Vista Paraiso Ranch is a lovely, authentic ranch nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. Open daily, this 500-hectare ranch boasts miles of trails for horseback riding, mountain biking and ATV adventures. Here, you sense the peace, tranquility and calmness of the natural surroundings.
This is a wonderful venue to spend a few hours or whole days – there is something to entertain and amuse everybody. The team of well-trained, safety-conscious, bilingual guides will steer you through activities for the little ones such as the petting zoo and pony rides. For those who like to ride, or like the idea of learning how to ride, there are trail horses of all temperaments for every level of skill.
My favourite way to spend a few hours is to go with a couple of good friends and ride slowly through the village of Higuera Blanca. I find it fascinating to watch the daily lives of the local people unfolding before my eyes as I clip-clop my way down the cobbled streets. The horses are oblivious to any noises or activities going on around them and instinctively know they will soon arrive at more interesting terrain.
At the edge of the village, the jungle opens up to a well-worn path through Papelillo trees and beautiful, thick undergrowth filled with indigenous plants and flowers. You’ll meander past a pond that is overgrown with lily-pads where, if you’re lucky, the guides will point out the crocodile that makes his home there.
As the journey continues and the breezes pick up, the jungle gives way to incredible views of the ocean. The next thing you know, there’s a clear stretch of golden sand ahead of you with the lapping Pacific Ocean on the right. This is the perfect opportunity to pick up the pace and take your new friends for a canter or gallop along the beach.
Early morning, or right around sunset, is the best time to enjoy this ride. If you’re lucky, from November to March you might catch whales breaching out at sea. Keep your camera handy as these are memories you’ll want to capture.
Another totally unique activity I thoroughly recommend is the Moonlight Ride. You’ll take the same trail described above – leaving the ranch about an hour before sunset. You should arrive at the beach to meet the sun going down. Then, you’ll ride along in the picture-perfect light and finally arrive at one of several optional dinner destinations.
My favourite (to me this is the authentic Mexican experience) is a small camp that has been set up with tables and chairs on the beach. You’ll find cowboys to tether your horses, local ladies making fresh, hot tortillas and other local delicacies and a chef presiding over a Bar B Q. What could be better than slipping out of the saddle to sip a cold glass of wine, beer or tequila while enjoying the last rays of the Pacific sunset and savor a simple, but yummy, al fresco dinner with the wind in your hair and the horses munching at the nearby undergrowth?
Other dining options include dinner or a longer ride to an elegant diner at Casa Las Brisas.
Whilst all the eating and drinking is going on, the moon will miraculously rise over the mountains and provide full light for you to make your way back to the ranch. You are accompanied throughout by trained, bilingual guides.
The Moonlight Ride is open to a minimum of 8 riders. The cost is $150 US per rider and includes food and beverages. Wine is additional and should be requested ahead of time.
This ride is only available during the full moon of each month as well as the 2 days on either side of it.
If you have never ridden by moonlight before, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is not to be forgotten. It is quite magical, totally unexpected and truly the best way to get close to nature.
For more information, please visit Vista Paraiso Ranch. Or, you can contact our concierge guide (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a visit to this special place for your own horseback riding adventure.
Lisa Bruno is a long-term Punta Mita resident. She is a frustrated golfer, party princess and proud owner of Tank and Tonica,
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Photography by Kemi Vernon. See more of her work at www.kemivernonphotography.com