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HORSE TRAILS UNICORNIO AZUL Sierra de los Cuchumatanes - GUATEMALA

www.unicornioazul.com e.mail : unicornioguatemala@hotmail.com tel : (502) 52.05.93.28 GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION Guatemala is the country of Central America with the most contrasts. Geographically, there are the tropical lands of Petn or the Pacific Coast and the chilly highlands of Altiplano, marked by some thirty volcanoes, including some that are still active. Historically, Guatemala still preserves marvelous traces of its Mayan origins and its colonial past. Socially, indigenous or ladinos (mestizos) villages are still isolated in the altiplano; the black garifuna population lives on the Caribbean cost; this diversity combined with important immigration to the United States and the tragic and recent history from which the country is just beginning to recover to face the challenges of economical and social development. The Sierra of the Cuchumatanes in western Guatemala is outside of the volcanoes the highest mountain range in Central America ranging from 1 500 to 3 800 meters (6 500 to 12 500 ft). It crosses the departments of Huehuetenango and Quiche from the Mexican border on the west to the department of Alta Verapaz on the east. It is a region of vast proportions, sometimes austere, with a mainly indigenous population. The variations of the altitude in this tropical region result in a large variation of climates and ecosystems. Unknown by conventional tourism, it is - in our opinion and it is why we chose it - one of the regions of Guatemala with the most character and beauty, which is largely only accessible by horse or foot. THE EQUESTRIAN TOURISM CENTER UNICORNIO AZUL The Blue Unicorn can be found on a plateau of 3 000 meters (10 000 ft). In 1998, the stable opened its doors to riders The buildings are built in the traditional style with wide adobe walls and tiled roofs, with a corredor that receives the last rays of sun. Our facilities include the main house, other joined rooms, large stables and corrals. Five rooms receive our guests. At night, a large living room gathers in a warmful atmosphere, the riders around a fire to rest, chat and have dinner. THE HORSES We have fourteen horses, criollos with quarter horse origins including two half appaloosas and two more english. They are medium sized, robust, willing and easy to ride. We chose and trained them to be very rustic for the sometimes very difficult terrain, while still retaining the vivacity and agility of saddle horses. You can see them on our web site : www.unicornioazul/whoweare. We always try to find the horse best suited for each rider depending on the information we have. We give the riders precise information about each horse so they can start the relationship with their horses in the best way possible. EQUIPMENT Our saddles copies of the French Army saddles - have been especially made by Forestier trade (France) for long rides and give the most comfort for both riders and horses. Almost all our horses are ridden with soft hackamores. Depending on the horse and the rider's weight, they carry saddlebags

for shared belongings (picnic supplies, medical supplies and shoeing equipment) and some very light personal belongings (raincoat, small camara ...). RIDERS'S PROFILE (riding level, weight and mentality) The rough and often rocky terrain forces us to a slow or moderate pace but every time is possible, we trot or canter. Therefore, riders must be totally confident at the walk, trot and canter as well as in rough terrain. They will not be afraid to dismount when necessary and guide their horses through abrupt, rocky or muddy ground. Riders will not be over 85 kgs/188 pounds. Two horses of ours can carry 90 kgs/200 pounds but they require a very good level !). We expect that the riders be responsible for the minimal cares of their horses which include grooming, tacking and untacking. Unpredictable things as weather or anything else, require a positive and adventurous spirit, which is essential for the overall atmosphere of the trip. We try to help our clients feel the best but people who expect complete comfort, complete certainty and no effort would have to choose other destination ! The Cuchumatanes is a region still quite isolated and unfamiliar with tourism. It offers us the privilege of having an authentic relationship with the population (which may be curious, distrusting or sincerely welcoming), relationship we want to preserve above all. We refuse the paternalistic or aggressive relationship (sometimes displayed without intention through our behaviour or with the camera ...) with the people who are our neighbours and sometimes our friends. This constant and subtle effort for integration is vital for our cohabitation and allows us to offer our clients a different and respectful approach to the nature and people we come across. If some wish to show their solidarity toward the populations well meet, they can tell us; we can recommend and help them to do it on the best way. Therefore, we expect that our clients understand and apply the different instructions in regards to security, handling of the horses and attitudes towards the population. We also need to know before hand, the size, weight and level ability of each rider. GUIDE AND LOGISTIC TEAM The rides are lead by Pauline, French. She is an Equestrian Tourism Guide (ATE) of the French Equestrian Federation, with 20 years in Guatemala and 14 in the area, and almost 40 years loving horses. She is bilingual in french and spanish and speaks regular english. During the rides, she is accompanied by an assistant with an extra horse. Fernando is Guatemalan. He is in charge of logistic. He is also accompanied by an assistant and a cook assistant. MATERIAL INCLUDED All horse tack including saddle bags (do not bring !), tents and a light mattress. There are some helmets and half legs chaps available even if it is recommended to have its own equipment. There is also a big tent for the kitchen or in case of bad weather, and a latrine. Hot shower is only available in the lodges. In some of the camps, it is possible to bath in the rivers (fresh !). PERSONAL EQUIMENT Riding trousers, warm and waterproof clothing which stop the wind including scarf and woolen bonnet for cold night. No poncho. Comfortable shoes for walking in rugged and slippery terrain (carved sole with a small heel and good ankle support), high sun protection factor sun block to avoid surprises at night, lip balm containing sun block, riding gloves to protect hands from the sun,

sunglasses, helmet or hat (with cordon), half-chaps, a good sleeping bag (some nights might fall below zero), flash light, repellent (for trails to hot lands), towel for the ride, moisted towelettes for personal cleaning during the camp nights, any personal medication. It should be noted that some clients have suffered some malaises such as headaches and mild nausea at 3 800 meters (12 500 ft); be prepared if you sensitive to altitude. Personal belongings need to fit in a suitcase of reasonable size in order to travel with the support car. SAFETY Regarding petty crime, our strategy is primarily prevention : maximum possible integration with local population, lack of provocation (no money or valuables, discreet cameras ...). As of today, we have never had any problems with security. On the other hand, we do ride across isolated areas with few means of communication, no doctors etc... It is vital that the riders are fully aware of this. Because ourselves are aware of the inherent risks of equestrian tourism and health care in the country, we have contact with two companies : one for emergency evacuation by helicopter and the other for emergency medical attention. The improvement in cellular phones allows us to communicate more easily in many locations but there are still areas without signal as well as places with climatic o geographical features which could prevent the helicopter from landing. Should clients need these services, they are responsible for all costs. The security and safety of our clients is one of our priorities and we try to keep the risks at a minimum, however we cannot guarantee to eliminate them completely. We are not responsible for any accident that occurs within or outside our facilities. All riders are asked to sign a liability release form before the ride. TRAVELING IN GUATEMALA It is unthinkable to come to Guatemala without visiting some of the country's most striking places such as the lovely colonial city of Antigua, the beautiful lake Atitln or some Mayan ruins in Peten. We can recommend you some places or recommend a local travel agency.