Hacienda ZuletaImbabura, Ecuador
This charming colonial hacienda encompasses 2,112 hectares (5,216 acres) and may be explored on the back of one of the 50 well-groomed (and well-behaved) horses – or, perhaps, by mountain bike. There are miles of tracks on the estate which lead to fascinating places, such as unexcavated pre-Inca remains, a Spectacled Bear research project and a very highly regarded Condor research and rehabilitation centre
Visits to the local community are also encouraged. A little further afield, trekking can be arranged around the Mojanda Lakes.
Hacienda Zuleta has been owned by the Plaza family since 1898 and the sprawling house, which dates from 1565, is beautifully furnished with comfortable furniture, antiques and artefacts. The 21 bedrooms are well appointed and comfortable with their own fires or wood burning stoves and modern en-suite bathrooms. Six of these rooms have very recently been converted, which together with a new dining room, parking and reception area firmly establish this as one or our favourite hotels in Ecuador.
The hacienda is a working dairy farm producing excellent cheeses as well as having a large organic vegetable garden producing 28 different vegetables and herbs, which are made good use of by the excellent kitchen for the benefit of guests at meal times. The fresh ingredients and traditional recipe, which have been handed down the family through the generations, make for an excellent traditional Ecuadorian dining experience. Cooking classes are also available. These activities are highlighted in an article which we recently featured in the Financial Times entitled Five Star Farm Stays in Ecuador, and also in The Week magazine.