Otavalo, Central Highlands, Ecuador
At a Glance
Hacienda Zuleta is a beautiful 17th century, working farm turned family run boutique hotel that has been in the family of the former Ecuador President Galo Plaza Lasso for over 100 years.
Meals are enjoyed family style, cooked by local chefs making authentic Ecuadorian cuisine from produce grown in Zuleta’s own organic farm – picture delicious, warming, homely dishes.
There is plenty to do within & around the Hacienda grounds – explore hidden trails by foot, bike or on the Hacienda’s own breed of horses. See and learn about endangered species at their Condor Huasi centre or perhaps learn a local craft like embroidery or Ecuadorian cookery.
Most rooms also have a wood burning fire - a cosy and intimate atmosphere
They even have their own cheese factory and each afternoon will put out a spread for guest to try. Perfect for a predinner catch up paired with a glass of wine.
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
All year round destination. Due to its position on the equator and its altitude, Quito’s temperature varies greatly between night and day. Daytime temperatures average 23-25ºC, while at night temperatures drop to around 10ºC. In general, days are clear in the morning and cloud over in the afternoon, with rain common in the afternoon. The drier season runs from the end of May to the end September, with another brief summertime in early December (which coincides nicely with the city’s fiestas).
To start planning your holiday to Hacienda Zuleta
Dating from the late 16th century, the historic Hacienda Zuleta lies in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador at 9,600 feet above sea level, and only two hours north of Quito and one hour from the famous indigenous market town of Otavalo.
Hacienda Zuleta is a 4,000 acre colonial working ranch that has belonged to the family of a former Ecuadorian president for more than 100 years. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Andes Mountains and fertile farming valleys, Zuleta is a great option for lovers of horse riding or walking. Although more remote than other haciendas in the Otavalo area, the effort is worth it to see the Ecuadorian countryside in its full glory.
As the structure of the original colonial building could not be drastically changed, every room has its different shape and charm. All are individually decorated with antiques, authentic family pictures and hand embroidered linens - again transmitting the feeling of a private home.
Local farm workers are only too pleased to show guests the dairy and cheese factory, organic garden, tree nursery, trout farm, an embroidery workshop owned by the indigenous community, and the successful condor-recuperation and raising project.
Wonderful Ecuadorian cuisine is created from fresh ingredients from Zuleta's organic garden and farm, and is carefully prepared by hand. Other facilities include lovely gardens, cosy living and reading rooms, horse-riding, mountain bikes and horse drawn carriage rides.
Hacienda Zuleta has 21 rooms and suites. Every room has a different shape and charm, which brings a unique feeling of Ecuadorean culture. Individually decorated with antiques, authentic family pictures and hand embroidered linens, the guest rooms give the feeling of a private home. Rooms have beautiful garden and mountain views and some provide access to private gardens, terraces or a courtyard where hummingbirds feed. Suites are available for families and adjoining rooms are also available.
Children are very welcome at Hacienda Zuleta. Babysitting can be arranged upon request, and suites for families and adjoining rooms are available.
Satellite TV, movies and games are available at any time in one of the living rooms, as well as coffee, soft drinks and a bar service. WiFi is available in some parts of the farm house and a computer with 24/7 internet service is also available for guests.
Miles of meandering trails through lush pastureland, pine trees and a eucalyptus forest make the valley of Zuleta a paradise for outdoor activities, such as hiking and trekking in Ecuador. Zuleta has twenty Zuleteño bred horses, mountain bikes and a horse drawn carriage upon which you can explore the area.
Danielle Diaz-Myers (Staff)
Hacienda Zuleta is the perfect place to relax during your whirlwind trip to Quito. Arriving at the hacienda is like being transported to a world of peace and tranquility. Take advantage of the property by stopping by the cheese factory, exploring the condor reserve or fishing at the trout pond. The best way to see the property is by horse - saddle up and trot around the valley. All levels are welcome to experience horseback riding.
Scarlett Richard (Staff)
Katie Aston (Staff)
By staying at Hacienda Zuleta you can immerse yourself in the life of a working hacienda in the Andean highlands of Ecuador (the farm has milking cows and sheep and is one of Ecuador's primary producers of artisan cheese). It is also intrinsically linked to the history of Ecuador, having been the home to two of Ecuador's presidents and continues to be a family home (albeit a rather lovely country pile) and members of the Plaza family are often around to tell guests anecdotes about the house and its history as well as its interesting future as a sustainable tourism project.
