540 pp return
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