I see myself as an experienced rider and am always amazed with how every riding experience is different and enlightening. Last October’s six-day adventure in Colombia was no exception. We started out with a pre-dawn meeting in Bogotá. My co-riders were from Spain, England and several places in Colombia. By the time the sun came up we were on the plane, en route to Villavicencio, in the Colombian Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains). We did breakfast there, courtesy of our hosts from Gramalote and Valleverde. They took us to the ranch and by the time they were giving us the safety and informational talk, they were barefoot, pants rolled up and ready to go. We had been told not to use boots because wewould be riding in the water. No kidding, after a nice leisurely ride over fields and through forests, we landed in a river.
It was beautiful. We ride hardy, reliable llanero horse, under clear skies, hot sunand cool, clear rivers beneath. The river was our road. The horses were used to that and were not afraid to swim and it was a pleasure to flow with them!
Two days later we were on a plane back to Bogotá and our ride in Ubaté, at 27,500 feet. Ubaté and the Cundinamarca/Boyacá region are ideal for horseback riding for several reasons. The climate is relatively moderate, although it gets chilly in the evening. It is mountainous and there are some gorgeous cliffs and forests to explore. My favorite part is there is so much history.
Spanish conquistadores chose this land to build their haciendas and there are several beautiful houses to stay in.
We also enjoyed living off the land. We had barbequed sausage, corn, beef and chicken courtesy of our Valleverde hosts. Delicious!
Our last leg started at Oiba in Santander. Our host, Julio Pardo of A Caballo por Colombia treated us to two full day rides. He was very open-not for beginners! We loved our ride through the Santander highlands. The weather was nice although it rained both days at 4pm sharp. We got to interact with local campesinos who shared their handicrafts with us. The cotton work in Charalá, Santander was particularly beautiful.
The ladies there have learned their craft from their mothers and grandmothers. This goes back to pre-Columbian times. A wonderful museum shares the story and definitely offers an opportunity to support their cooperative, Corpolienzo. This just shows Fair Trade really makes sense.
I remain convinced there is no better way to get to know a country than from the back of a horse. You ride through towns with amazing animals, sharing our adventures with wonderful people from around the world and you realize you all speak the same language. Colombian travel is hot this year. Colombian horse culture is unique in the world and not to be missed. I read a blog saying, rightly, that Colombians seem to have been born on a horse. It’s a good thing, because I have just shared three unique, thrilling options Colombia offers.