Upon awaking, I open the curtains to see what the day holds. The sun is rising over the hills, and horses are already being lead to the stable just a short distance from my room. Breakfast is served in a huge dining room, lined with antique art work, mirrors and family photos. Women from the local village, in their beautifully embroidered clothes are the waitress bringing eggs made fresh to order, and there is homemade muesli, yoghurts, local coffee, tea and fresh fruit. The day has already started well!
Afterwards, our host comes to join us and takes us on a tour of the cheese factory right on the haciendas premises. Milk is collected from the local community and transported fresh to the factory where is made in to many times of cheese, to be consumed by guests at the hacienda, and sold throughout Ecuador. We also explore the Haciendas gardens, where they grow most of vegetables and herbs in an organic matter to supply the kitchen, “from farm to plate” is their aim.
Later we head out walking over the fields and hills. Hacienda Zuleta has numerous walks to do, all well marked so they can easily be done self-guided. Our trail ends at the Condor Hausi Research Centre. Here we met with a biogist and some stunning Condor birds in their breeding programme. Hacienda Zuleta is supporting this project to help increase numbers of this majestic bird throughout Ecuador.
Another beautiful experience we get to enjoy, is horse riding around the local area and villages. Hacienda Zuleta has an exclusive stable with their own breed of Zuleteño horses. They are truly stunning animals and cared for with so much love and pride. The horses are trained for all levels, and as a beginner this was wonderful and my horse was so calm and gentle I was able to even take photos as we rode around!
During my stay, there was always a friendly family member or host around to ensure we were comfortable. One of my favourite times was simply relaxing in one of the living rooms, comfy sofa in front of the fire, vases of fresh roses, beautiful paintings and photos on the wall, all reflecting the history of this Ecuadorian family, platters of cheese and nibbles from the farm, and a glass of wine.
About: A stunning 17th century hotel and working farm of former president Galo Plaza Lasso and his family. Created with natural warmth, hospitality, and community ties, Hacienda Zuleta is blessed with beautiful antique rooms, delicious homegrown Andean cuisine, and a wealth of activities to choose from.
Where: Located in the heart of Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes, Hacienda Zuleta commands breathtaking views from every side. Blessed with this equatorial location, the climate at the hacienda is temperate year round. Days are often bright and warm with occasional spring-like showers from December to June. July to September is normally dry and hot, with excellent views of the surrounding mountains. October and November can vary. Nights tend to be crisp and skys star-studded, perfect for a glass of wine by the fireside or a bonfire party.
The Rooms: There are 17 unique rooms to chooise from, each with its own fireplace, all in fitting with the colonial style of the Hacienda. Little touches, like plump anti-allergic bedding, embroidered linen, fresh roses, and hot water bottles, add to the charm. Wifi is available throughout most of the hacienda.
Services available: Hiking, Horseback riding, Carriage rides, Bike riding, Cooking Classes, Embroidery, Bird watching, Condor Research Centre, Zuleta for Kids and bonfires!
How to get there: Viva can provide a private transfer service from Quito airport or Quito City.
Thanks to Hacienda Zuleta for a memorable experience, a true paradise and escape from it all with a wonderful community. Hacienda Zuleta is a fantastic additional to a Galapagos cruise, we hope you enjoy it too on your next trip, ask us to included it in your itinerary to Ecuador.