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Horseback Riding, Colombian Style

Colombians are crazy for horses.  I realized this when I walked into a bar in Itagui, a city South of Medellin, and saw framed photos of horses hanging from the walls.  Each photo had a month and year next to it, as if they were Playboy centerfolds.

I mean crazy in a good way. Like the American cowboys, and gauchos of Argentina, the Colombians in rural parts of the country rely on horses for transportation, and to get their work done.

As tourism grows, so to do the opportunities for visitors to saddle up and go for a ride.  And having gone on two rides so far myself, as well as having attended La Cabalgata, I can assure you it can be a lot of fun.

Valle de Cocora

My first experience horseback riding in Colombia wasn't even my idea. I left Salento in a share jeep with a bunch of other travelers, en route to Valle de Cocora to hike amongst the wax palms.

By the time we arrived, all the travelers had bonded, and we all decided to go horseback riding in Valle de Cocora instead of walking the whole trail.  The cost was about $10 for 3-4 hours with the horses, and this included a guide who accompanied us the whole way.

This turned out to be an excellent idea, as we'd soon find the trail was filled with thick, heavy mud.  It was a lot faster, and easier, to have the horses do the walking.

I'd ridden horses a few times before; I wasn't a complete novice.  But, I also wasn't prepared to be walking through fast-moving streams, with water levels that came up to the bottom of my shoes (in the stirrups).

I owe my life to Canario, the horse I was riding, as he didn't seem phased by the experience. I'm sure he was use to it, which again, I appreciated.

After a few hours, we had to leave the horses and walk the rest of the way out of the valley. And then, of course, it started to rain. By the time I got out, I was a soaking wet, muddy mess.  But it was worth it to see the tall wax palms dotted throughout the misty valley.

La Cueva del Esplendor

Jardin is a cute puebo in Antioquia, about 3 1/2 hours from Medellin (by bus). Horseback riding in Jardin is a popular activity, and a bit tamer than trips into the Cocora Valley.

Instead of going to see wax palms, the typical ride leaves the town below, and takes riders up into the surrounding mountains to see La Cueva del Esplendor. This cave has a waterfall running through the top of it, and is truly one of a kind.

During our ride up to the cave, which lasted little longer than an hour, we had outstanding views of Jardin, and the surrounding mountains.  I felt like a paisa cowboy up there, and it's an experience I'll never forget.

The shorter ride (one hour to the cave, and one hour back) is perfect for beginners, and those who want to avoid getting saddle sore.  Half day trips can be arranged through your hostel or hotel in town.

These are just a small sampling of the horseback riding opportunities that exist.

Have you been riding in Colombia? Leave a comment and let us know where.

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Comments

Guest
Brice Thursday, 17 May 2012

I'm looking forward to riding my "iron horse" (bicycle) through the Coffee Zone next week! I'll be writing daily about the experience here: www.travelingtocolombia.com.

David Lee
David Lee
David Lee is the Editor in Chief of MedellinLiving.com and GoBackpacking.com.
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David Lee Sunday, 20 May 2012

Excellent, well if you haven't already, I recommend jumping off the bike for a ride through Valle de Cocora.

Guest
Brice Tuesday, 05 June 2012

Dave, I went for a ride on a non-iron horse while in the Cocora Valley. Wow! What an amazing place! Here was my account of the experience: http://travelingtocolombia.com/cocora-valley-extreme-horseback-edition/

Guest
Smart Mercado Sunday, 14 October 2012

Yes!!! I have been ridding horse in Colombia for several times. In Bogota and Paipa. It's really great!

Guest
Smiley Tuesday, 24 September 2013

How much does horseback riding generally cost in Colombia?

Are there any good multi-day trips that people can recommend - or the contact of a good horse handler that could accommodate?

Guest
David Lee Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hi Smiely,

Horseback riding is generally quite cheap in Colombia, but I can't recall exact costs. I haven't heard about any multi-day horseback riding trips, but I'm sure it's possible.

Guest
j Saturday, 19 April 2014

Smiley,
Check out Hotel Paso Fino outside of Cartagena. Ask them and them might be able to set you up with a multi day tour.. it would probably cost a decent amount as it would be private.
That is. if you have not already had your trip :)

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Guest Thursday, 31 July 2014

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