Want to go horseback riding on Ecuador’s coast? I found the perfect spot in Las Tunas, Manabí, a few minutes south of Puerto López. During our two hour ride, we galloped on a beach, crossed a river, watched butterflies on a forest trail, and rode along the top of a hill with a spectacular ocean view.
Finding horses to ride in coastal Ecuador
Finding horses to ride in Ecuador is not difficult. Finding good, healthy, well trained horses to ride in Ecuador is not easy. I rely on Tsafiki Resort to find good horses. They scout area horses and guides so they are always up to date regarding who has the best horses.
On a sunny March morning, my friend and fellow rider, Carol, and I meet at Tsafiki for our scheduled ride. As we finish breakfast, our guide, Eddie, arrives with the horses.
We get acquainted with our horses while explaining to Eddie that we both grew up with horses but have not ridden in many years. He suggests a four hour ride on a mountain trail. I decide I can only do two hours on this day. Carol tries to convince me to change my mind but I know how sore I will be after two hours on a horse.
Chocali, my horse, is strong, gentle and we quickly develop a good relationship. Each of us thinks we are in charge, which works out great.
Horseback riding on the beach
We ride on the beach from Las Tunas to Ayampe. Waves gently hit the sandy beach, providing unrivaled background music.
The sand sometimes looks alive as small crabs rush to move out of the galloping horse’s way. From our elevated position atop the horses, we see many more crabs than when we walk this same beach.
Horseback riding through small villages
Nearing the end of the beach, I see several surfers riding waves off Ayampe, an area known for good surf schools. Just before town, we cross the Ayampe River and turn inland. After leaving Ayampe, we pass a few small villages whose names I do not know. Each had a church and school as well as several homes.
The few people we see call out greetings. Chickens, cats, pigs and donkeys ignore us. A couple of dogs chase us, barking and urging us to leave their territory. Chocali and Carol’s horse, Augustine, keep an eye on the dogs but do not panic. I am sure they have had dogs barking at them since they were foals.
Horseback riding on La Curia Trail
As we enter La Curia Trail, the low canopy of trees above us and slow moving river next to us remind me I forgot to apply mosquito repellent. I hope to make it out with no facial bites. My mosquito allergy turns facial bites into something nasty. Since there is nothing I can do to alter the situation, I complain once then enjoy nature.
We feel fortunate to see a few butterflies since it not butterfly season yet. In a few months, there will be a lot more. Occasionally a hummingbird zips around as well as a few other birds. We marvel at the foliage we never tire of seeing – in particular, orchids symbiotically growing while attached to tree limbs.
Follow the leader
Until La Curia Trail, there had been room for Chocali and Augustine to ride side by side. When we reach the trail, Carol and I learn that both horses want to lead. Whenever there is enough room to pass, the horse in the rear attempts to do just that. The lead horse walks in zig-zag fashion, trying to prevent the pass. Neither horse gives an outward appearance being passed bothers them, they just try to pass at the next opportunity. Carol and I first try to control their tendencies then decide we are entertained by them and let them play their game.
Horseback riding hilltop to ocean
La Curia Trail begins climbing away from the river and up the hill, foliage becoming sparser. Cresting the hill, a spectacular ocean view welcomes us.
We rest for a few minutes to enjoy the vista and take photos before making our way back to the beach. I am pleased that no mosquitoes feasted on my face while in the foliage.
When we arrive at Tsafiki, Carol and I agree that two hours was enough for our first horseback ride in years. We also want to go on the four hour ride to see the other trails in the area.
Photographing the Ride
My camera stayed home in favor of my cell phone. It was fine for taking photos during the trip. I failed at finding a good way to store the phone when I was not using it. Carol offered to toss it in her backpack but I wanted it easily available. My pants back pocket would not work since the phone could fall out or get squished between my behind and the saddle. My front pockets are too shallow.
A different option won – shoving my cell phone down the front of my pants. This might have worked out great if my pants were tight and held the phone in place. My pants were slightly loose. After a bit of galloping, my phone was always uncomfortably wedged in between my legs. I can’t tell you how many times I reached my hand down my pants during this ride but it was a lot. I now have a fanny pack and will try carrying my cell phone or camera there next time. Plan ahead and know how you will carry your camera before you go.
How to book your horseback ride
Tsafiki Cabins has a great relationship with area guides. I recommend scheduling through them. As Carol and I did, go to Tsafiki early and eat a delicious breakfast before your ride. Alternately, enjoy lunch or dinner once you return. Or make it even easier on yourself and simply stay at Tsafiki where you can enjoy the pool and hot tub after your ride.
Learn more about Puerto López here.