History worth tasting
An authentic body of social, political and ethnic history is enclosed within the walls of the majestic Hacienda Zuleta, located in Imbabura Province in northern Ecuador. It was built back in the 17th century, and the passage of time and different property owners has only served to make it an even more beautiful place, with a continual addition of services it offers to visitors who come from all over the world.
The family that currently owns the Hacienda became connected to the property back in 1898, when the acres upon acres of land were sold to José María Lasso. It was then passed on to Don Galo Plaza Lasso, who was a bullfighter by hobby, diplomat and president of Ecuador, but a farmer at heart, in addition to being a staunch defender of modern agriculture and liberal thinking.
Today, this is a magical environment surrounded by snowcapped mountains and volcanoes, this rich history of indigenous communities and cities that at the hacienda’s inception did not even exist; it is a special location dedicated to preserving endangered animals, as well as cultural, religious and social traditions. This property rises up as a guardian of life and the memories of the local historic figures that one way or another formed a part of the country’s most important ruling class and indigenous leaders who together took on social injustices.
The aboriginal Zuleta community is made up of farmers and women who work in the local embroidery industry, which produces items priced for the quality that comes with manual artwork reflected in the impressive ability of these inspiring indigenous women who relentlessly strive to maintain their ancestral culture intact.
Many of the hacienda employees are people from the community and are openly willing to share their historical traditions with guests, resulting in an indescribable experience. These traditions include Inty Raymi, an annual celebration of the summer harvest, which intertwine pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary cultures.
Guests are invited to participate in the colorful indigenous reality, rounded out with magical, homemade Andean cuisine and a wide variety of open-air activities that include horseback riding. Hacienda Zuleta is the heart of purebred Spanish horse breeding in Ecuador, a practice which took hold in our country a few decades back, resulting in a respectable number of exemplary animals that parade their pedigree through the breathtaking Ecuadorian landscapes.
Guests, staying in the very rooms where the Plaza Lasso family and their descendants were raised, are invited to watch the beautiful country sunsets in front of the cozy fireplace, where people come from the four corners of the world to share their adventures and listen to delightful tales about the Hacienda’s rich history. Come nightfall, any guest who welcomes silence and solitude will be enchanted by the Presidential Library, which contains hundreds of literary works at your disposal.
The Hacienda’s 17 rooms are warmly decorated, each with its own fireplace, and a choice of king, queen, or single beds with anti-allergic linens in junior suites, deluxe rooms, standard rooms, and family suites, which have connecting rooms. Most of the Hacienda is equipped with wi-fi and satellite television.
Social areas are in the old halls and magnificent gardens with expansive spaces and infinitely green fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. You will not cease to be amazed by pyramids and mounds that randomly appear across the landscape, providing an intimate view into the past and opening up the possibility to question ideas about the days of yore.
The old house is surrounded by the Hacienda’s working facilities, with more than 300 Holstein cows producing 6,000 liters of milk per day. On the land, wheat and barley are grown, and the property is also home to the Cheese Museum that is open to guests. There, 14 cheese varieties are produced with local milk and a local workforce.
There are, however, even more attractions to list. Perhaps one of the most emblematic is Condor Huasi, a reserve for the Andean Condor, which is an endangered species. The Hacienda works to protect the condor and has been dedicated to these efforts for over 20 years. There are also three hectares of flowers and trees, where 17 types of vegetables are grown, plus five varieties of fruit and herbs, spices, and medicinal plants.
No stay is complete without a visit to the handicraft shop, which offers top quality handmade items, many of which take months of work to complete. The embroidered cloths are an organic reflection of the indigenous community’s religious art and traditional customs.
Hikes, horse-drawn carriage rides, or bike trails provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy the very best in human creativity. Bird watching, from small and colorful hummingbirds to spectacular condors; the Avenue of Volcanoes and more, all in a place famous for its safe-keeping of ancestral treasures that have borne witness to a history that is worth tasting.