Riding horses in San Pedro La Laguna is friendly, fun and affordable. Rancho Moises is the only only stable in town. The owner, Francisco, has been running this family business for 27 years. In those decades, the pace of Tz’unun’ Ya (San Pedro) has changed tremendously.
The road to San Pedro was only built in the early 21st century. With improved access, cars, tuktuks and motorcycles arrived in San Pedro– forever changing the town. Atop a horse, you will see more and get a glimpse of what San Pedro was like when it was only accessible by foot, beast or boat.
A Car-less History
Hay for the horses arrives by canoe each morning because the stables in San Pedro are lakeside on Lago Atitlán. You’ll arrive at Rancho Moises by callejon (narrow alley). It is a quiet spot in the center of the Zona Gringa tourist district. Cars don’t fit on the path to the stables, or on many other callejones of San Pedro. Most tuk tuks will drop you off a few blocks away (listen for directions, head towards the lake).
There were no cars in San Pedro La Laguna when Francisco opened the stables in 1995. Back then, most people and things arrived to town by boat, life moved more slowly, and horses were more essential. The road was completed in approximately 2008. Since then the streets are more crowded, polluted and noisy. But the horses have adapted; they hardly flinch as they navigate traffic out of town on their way to greener pastures.
Good Horse Sense
Horses reflect back the energy of people around them. Francisco treats the horses with the same kindness as the tourists that he ferries about town. On a recent trip, he helpfully tied toilet paper to branches, like a trail of breadcrumbs, so that we could find our way back to him after we swam at the secluded playa la Finca. While we swam, he hiked back to fix a broken horseshoe. Of course, he asked us to please remove the toilet paper as we hiked out. La Finca is a nature preserve that is deeply loved by both locals and foreigners alike.
Playa La Finca With Kids
The most common guided horseback ride goes down calle la Finca to an old coffee plantation on the lake, at the edge of town. The whole area is for sale, though some locals doubt it will sell on account of the high price. Nonetheless, development encroaches; the natural area is surrounded by luxury development built with foreign money– mostly to house expats and tourists. But then the road gets rough and ends at a basketball court. Beyond that, la Finca is lush and the overgrown trail leads to expansive views and exclusive lake access. A few old stone buildings stand as relics to a bygone era.
Francisco organizes other trips too, of various lengths and destinations. He welcomes small children– he evens runs alongside the child’s horse, if necessary, to safely lead it by a rope. We’ve also seen his horses rented for foreigners to ride without a guide. Your first ride, at least, will require a guide. It’s worth it to be safe, discover local spots and to get that group picture!
Horseback riding is an expensive luxury in the United States. We are grateful to Francisco because he gives our family an affordable option to ride horses in Guatemala. As of September 2022, prices were Q50 (~$6.75) per person per hour, including guide service.
Here is a link to the location on Google Maps. It’s easiest to arrive by tuk tuk your first time. Tell your tuktukquero (taxi driver) “voy a los caballos”, or something like that, they’ll know what you mean (there are no other horses in town). Rancho Moises is located downhill from Zoola (a notorious tourist venue). If on foot, simply stay on paved paths as close to the lake as possible– the stables are halfway in between Muelle Panajachel and San Pedro Spanish School.