Horseback Riding in Puerto Vallarta

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Horseback Riding

Most of the horseback-riding outfits are based on family ranches in the foothill towns of the Sierra like Las Palmas. Horses are permitted on the beach in smaller towns like Sayulita and San Francisco, but not in Vallarta proper, so expect to ride into the hills.

Logistics

Outfitters pick you up either from the hotel or strategic locations north and south of town and return you to your hotel or to the pickup point. Short rides depart morning and afternoon, while longer rides are generally in the morning only, at least in winter, when the sun sets earlier.

Ask at the beachfront restaurants of tiny towns like Yelapa, Quimixto, and Las Animas, south of PV, to hook up with horses for treks into the jungle. Horses are generally well cared for; some are exceptionally fit and frolicky.

Outfitters

Cabalgatas, or horseback riding, is a wonderful way to get out into the countryside. These visitors are touring with guide company Rancho El Charro.

Club de Polo Costa Careyes. Though the trail rides here are expensive at $100 for 45 minutes, you know you're getting an exceptional mount. Trips leave in early morning or around sunset. Km 53.5, Carretera 200, Carretera a Barra de Navidad, El Careyes, Puerto Vallarta, 48983. 315/351-0320.

Rancho El Charro. Rancho Charro provides transportation to and from your hotel for rides to rivers and waterfalls. Choices include three-hour ($62), five-hour ($82, two different trails for average or experienced riders), and all-day rides ($120). Puerto Vallarta. 322/224-0114. www.ranchoelcharro.com..

Rancho Manolo. The friendly folks at the family-owned property take you into the mountains they know so well. The usual tour is to El Edén, the restaurant-and-river property where the movie Predator was filmed. The three-hour trip (about an hour each way on horseback, with an additional hour for a meal, which is not included, or for splashing in the river) costs just $30—definitely a good deal. Km 12, Carretera 200, at Mismaloya bridge, Mismaloya, 48934. 322/228–0018.

Rancho Mi Chaparrita. This ranch has very nice, healthy horses willing to run (or walk, if you ask them politely). Ride on the beach, in the tropical forest, or a combination of the two for $25 an hour. There's a four-hour horse ride ($85) up to Monkey Mountain, with a short break at the top for photo ops and a stretch. Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez 14, Sayulita, 63732. 329/291-3112. www.michaparrita.com..

Rancho Ojo de Agua. The horses are part Mexican quarter horse and part Thoroughbred. According to proud owner Mari González, the stock comes from the Mexican cavalry. The family-owned business conducts sunset and half-day horseback rides (three to five hours, $56 and $68), the latter including lunch and time for a swim in a mountain stream. Cerrada de Cardenal 227, Fracc. Aralias, Puerto Vallarta, 48328. 322/224–0607. www.ranchojodeagua.com..

Art Adventure

The owners of Galeria Arte 550 (322/222-7365www.yourcreativeawakening.com) offer unique tours combining art and adventure. Visits to the mountains and the botanical gardens, whale-watching trips, or other activities provide a springboard for journal drawing and artistic expression in clay, tile-decorating, or other media. Students can arrange their own accommodations or book a package, staying at the new B&B House of Wind and Water : lovely lodgings out in a neighborhood most tourists never see, along the Cuale River on the east side of Highway 200.

Pick-up Polo

Club de Polo Costa Careyes. Though the trail rides here are expensive at $100 for 45 minutes, you know you're getting an exceptional mount. Trips leave in early morning or around sunset. Km 53.5, Carretera 200, Carretera a Barra de Navidad, El Careyes, Puerto Vallarta, 48983. 315/351-0320.

La Patrona Polo Club in Nayarit has matches on Saturday at 6 pm during the season (late November through June). You can watch from the on-site restaurant and enjoy entertainment and live jazz at the adjacent bar. You can also watch practice Tuesday and Thursday from the stands or the restaurant. Ceilan 10, San Francisco, 63729. 311/258-4378 or 322/133-2601. www.polovallarta.com.

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