Ecuador is a country known for its landscapes, diverse culture, and rich history. One of the most charming aspects of Ecuadorian history and culture are the haciendas. These historic colonial estates offer an immersive way to experience Ecuador’s heritage. I’d like to take you on a journey through the enchanting world of Ecuador’s unique haciendas.
A Glimpse into the Past
Haciendas are large rural estates dating from the Spanish colonial period. These country ranches played a crucial role in the production of crops and textiles. These estates were owned by wealthy Spanish landowners who managed the land with the help of indigenous labourers. Haciendas evolved into vibrant communities, part of the cultural fabric of Ecuador. They became hubs of social, economic, and cultural exchange. The owner hosted events, festivals, that are part the rich traditions of the region. Today, visitors to Ecuador can explore and stay at these historic haciendas, each with its own unique story to tell. They range from working farms to luxury country Inns.
Hacienda Zuleta is a historic gem situated in Ecuador’s scenic north, dating from the 17th century. This enchanting hacienda boasts a rich history, as the property of one of Ecuador’s well-known presidents, Galo Plaza Lasso. It was the one I first visited over 40 years ago, when it was a working farm and family retreat. I learned to ride a horse for the first time by jumping on a thoroughbred. It promptly galloped across the huge valley. Today, Zuleta welcomes high-end travellers seeking an authentic Andean experience. The hacienda offers a blend of colonial charm with modern comforts. Visitors enjoy comfortable rooms, delicious farm-to-table cuisine. Activities range from horse riding to hiking through picturesque landscapes. Pre-Inca earthworks can be visited and there is a condor conservation project. Guests can experience local culture, visit a cheese factory, and explore the organic farm. Hacienda Zuleta preserves Ecuador’s cultural heritage amidst natural beauty.
Hacienda Cusin is a charming colonial estate nestled in the heart of Ecuador’s Andean highlands. Located 2 hours to the north of Quito, close to the market town of Otavalo. This historic hacienda dates back to the 17th century. It offers travellers a blend of old-world charm and modern comforts. When I first visited it decades ago, it was quite run down. Then, in 1990, an Englishman, Nic Millhouse, took it over and restored it to its former glory. He turned it into a hotel. Today, its restored architecture and tranquil surroundings provide an idyllic setting. The beautiful gardens are great for relaxation and orchid spotting. Log fires and hot water bottles in the rooms are nice touches. Guests can enjoy activities such as horse riding and hiking. Then relax in the antique-decorated hall and enjoy the local cuisine. An ideal base to immerse oneself in the local culture. The beautiful mountain of Imbabura sits behind the garden and Lake San Pablo is a short walk away. With warm hospitality and friendly staff, Hacienda Cusin transports visitors to a bygone era.
Hacienda San Agustin de Callo
Situated near Ecuador’s majestic Cotopaxi volcanic mountain, this is an exceptional property. This historic hacienda was built on the site of an Inca palace. It is a major archaeological site. Guests can explore these ancient ruins and enjoy luxurious accommodation. The magical hacienda offers a blend of history and modernity, making it an ideal destination for travellers seeking both culture and nature. It is still owned by the Plaza Lasso family, who have lived there for generations. Each suite is individually decorated with murals. The courtyard is often filled with resident llamas. Bicycles and horses can be hired to explore further afield. You can enjoy traditional cuisine. Take part in cultural activities such as weaving and pottery making. The Inca Chapel offers a place to rest and reflect.
Hacienda La Alegria
Built in 1911, the historic Hacienda and 135-hectare Alegria Farm lies in the lush heart of the Avenue of Volcanoes. These beautiful pastures are home to more than 200 cows and calves, 65 horses and foals, dozens of llamas and alpacas, and more. Gabriel Espinosa and his family are the owners and managers of this working farm. The hacienda has comfortable rooms, beautifully decorated to create a cosy atmosphere where guests can enjoy views of the garden and the Andes. Along the highest trails of the Avenue of the Volcanoes you can enjoy quality horseback riding and ecotourism. Gabriel also organises expeditions into the cloud forest.
Hacienda La Cienega
Hacienda La Cienega is one of Ecuador’s oldest colonial estates, with a history stretching back centuries. The explorer Alexander von Humboldt stayed here. The approach through an avenue of giant eucalyptus trees is magnificent. This well-preserved hacienda, offers a tranquil escape from modern life. It has colonial architecture and gardens home to hummingbirds and the rufous-collared sparrow. A good base for climbers of Cotopaxi, it has been a country inn for many decades. Explore the historic property and enjoy traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. Hacienda La Cienega is a historical landmark, and convenient place to dine just off the Pan-American Highway. Step back in time and immerse yourself in the country’s rich colonial heritage.
Hacienda Piman lies in the valleys of the northern Andes, a couple of hours from Quito. This old hacienda dates back to the late 17th century. It’s more similar to those of Colombia with a walkway that runs around the property. There are rooms in the old manor house, and newer chalets dotted around. The hotels’ gardens are the perfect place to while away a few hours, as is the swimming pool and spa. Inside you will find a restaurant serving up some delicious home-cooked Andean cuisine in relaxed and cosy surroundings. There is much to do in the area, hikes, mountain bike rides and horse riding on request. Excursions that are also bookable include the Afro-Ecuadorian communities of El Chota, the pre-Inca site at Cochasqui, Bosque de Arrayanes Myrtle Forest, Paramo del Angel and Cuicocha Lake as well as the famous indigenous market of Otavalo.
Hacienda El Porvenir
Hacienda El Porvenir is 1h 45minutes from Quito airport by car. El Porvenir estate is owned by the Perez family. The main house was built by Jorge Perez’s great-grandmother. There are a total of 22 guest rooms, the most luxurious of which have their own fireplace. Activities range from adventure (mountain biking, hiking, horse-riding) to family experiences Tourism is a means of ensuring the preservation of the estate, and the landscape. Hacienda El Porvenir is set in a traditional Andean House with adobe walls and thatched roofs. Cotopaxi National Park is 4km away. With parquet floors and large windows, rooms are very bright, all have private bathrooms.
Experiencing Haciendas Today
Haciendas were once symbols of economic power and colonialism, many have been transformed into boutique hotels and eco-friendly lodges. These offer travellers the chance to experience Ecuador’s history and natural beauty in comfort and style. These haciendas offer guided tours, outdoor activities and delicious Ecuadorian cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Ecuador’s haciendas are more than just historic estates; they are windows into the country’s past and present. These beautiful properties offer a blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation or a deeper understanding of Ecuador’s heritage, a visit to one of these haciendas will leave you with lasting memories. So, embark on your own hacienda adventure. Discover the magic of Ecuador’s rich history and charm.
You can encorporate a stay at one of these haciendas in a bespoke holiday to Ecuador. Start planning your trip.
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