Dating from the late XVI century, Hacienda Zuleta lies in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador at 9,600 feet above the sea level, and only two hours north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
Zuleta is a colonial working farm of 4,000 acres that belongs to the family of Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador, for more than 100 years. It was chosen as one of the world’s “Top Ten Finds” by Outside magazine and named as one of the best Ecuador hotels by National Geographic Traveler.
The hacienda has 15 beautifully decorated bedrooms, all with their own fireplace; antique gardens along with cozy living and reading rooms offer a peaceful atmosphere. Delicious home Ecuadorian cuisine among other types of gastronomic adventures are offered daily, prepared with organic vegetables, trout and dairy products produced on the Hacienda.
The Plaza family with their natural warmth and hospitality welcomes you to their country house and invites you to share life at an authentic hacienda in the Andes of Ecuador.
Hacienda Zuleta's History
Zuleta is a typical colonial hacienda, built by orders of the king of Spain at the end of 16th century. A big part of the construction was finished in 1691, proven by an inscription on the building on the right side of the plaza seen from the entrance.
Zuleta was bought by the Lasso family in 1898. In the 1920s, the family owned 9 haciendas, most of them in the Cotopaxi area, some of them like San Augustin de Callo still belong to the family. Galo Plaza Lasso, who was president of Ecuador from 1948-1952 inherited the Hacienda from his mother and managed the farm until his death in 1987.
Zuleta now belongs to Galo Plaza Lasso’s five daughters Elsa, Luz, Rosario, Marcela and Margarita and to his only son Galo. Fernando Polanco, a grandson of Galo Plaza Lasso, is the general manager and he has a private house on the property. The rest of the family visits frequently during weekends or holidays. To visit Hacienda Zuleta is to experience four centuries of Ecuadorian history seeped in Pre-Colombian, Spanish and Ecuadorian tradition.
Hacienda Zuleta's grounds have a rich pre-Incan history as well. The Caranqui Indians were the first inhabitants of the Zuleta area. The site has more than 140 Caranqui burial mounds, which were constructed between the 8th and 15th centuries. These earth mounds were necessary to protect buildings like huts, sheds and temples from the humidity of the ground. The Caranqui Indians settled here from about 800 AD to the mid 1400s when the war-faring Incas arrived. They fought the Incas for about forty years but the Incas won. Their reign was short-lived however and ended when the Spanish Conquistadors came. The last Incan king Atahualpa was killed by Francisco Pizarro in 1534.
A Working Farm
Zuleta includes 2,112 hectares of pasture land, forest and protected areas of native primary forest. The hacienda’s production consists mainly in milk; with approximately 300 Holstein-Friesian cows. The hacienda produces 6,000 liters of milk daily, which is used to produce fresh and aged cheeses in Zuleta’s cheese factory.
Other products are potatoes, barley, wheat, trout and approximately 2,000 sheep for wool and meat and 900 tons of compost per year from the worm farm. Zuleta also has a beautiful organic garden where it produces 25 different vegetables, herbs and fruits.
There are almost 100 horses, some pure Andalusians and some polo horses, and a mix of Andalusian, quarter horse and thoroughbred. The workers use the horses for transportation inside the hacienda and guests or family ride the horses for their pleasure.
Activities at Hacienda Zuleta
Miles of meandering roads through lush pastureland, pine trees and a eucalyptus forest make the valley of Zuleta a paradise for outdoor activities, such as hiking and trekking. There are horses, mountain bikes and a horse-drawn carriage, which allow guests to explore the area. At the hacienda guests can find out more information about trails in the activity room; there are options for every interest and fitness level.
Many of guests come to Zuleta specifically for one of their 3- to 10-day riding programs. Riders will have numerous opportunities to explore the Andean countryside along high altitude trails (between 9,000 and 11,000 feet) that wind through “páramo,” making the experience an authentic South American horseback ridding adventure.
In addition, Zuleta has been internationally and nationally recognized for its work with the Andean Condor of Ecuador. Many guests ride or hike to Condor Huasi, our condor rehabilitation project, which is located about one mile from the house in a valley surrounded by native forest. At Condor Huasi, the only reproduction and liberation site licensed by the governmental protection agency in Ecuador, you will be able to observe the eight condors in rehabilitation and with some luck you might see wild Andean Condors of Ecuador flying above you or even landing on the aviary.
Accommodations at Hacienda Zuleta
The hacienda has 15 beautifully decorated bedrooms, all with their own fireplace. All rooms are located in the main building of the hacienda. There are three different types: Junior Suite, Hacienda Deluxe and Hacienda Standard. The beds are queen or king size, with feather pillows and down comforters. Suites for families and adjoining rooms are available.
Satellite television, movies and games are available at any time in one of the living rooms. Phone calls can be made from the public areas and offices. Wi-Fi is available in some parts of the farmhouse and a computer with 24/7 Internet service is also available.