This is Your Horse Adventure in the Coffee Axis of Colombia. It’s 9:30 and you are mounted on a Caballo Criollo, or sure-footed mountain horse, deep in the Coffee Axis. The wind is blowing in your hair, and you are surrounded by incredible mountain scenery.
Did you know? Mules are also common, especially for the more difficult trail rides where obstacles like water crossings or deep mud are common.
Your cowboy hat is keeping the sun off your face, and your sleeves are rolled up to the elbow until later today, when a light tropical afternoon rain breaks through the heat, and cools off the temperature. Take a deep breath of that clean mountain air!
All around you men and women are dressed in similar ways, some with light cotton ponchos folded neatly over their shoulders, most with a wide brimmed Sombrero Aguadeño, the cowboy hat of the Coffee Axis. A bottle of guaro is being passed around as a little pre-ride sip of “agua.”
All day we ride, we laugh, and the more challenging the trail, the more animated the riders become. The scenery around us changes from pasture, to forest, to flowered porches, and jungle spaces. The miles sail past as you talk to your new friends, a group of 20+ riders.
Soaring mountains, beautiful forests, and flowers bloom profusely along the borders of farms, fields and the edge of the forests, streams, and waterfalls.
Occasional stops are made to adjust equipment, baños at the occasional Fonda (small tienda/bar), take pictures, and on the bigger rides, a truck will follow with water, snacks and beer/liquor.
One or two horses carry speakers and Ranchera music can be heard along the trail. Some people ride apart from the group, others are in the middle telling stories, jokes, or flirting. There is enough open space for everyone.
You won’t arrive until dusk, or even a bit after dark, so you were careful to bring a couple bottles of water, or gatorade, in order to stay hydrated.
You are experiencing the traditional ride in the country, or CABALGATA ECOLOGICA in the way that Colombian’s traditionally like to ride. Some drink, other’s don’t. Surprisingly enough, accidents are quite rare. People watch out for each other, and if someone needs help, an immediate solution is found.
Your Horse Adventure in the Coffee Axis
Beginners or advanced riders will all find their own action experience, a horse adventure in the coffee axis! From personalized experiences and small groups, to the bigger more traditional rides with local campesinos, or country farmers/cattleman. You can also opt to ride out on private, small group rides if you schedule during the week.
Be sure to reserve your hotel at least 5 days ahead of your visit due to increased demand by travelers, hotel rooms can be scarce if you wait until the last minute, particularly in towns like Aranzazu, Salamina, and Aguadas.
Our top recommendation is Hotel Casa de los Abuelos WA/Cel: +57 311 711 5247 for your next horse adventure in the coffee axis.
Traditional Horse Rides in the Country, or Cabalgata Ecologica
The northern stretch of the Department of Caldas, outside of Manizales, Colombia – is home to the most fervent horse culture of the entire region. Most rides leave from Aranzazu.
These are the descendants of the original Arrieros, or mule teamsters, who ran food, equipment and even people along these mountain trails on the backs of mules and oxen. Silleteros, were another form of transport. A silletero, is a man who carries a chair, and carry’s an elderly or infirm person to their farm, or house, on caminos de herradura, horseshoe trails too small for wagons or cars.
It’s time to live YOUR Horse Adventure in the Coffee Axis!!!
How Does it All Work?
Contact us to make your reservation. +57 312 794 8245
There are two ways to organize your ride.
- Private ride, same day return to Manizales. Short ride, leave at noon, ride out to a farm, eat lunch, return at 5:00 PM, dispatched in taxi for Manizales (we call the taxi company when we are close to arriving). Taxi with 4 people (cupo completo – spaces full) for 23,000 each – more if there are less people. Or a bus, for 17,000 to Manizales.
- Group Ride with Remate, or Afterparty. Leave as early as 9:00 AM or as late as noon, we arrive around 7 or 8:00 PM. Horses are put away, or shipped back to point of origin. Meal is served, then traditional live entertainment. Usually singers and trovadores, a type of singer who studies the crowd and invents funny lyrics about the people in the crowd. Dancing horses, or Paso Fino’s might be exhibited, and beer/liquor/water/soda/gatorade/chips, available. Transport arranged to take everyone back to point of origin.
What do I need to Wear or Bring?
- Broad brimmed hat or ball cap
- Jeans or sturdy pants
- Heeled boots/Hiking boots/close toed shoes/Yes, you can get away with a 2 or 3 inch heel if you really want to look sexy.
- Long sleeved button up shirt preferable – layer on, layer off.
- Poncho, light jacket, or scarf for evening chill
- Plastic bag for camera/cellphone in case of rain
- Rain poncho
- Water or gatorade
- Beer, wine or liquor (if desired)
- A positive, easy going attitude
Is it dangerous?
Weird question. Only if you make dangerous decisions.
You are responsible for your own actions. Do not consume alcohol in excess if you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced rider. Know your limits. Notify us immediately if you are uncomfortable with the horse you are riding.
The horses are well-trained and calm, but willing to do whatever you ask them to do during your horse adventure in the coffee axis. The calmer you ride, the calmer your horse will be. If you run too much, the horse can get hyped up and become a behavioral problem. Try to keep space between you and other horses. Mules tend to kick, give them a wide berth.
An old American saying says: “God protects children and idiots.” If you truly are a beginner rider, often your horse will sense it. Because he is a noble animal by nature, he will protect beginners and children. If you get on a horse and try to “cowboy” him, then your experience might intensify more than the energy you are willing to invest.
Is weather an issue?
Not really. During rainy months we will ride on unpaved roads instead of horseshoe trails. Short periods of rain is common on most rides in the north of Caldas. Always bring rain gear and/or a poncho.
Evenings can get chilly, which is why long sleeved shirts are nice so you can roll down the sleeves, or protect your neck with a scarf or poncho. A light jacket is usually enough.
Note: If we are riding to/from Marulanda, or San Felix then a winter coat or heavy wool poncho may be advised. Rain gear always advised.
How Much Does it Cost to Ride?
Horse rental is between 175k – 200,000 COP depending on if we are going/coming back, or going only one way from one pueblo to another. The extra cost will include shipping the horses, and transport for riders.
Note: Bigger riders require bigger horses, which are more expensive to feed 200,000 – 250,000 for a Percheron/Quarter horse type for big/tall people. Children do not get discounts – unless they ride double with you. Riding double may not be comfortable for older children over the age of 9 or 10, and is not recommended for babies under one year.
Food can vary depending on the afterparty. A simple lunch will start at 13,000 COP paid to a local campesino to cook and serve us at their farm. The bigger horse adventure in the Coffee Axis will always have a big meal waiting for us at the end and might offer refreshments along the route, starting at 20,000+ COP or more, this usually covers live entertainment.
If you are restless and ready for an adventure, the type of experience that will make you feel alive – then this is it. Ride the mountains with us as we show you a different perspective, meet new people, and learn about a different segment of coffee region culture.
To stay up to date on new rides and events, be sure to follow us on Facebook at the Coffee Axis Travel page.
Rides go out 2 to 3 times every week, almost always with a few locals who come along for the fun and adventure. We will do everything we can to ensure your safety and well-being.
And, if you are a beginner – even more reason to try something new, because once you catch this bug, your Colombian experience will rise to a whole new level. As an added benefit, you will receive copies of the photos we take during the ride – so you can show your friends and family back home the best life you are living here in the Coffee Axis!
Contact us via WhatsApp or by email for more information: +57 312 794 8245 or firstname.lastname@example.org