Living memorable days
By: Caridad Vela
El Porvenir is a ranch that has been blessed by the natural beauty of its surroundings. Now, it is also the closest safe area to observe the Cotopaxi volcano at a time when it´s regularly expelling clouds of steam and ash in the midst of a pre-eruption phase. This is a unique privilege for El Porvenir´s guests who can witness, from first row seats, an event that takes place once a century. The ranch´s safety has been certified by the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador´s National Polytechnic University, the institution in charge of monitoring the volcano. Clearly marked evacuation routes are not at risk from any possible eruption.
The activity list for guests has been redesigned to ensure complete safety at all times, strictly limited to areas that have been officially designated as risk free. Those activities include hiking, horseback riding and bicycling along mountain paths and overlooks facing the volcano. Also, a trip to the Guardianes del Cotopaxi (Cotopaxi´s Protectors) site where huge wooden figures stand, representing the guardians who protect the spirits that inhabit those mountains. Closer to the lodge, guests can enjoy cooking lessons for traditional local dishes, handicraft workshops and, for horse fans, a riding school including lessons on how to saddle and how to use a lasso.
El Porvenir is also the perfect base camp for longer activities. Among them, multi-day cavalcades over the highlands, including open country rides. There are several mountain biking routes that were recognized by Men´s Journal USA in 2013 as one of the best adventures in the world. Mountain climbers can take advantage of high altitude adaptation programs. Climbing skills can be learned at the Cotopaxi High Ropes School that offers programs with twelve challenges for adults and eight for youngsters. Runners and other athletes can improve their competition training with high altitude coaches. Special tours are available for those interested in conservation, sustainable ranching and ecotourism. All of the above with top quality instructors and guides.
The cavalcades are quite different from the usual group outings. The horses are raised and tamed on the ranch. The outfits used are what traditional local chagras (“cowboys”) wear, ponchos to deflect the cold mountain wind, leather chaps to protect the legs. The most attractive feature is that the guide is an authentic chagra, well versed in local folklore, medicinal herbs and the daily life of a ranch hand.
Daytimes are quite busy with such a broad range of outdoor activities. When dusk arrives, however, it´s time to relax by a warm fireplace and to share the recollections of each day´s memorable experiences. Food at El Porvenir is not to be overlooked. Its cuisine is authentically local and traditional, prepared with recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next.
The main house was built in 1991 by its owner, Juan Fernando Pérez, on a spot that previously had only soil, sky and highland views. The design and materials correspond to local customs, with clay walls, straw roofs and eucalyptus boards. This echoes the spirit of traditional Andean houses. Following both design principles and practical needs, several other constructions were built around a large patio. Besides the main house, there are stables, a farm machinery depot, staff lodgings, saddle rooms and warehouses.
The rooms are divided into seven suites with individual fireplaces and excellent views, seven rooms with full bathrooms and heating, and ten machai rooms with communal bathrooms. The dining room is decorated in the best country style. Other areas include a living room with a fireplace, a meeting hall for corporate events, a game room, a bar and a camping area.
Life here is peaceful. Curiosity regarding the Cotopaxi volcano is complemented by the striking landscape of the highlands, the imposing snow-capped mountains, and the luminous Andean sun. Other mountains, the Sincholagua, Pasochoa, Rumiñahui and Corazón, appear to be just a short distance away, as if drawn in a magical horizon for the delight of natives and foreigners.
Location: on the slopes of the Rumiñahui volcano, in the El Pedregal sector, 2.5 miles from the North entrance to the Cotopaxi national park and 13 miles from the city of Machachi.
Telephone: 593 (2) 204-1520