Last year I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit hacienda Zuleta with my work colleague Karla. Located in Imbabura, Hacienda Zuleta is a stunning 17th-century hotel and working-farm of former Ecuador President Galo Plaza Lasso and his family, and today one of the grandest haciendas in the country.
In just 2 days we were able to enjoy many different activities, from biking in the highway to watching condors being fed, it was an adventure from start to finish.
Read on to learn more about my Hacienda Zuleta experience.
DAY1 : ARRIVAL, HIKING, HORSEBACK RIDING, AND BONFIRE
We arrived at the Hacienda early in the morning, and the tour guide showed us straight to our room. We were fortunate enough to have a deluxe room with an incredible private mini pool and a chimney (perfect for a chilly night!). Our room also had a private yard with a big tree and some chairs so you can enjoy a nice sunbath. We had two single beds that were perfect for my roommate and me. The room was filled with beautiful handmade paintings and also they gave us information brochures. A special thing that all the rooms offer at the hacienda was a little card placed next to the chimney that said if you would like to have more firewood at night, this was very helpful1, the nights at the hacienda could be very chilly but the fireplace at the room makes it very cozy!
After settling in, we regrouped with our guide, ready for the first activity – a hike to get to know the area around the hacienda. With our hiking boots and sports bottles full of water, we were ready to head out on the rabbit trail. This trail was a gentle & easy walk, mostly on flat ground, with chances to rest and enjoy the views along the way. From the top, we could see Inca Pyramids that are part of the Hacienda, with time to take some photos.
Continuing the hike, we visited Condor Huasi, a project with 2 components: research and education about Andean Condors in Ecuador. We saw the conservation efforts of this emblematic bird first hand and met the 3 condors that they had at the reserve. Each of these condors was injured by locals, and now have a safe home to recover and aid the study program.
Having worked up an appetite it was time to enjoy a delicious lunch; as a vegan, they took care to offer me plenty of healthy, organic options taken right from the little garden they have at the hacienda.
In the afternoon, we did horseback riding; it was my first time on a horse so I was nervous, but the guides went out of their way to help me through the ride. I really enjoyed this fun activity, and the horses were so well trained that I could ride without any worries.
Returning to the hacienda we enjoyed some free time, and then a wonderful dinner. But the fun didn’t stop there, at night we made a bonfire with all the guests, and local people were invited to show us their traditional dance and music. The bonfire experience was amazing and helped us all to recover from all the exertions of the day.
In such comfortable countryside surroundings, I slept like a log!
DAY2 : EXPLORING WATERFALLS
Day 2 started with a variety of breakfast options, eggs, cereal, and sandwiches, and a special vegan plate of plantain patacones and guacamole for me. I must admit I was impressed by the attention to take care of every detail, especially with the food, so everyone has a lot of options, and special diets are well catered for, so everyone can enjoy all of the meals.
Our first activity of the day was to visit some sites in the surroundings of the hacienda. This included the organic garden where we learned about all of the delicious vegetables that they grow for guest meals. Next onto the cheese factory, which amazed us all with the great variety of cheeses that are handmade with local milk by local people! We also learned a little bit about the story of the factory and the cheese-making process.
For our last adventure, we visited the waterfall that is located close to the hacienda, just a short car ride and then a 10-minute hike down to reach the waterfall. The waterfall and the views were really beautiful, so we took some pictures and then headed back to the hacienda for our journey home.
This was my first experience of this kind, and it was completely worth it. I made some great memories, as well as learning a lot about conservation and history. The complete experience that Hacienda Zuleta has to offer is unique! Not only were the activities varied and fun, but also the Hacienda rooms and grounds were spectacular, and the green countryside setting very relaxing.
Thanks, Hacienda Zuleta and the staff and guides for helping me to leave the worries of the world behind me for 2 wonderful days!
Happy Gringo specializes in custom-making unique itineraries for Ecuador vacations. We also have a wide selection of tours that past clients have loved. Just drop us a line if you would like help or advice to make Ecuador your next vacation destination.
Pamela is a Student of Graphic Design. Her goal since joining Happy Gringo is to help in all the graphic and publicity areas. She enjoys spending time playing the piano, traveling and making music. One of her goals is to travel as many countries as she possibly can.