We are not chagra cowboys. Far from it. But our adventurous spirit led us to spend a day like they would, in the heart of the remote Cubillines mountain range, located south of El Altar, within Sangay National Park.
The sun gently spreads over the paramo hills, taking refuge where rushing clouds diverge in the sky, and with the rising of dawn’s first light the chagra prepares his gear, mounts his trusty steed, his eternal friend. With great skill, he gallops up through the paramo grassland, meets his blood brothers, smokes a cigar to ward off the cold… until it’s time to check the cattle, a job for which he was born.
The starting point of this journey —hacienda Abraspungo— is a place where one easily replenishes one’s energy. Its comfortable facilities and incomparable style are part of this horseback riding service that the hacienda has implemented for visitors.
Forty minutes from here is Chambo, an agricultural zone, among the most important in the province. It is also the entrance point to some of the bestpreserved areas of virgin páramo, chockfilled with splendid Andean landscapes and panoramic views.
“May the páramo and the local forests remain intact” was the dream of Eudoro Oviedo, Carlos’s father, who has organized this horseback riding experience. He, together with his family, has cared for and nurtured the vast lands of Hacienda Cubillín towards which we are headed. With these words in mind, I put on a poncho, a coat and hat, remembering that it is the chagras who share Eudoro’s words and who preserve these hills day after day.
As soon as we enter Cubillines, we feel ready to explore it like only the Chimborazo chagra cowboys would. With privileged views of the region’s most emblematic peaks, the journey is both beautiful and adventurous. Trails, streams, waterfalls, rock-climbing cliffs dot our path.
Of mountains and mysteries
Once we are properly clothed, it is time to follow the call of the hills. My horse’s name is Jalisco, with whom I will travel for several hours towards the hacienda’s snow-clad heights. There are four main peaks in the Pailacajas mountain range, each with its unique beauty.
While Carlos gives me pointers on how to ride Jalisco, he also tells me that behind the peaks we are admiring initiates the descent to the jungles of the Amazon. I must admit, this is difficult for me to assimilate considering the cold and the intense fog that surrounds us.
Slowly but surely, we advance up into the paramo. The air, calm and pure; its secrets, its charm, remain intact, as if it were being preserved for posterity.
Hacienda Cubillín belonged to Ludwig ‘The Gringo’ Weber, a World War II veteran. It was in Riobamba where he met Angélica Calero, with whom he would make a home. “They say that the area is good for mining and that there’s a lot of gold, but Weber didn’t buy the land because of that,” Carlos explains, “but rather because he thought it would be a good place to land his planes.”
Continúa leyendo la travesía por Cubillines en nuestra edición n°44: Chimborazo al aire libre. Comunícate al +593 99 980 0239 o acércate a tu librería más cercana (Mr. Books, Librería Española, Librimundi).
Photos: Murray Cooper
To experience a journey on horseback through Cubillines, contact Hacienda Abrasungo and Hacienda Cubillines.
Address: km. 3 1/2 Vía Riobamba – Guano
+593 99 768 3450
Carlos Oviedo (Hacienda Cubillín): +593 99 769 4370