Itinerary Discover Oaxaca Valley & Foothills Ride

Wonderful way to explore Oaxaca

Day 1

Riding out from Rancho Pitaya

Arrive at Rancho Pitaya in the late afternoon to early evening by pre-arranged transport from the airport or a hotel.  It’s a short drive to the ranch located 10 miles ( 15 km.) from the city center or 14 miles from the Oaxaca’s airport. The ranch is nestled on the edge of the charming cheese-making village of Rojas de Cuauhtemoc. Settle into one of the three individually decorated guest rooms, have a cool drink and soak up the vistas of the cacti-studded rock face that paints a backdrop to the ranch. Meet Mary Jane, co-owner of the ranch and along with her son Gabriel, your guide for the week. If your arrival is late afternoon there’s time for a horse trek into the rare biosphere that borders the ranch.  Enjoy a fresh made Margarita, then savor Oaxaca’s world famous cuisine for dinner.

Day 2

After a freshly prepared breakfast and a short demo on our style of riding, mount your horse and head out from the ranch and on to trails lined with towering organ cacti & weathered mesquites. Within minutes the ride ascends to a hidden ecosystem rich in massive columnar cacti and old growth Elephant-foot yucas. From a high lookout point, take a break in the shade and enjoy the big-sky views north to the Sierra Juarez. As the ride progresses westward micro-ecosystems come and go, home to rare agaves, ferns and cacti that live side by side. This ride exemplified the amazing biodiversity Oaxaca is world-famous for.

View from the Dining Terrace

For lunch we ride into the town of El Tule, home of a 2,000 year old cypress tree, one of the largest and oldest trees on earth. El Tule is famous for its local eateries and while the horses doze in the shade, riders sample local delicacies. After lunch, stroll the quaint plaza, shop at the craft stores and, of course,  see the tree. To finish this day’s ride enjoy a brisk canter along quiet farm lanes as the ride turns south and back towards the ranch. Sunset cocktails on the terrace before the ranch’s local cook prepares a dinner of local specialties.

Vistas as far as the eye can see

Day 3

Today’s ride goes from the valley into the foothills of the Sierra Juarez, following old trails around the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle. Riders and horses take a short drive to the home of village weavers where they mount up and ride out. Ride past a fascinating ceremonial site before ascending a mountain pass, its trails lined with live agave fencing. Pass pack donkeys laden with firewood, grazing goats or locals washing their weaving yarn in the streams. Ride into the foothills where the higher altitude makes way for a well-preserved oak forest rich in tree bromeliads and ferns. Ancient terraces texture the hillsides and low fieldstone walls ring adobe homes that dot the slopes.

Visit fascinating places on horseback.

The ride ends with a freshly prepared lunch at the home of talented Zapotec rug weavers, followed by a weaving and yarn dyeing demonstration and time to shop for a beautiful hand-woven wool rug. Return to the ranch to relax or have a massage.  Sample the special mezcal cocktail we invented at the ranch followed by dinner featuring local specialties.

Day 4

Take a break from the saddle on this non-ride day. Spend the day in Oaxaca, a UNESCO world heritage city or relax at the ranch, indulge in a massage or take a cooking class with excellent local cooks. All meals are served at the ranch but optional.

Ride past local "campesinos" still practicing age-old farming methods

Day 5

This ride makes a sweeping loop far out into the hidden worlds of the valley. From the ranch we ride past pecan orchards, fields of flowers and a complex system of irrigation canals that make this area the valley’s most productive farmland. Neat garlic and onion fields line tranquil back roads that lead to the quiet native village of Tlacochahuaya. Dismount your horse to visit its famous 16th century Dominican church. Recently-evangelized Indians painted the delightful walls and ceiling, and the cheerful style reflects their naturalistic approach to religion.

Ride by a Timeless Way of Life

Have a snack and cold drink before mounting up for the second half of the journey that explores ancient trails that wind past hills richly forested with old-growth candelabra and nopal cacti. Ride across 19thcentury stone bridges that connect ancient cart trails in a hidden wetland, home to great blue herons and Cara-cara falcons. Trails lined with wild cane lead to the village of Santa Cruz Papalutla where artisans work the split cane into sturdy baskets. The flat smooth footing is idea for trots or canters as the ride curves north.

Ride over Camino Reales Traversed for Hundreds of Years

Turning into the ranch ice cold beer & limeade are waiting at the stables.  Time to relax before sunset cocktails. Option to join an informal cooking class and learn how to make a traditional mole, the main course for this night’s dinner.

Day 6

After a hot breakfast at the ranch, horses and riders load up for a 30 minute drive east to the ex-hacienda of San Jose Soriano. Take a look at the restoration of its chapel before riding out with the imposing mesa of Yagul to the south and the majestic Sierra Juarez to the north.

On the top of the Eastern Mesa looking to the Sierra Juarez

Ancient farm lanes, great for extended trots and canters, turn into trails leading into true backcountry rich in rare palmillo yuca trees and candelabra cacti hundreds of years old. Ride among goat herds and grazing Zebu cattle. Your experienced trekking horse deftly ascends the rocky trails that open onto otherworldly plateaus surrounded by sweeping views of the broad valley and up into the Sierra Juarez.

Relax over a picnic lunch on the edge of a shady meadow. It was in this area that civilization emerged in the Americas about 10,000 years ago. Ride past rare agaves, fresh water springs and old, old terraced farmlands.

Smooth farming lanes lend themselves for a long easy canter back to the hacienda where ice cold refreshments are waiting. On the drive back to the ranch we’ll stop to a see the artisan production of mescal and to sample this distilled liquor Oaxaca is famous for.

Traditional Farming the Still Works!!!!

Day 7

Ride to native Zapotec village rich in traditions

This ride is rich in history. Follow pre-Hispanic trading trails, ride though a ancient Zapotec village with more turkeys and donkeys than people, and finish the ride at the ex-hacienda of San Antonio Buenavista. Explore this once-working hacienda now undergoing extensive restoration.

Follow an ancient trading trail into oak forests and tree bromeliads. At the top of the pass, views open to the west into the Ocotlan valley and across to Monte Alban. Cross wide-open planes, follow a lush streambed to a high pass where the gaze travels east 50 kms. to the distinctive Nueve Puntos mountain. Criss-cross arroyos, let the horses drink from crystalline springs and picnic by the banks of the hacienda’s old dam. As the ride ends pass placid Zebu cattle and herds of goats that graze among massive candelabra cacti and aromatic copal trees.

Transport and cool refreshments will be waiting at the hacienda before the picturesque drive north to Rancho Pitaya.

Experience on Horseback the Authentic, Undiscovered Oaxaca

Take a siesta in a hammock, enjoy your last sunset margaritas before a special farewell dinner.

Day 8

After a freshly prepared breakfast depart with pre-arranged transport for the city or airport.

NOTE: The above is only a suggested itinerary. There are endless trails, routes and destinations, some more appropriate from one season to the next.

Fall Wildflowers