There is so much on offer at Zuleta, from horseback riding through unspoilt Andean scenery on their impeccable horses, perhaps visiting the fascinating Condor Huasi rehabilitation project and if you're lucky to have a chance to see wild condors and even bespectacled bears who live in the surrounding mountains. There are self guiding hiking trails, guests can hire mountain bikes to explore the property or visit the local community and cheese factory or beautiful organic vegetable patch and look out for hummingbirds. The rooms themselves are pretty and cosy with fireplaces, the bathrooms are slowly being upgraded so some seem old fashioned, it is worth booking the deluxe rooms and junior suites for more space and privacy. Most of the beds can be twin or king so there are plenty of options for families. Food is mainly produced from the farm and is home cooked rather than gourmet with a limited menu but wholesome and delicious. Cheese lovers will enjoy the evening cheese tasting and abundant cheese at every meal. Meals tend to be a communal affair around the large dining table but if you are looking for more privacy there is a separate dining area.
One of the main aims at Zuleta is to employ as many of the local community as possible so while there is always someone who speaks English during the day, in the evening this is more limited, however the local ladies who work there are charming and will do their utmost to make your stay as special as possible. Hacienda Zuleta is definitely for the more independent traveller who wants to see a different side to Ecuador and loves the countryside and outdoors. If you like all mod cons and contemporary luxury, this is probably not the place for you.
Activities for kids at Hacienda Zuleta
Hacienda Zuleta is a wonderful destination for families, offering activities in abundance to keep little ones entertained. From bonfires to kite flying and mountain biking to kayaking there is bound to be something to capture their interest.
Birding at Hacienda Zuleta
Home to an incredible diversity of birds, Ecuador is a wonderful destination for birding enthusiasts and Otavalo is no exception. Its location within the dramatic Andes means it is home to the Andean condor amongst other rare species.
Hiking and trekking at Hacienda Zuleta
With trails to suit a range of interests and fitness levels, hiking at Hacienda Zuleta can be tailored to you. Head out with a guide or go it alone and discover the picturesque surroundings of the Otavalo countryside.
Horse riding at Hacienda Zuleta
Notorious for its wonderful scenery and beautiful horses, Ecuador's highlands are a joy to explore by horseback. Embark on an equestrian adventure through Otavalo's beautiful countryside, surrounded by mountains, lakes and waterfalls for dramatic views.
Mountain biking at Hacienda Zuleta
Descend the rugged hills of Otavalo's countryside by mountain bike for an adrenaline-fuelled afternoon. Staff at Hacienda Zuleta can drop you at one of the surrounding hilltops so you are free to follow one of the many exhilarating trails.
Ecuador & Galapagos with Kids
Quito, Galapagos and Otavalo
from £4100 pp inc flights & transfers for 10 nights
- You will have a myriad of experiences to enjoy on this tailormade itinerary as you can partake in land and water-based activities such as kayaking, snorkelling and biking whilst observing animals such as sea lions and the blue-footed boobies.
- Discover the cultural delights of the city of Quito, flanked by the Andes.
- You’ll be based on the island of Santa Cruz, in the heart of the archipelago where you will have abundant wildlife sightings.
Otavalo, Amazon, Quito, Avenue of Volcanoes, Cuenca, Guayaquil
from £6600 pp inc flights & transfers for 14 nights
- This all-encompassing itinerary really gets under the skin of mainland Ecuador’s staggering geographical diversity and is packed full to the brim with the country's best experiences and most spectacular sights.
- Explore the majestic and colonially influenced cities of Quito and Cuenca, UNESCO World Heritage sites where the cobbled streets and architecture hark back to a rich historical and cultural past.
- Get a real sense of remoteness as you paddle along winding rivers and watch the sunrise over the jungle canopy in the Amazonian rainforest, keeping your eyes peeled for monkeys swinging through the trees and colourful birds flying overhead.
Epic Ecuador & Galapagos
Otavalo, Amazon, Quito, Galapagos, Guayaquil
from £8300 pp inc flights & transfers for 12 nights
- This action-packed itinerary really gets under the skin of Ecuador’s staggering geographical diversity and is packed full to the brim with the country's best experiences and dazzling sights
- Uncover a little of Ecuador’s colonial history and cultural influences with a backdrop of dramatic snow-capped mountains and softly billowing volcanoes
- Experience the magic of the Galapagos from the comfort of a luxurious catamaran with your own private balcony, the perfect spot for soaking up dreamlike sunsets with a chilled glass of fizz!
Imagine Ecuador & Galapagos
Quito, Mashpi Cloud Forest, Otavalo, Galapagos Islands
from £5700 pp inc flights & transfers for 11 nights
- An enthralling introduction to the natural wonders of Ecuador, travelling from the Andes to the wildlife-rich Galapagos archipelago.
- Wake up to emerald green rainforest covered with pockets of mist cloud whilst staying at Mashpi Lodge.
- Venture through Otavalo, a playground for adventure seekers. Explore on foot, by bike or canter through astonishing landscapes on horseback.
Location & directions
Otavalo, Central Highlands, Ecuador
Located between 2870 and 3050 metres above sea level in the Andean mountains of Northern Ecuador and 110 kilometres north of Quito.
How to get there
Hacienda Zuleta is located about 2-hours North East of Ecuador’s capital, Quito and 45 minutes from Otavalo.
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