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A Horse Race in the Galapagos

One of the things I enjoy about doing island-hopping tours in the Galapagos is exploring the local towns and seeing the culture of the Galapagos. Wandering around Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island I once found huge crowds of people in the main square. Asking around, I found out that it was a “Rodeo Montubio.”

What is the Rodeo Montubio?

The Rodeo Montubio is a traditional rodeo celebrated in the rural farming and ranching communities north of Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador. The rodeo includes as its highlight a horse race.

On mainland Ecuador, Ecuadorean cowboys mount wild horses and compete against neighboring ranches to demonstrate superior horsemanship.

Horses were introduced to the Galapagos islands in the 1800s by early settlers.

The horses resting before the race

The horses resting before the race

Rodeo Montubio in the Galapagos

In the Galapagos, representatives from the four populated islands – Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and San Cristobal – vie for bragging rights … and a cash prize to boot. In addition, they had a race between runners and bicyclists from the different islands.

A bicyclist riding through the main square in the final leg of the race

A bicyclist riding through the main square in the final leg of the race

Horse Race Video in the Galapagos

The horses raced from the beach on Isabela to the main square, a sprint completed in a matter of seconds. The audience – families from Isabela, crowded together on the sidewalks, and on the dirt streets, loudly cheering on their favorites.

I think the funniest part is how excited the audience gets – you can see in the video below that people are crowding onto the racetrack just to get a better view. Luckily no one gets run over by runaway horses!

Check out the Red Mangrove lodge on Isabela, it’s a gorgeous place to stay.

As you explore the Galapagos don’t forget to take in the local culture, it’s sure to enrich your experience.

Have you visited the Galapagos? What aspects of the culture did you enjoy? Please share in the comments.

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About the author: Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on the Red Mangrove Galapagos Travel Blog and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on

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