In Vilcabamba you can do as much or as little as you like, it is all up to you ! Find a hammock somewhere and watch life go by or go crazy doing millions of things


Horse riding is big in Vilcabamba and there is something for all ages and all levels.

Aron Marsh on Wilson's horse Picaflor (paso puro)

Emily 1 with horse in Podocarpus and Emily 2 with Wilson in town

And by the way, riding horses is great but grooming them can be fun too!

Anita grooming Wilson's horses at Caballos Gavilan

Horseback riding is popular in Vilcabamba, due mostly to the quality of local horses and the absolutely stunning natural beauty of the valley. There are rides for all levels: beginner riders will want to try the four-hour ride around the city. This is pretty easy, and four hours isn't long enough to get too sore.

For more advanced riders, there are trips up to Podocarpus Park outside of town.

If you go horseback riding in Vilcabamba, wear long sleeves, sunscreen and a hat. Your guide should bring water, but having a small bottle along isn't a bad idea. Carry as little as possible as when the horse starts to run, any cameras, backpacks, fanny packs, etc. will start to bounce up and down, which is very uncomfortable and irritating. Most outfitters will provide rubber boots for you to use while riding, however, if you have very small or very large feet, you might want to bring your own.

There are several small agencies offering horseback rides in Vilcabamba, just have a look around the main square area and you'll see at least three or four.

Christopher Minister - Source: Internet

Providers of horse riding in Vilcabamba all offer riding from 2 hours upwards. Some have horses that are ‘paso fino’. They have a nice smooth way to trot, which means that you don’t bump up and down in the saddle so much. This is great when you are traveling on long flat trails or on the road. However, these horses are generally not the best in precarious mountain trial as the ‘paso’ trot means that they are not as sturdy on their feet. A paso horse will cost you more than a non paso horse to hire. Most places are run by experienced people who can take beginners to advanced riders. Some have better saddle than others.

Look around when you want to go riding. Ask what type of horses they use, paso or not. Consider the horse trek that you want to do. A non mountain trek would probably be more comfortable on a paso horse for example. Make it very clear when you tell the operator your level of experience. BE CONSERVATIVE on this one. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You don’t want to come off nor does the operator want you to come off! There are some serious, challenging trails around Vilcabamba. This is serious riding country not some manicured, fancy man made trail like we have in western country’s that the horses follow blindly.

Be warned that if you are not an experienced, harden rider and you put yourself on a 4 hour our longer ride you will more than likely come out of it with a very sore bottom and other body parts. Don’t blame the operator or the saddle; blame yourself for putting your poor soft bottom and thighs through torture. If you are not an experienced seasoned runner you wouldn't go on a marathon, would you?? Don’t get me wrong, a good saddle will help with reducing the after riding pain but that is because we “gringos” are a bit soft :-)

One more point to talk about regarding horse treks to the Podocarpus National Park. During my interviews with horse riding businesses, it became apparent that most places don’t take you into the National Park. They take you on a property that ‘borders’ the national park. So it is a little miss leading. To enter the national park, you have to pay and entrance fee and to truly get into the park takes at least a full day’s ride from Vilcabamba. Properties bordering the national park may have similar fauna as the park but I would tend to think that they have not been regenerating as long as the national park has. So if you want to go into the ‘true’ national park, your operator should be buying park passes for you and it’s going to take 3+ days of riding. I know from my research writing this site that there is park warden but I don’t know what the fine is if you go into the park without a pass.

Anita Evans

Caballos Gavilan - horse trekking

Caballos Gavilan is run by Wilson Carpio. We have gone for a number of treks with Wilson, including a long one on our finca in Sacapo where the horses do not know the way. The horses have responded well to the riders requests and been even tempered. Caballos Gavilan also offers horses for sale. A friend of ours who is an experienced rider has purchased horses here and been very happy with them. We have also gone for a 1 hour ride with young children on our horses (ages 3 to 6). My only gripe and I must say it as I’m being honest here is that the saddles aren’t the best (editor's note: reading Anita's article above, it must be that she is a bit "soft" too :-)). We have taken the horses out without the guide for a trek and again they have responded well to the riders requests and been very even tempered.

Address: Just down from the corner of Sucre and Diego Vaca de Vega (opposite from the Hidden Garden)
Cell: 09 0161759

La Tasca Tours

La Tasca is a very small tour operator located just off the main square in Vilcabamba. They specialize in horseback riding tours to Podocarpus Park and offer a few different options. The owner of the agency, René León, is also owner of a very large private reserve that borders Podocarpus. Because of this piece of land, La Tasca has access to parts of Podocarpus that other agencies do not (León stopped allowing other tour operators to use his family’s land after they repeatedly left litter behind). There is a waterfall, known as Los Helechos (“the ferns”) on the land, and on the longer day trip you can go to see it. La Tasca takes excellent care of their horses, giving them proper rest for a few days between trips and keeping them healthy.

Christopher Minister - Source: Internet
Address: Calle Diego de Vega and Sucre
Cell: 08 5562299

Monta Tours

Julio is a local guide who can tell you a lot about the fauna and history of the area. With his wife Beatrice, he runs Monta Tours and offers different options from a few hours to a few days. We took the 2 day tour in the Podocarpus National park with them and it was a fantastic experience. We stayed in a refuge called Solomaco. Nearby (2 hour walk), there is a beautiful waterfall that we went to see in the afternoon of the first day. The food was all prepared for us and it was delicious. We ate by the candlelight, then Julio played card tricks and told us stories. The horses were good and Julio runs the expeditions with a spirit of adventure and fun but also with the maturity and responsibility required to make sure that we all come back in one piece and with no broken bits. The Podocarpus can be quite wet, with slippery trails and low lying branches, so it pays to be careful, watch your head and have a guide who knows what he's doing.

Address: Just down from the corner of Sucre and Diego Vaca de Vega (opposite from the Hidden Garden)
Cell: 09 0208824

Pony Club Vilcabamba

The Pony Club is run by our friend Roman. The Pony Club takes you on tours of Vilcabamba in a horse drawn carriage. Carriage rides range from 20 minutes to 6 and half hours. Rides can be for one to five persons. This is a unique and exciting way to see Vilcabamba and its surrounding areas. It’s a great birthday party event or a very romantic way to propose.  The two of you in a horse drawn carriage riding up the hill to a lookout point over the Vilcabamba at night. Taking in the lights on a warm summers evening. And you pop the question! The carriage is also available for weddings, fiestas, funerals etc.

Address: Call into the Restaurante El Otro Lado (On Bolivar opposite the central park) and ask to speak to Rome. 
09 0468701

Centro Ecuestre Horse riding

Address: Just along from the corner of Bolivar and Diega Vaca de Vega heading
Phone: 2640151

Caballos Vilcabamba (Vilcabamba Horse Riding)

Offer tours from a couple of hours to several days.

Address: Just along from the corner of Sucre and Diega Vaca de Vega heading
Cell: 09 1280849

Holger Horses

Holger Horses offers comfortable saddles. They have a local guide who can tell you about the fauna and history of the area. 

Address: Corner of Valle Sagrado and Diega Vaca de Vega
Cell: 08 2961238