Hacienda Zuleta dates back to 1691 and lies in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador at 9600 feet above sea level and only two hours north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Zuleta is a colonial working farm of 4000 acres that, for more than 100 years, has belonged to the family of Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador. 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 and cozy living and reading rooms offer a peaceful atmosphere. Delicious homemade 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 guests to their country house to enjoy time at an authentic hacienda in the Andes of Ecuador.
Hacienda Zuleta Review
AdventureSmith Explorations’ Hacienda Zuleta review includes a detailed description and photo gallery. Our adventure travel experts have been to nearly every Ecuadorian lodge and can help compare Hacienda Zuleta with other adventure lodging and Ecuador land tours.
Choose Hacienda Zuleta for an authentic experience at a charming 17th century working farm in the stunning and serene Andean countryside. Your warm and welcoming hosts are proud to show the rich history of their estate that has been in the family for generations and will make you feel right at home where you can relax or choose from a wealth of activities.
History at Hacienda Zuleta
A typical colonial hacienda, Zuleta was 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 nine 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 only son, Galo, as well as Lasso’s five daughters: Elsa, Luz, Rosario, Marcela and Margarita. 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 steeped 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 40 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.
Hacienda Zuleta: A Working Farm
Zuleta includes 5219 acres 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 1585 gallons of milk daily, which is used to produce fresh and aged cheeses in Zuleta’s cheese factory.
The farm’s other products include potatoes, barley, wheat, trout and approximately 2000 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, while guests or members of the Lasso 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 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 9000 and 11000 feet) that wind through páramo, making the experience an authentic South American horseback riding adventure.
For most visitors to Hacienda Zuleta, a visit to the Condor Interpretation Center, talking with the biologists about the project and seeing the captive and wild condors is a highlight – and a concrete example of how tourism and conservation can go hand in hand. Zuleta has been internationally and nationally recognized for its work with the Andean Condor of Ecuador, a majestic bird and a symbol of Andean identity and pride. Many guests ride or hike to Condor Huasi, the 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, up to 8 of the world’s roughly 100 Andean condors are 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
15 bedrooms are beautifully decorated, each with its 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.