Hacienda Zuleta riding holiday in Ecuador - Far and Ride
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Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador





Reviews



The trip was excellent. The hacienda is really lovely and the staff are all superb. The surrounding countryside is also beautiful and the horses are all well cared for

Brendan T.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Andalusian, Hispano-crosses, Thoroughbred-crosses and Quarter horses.

Nature of horses:

Robust, noble and smooth Andean horse with a perfect disposition for trail riding

Height of horses:

15hh - 16.2 hh

Weight limit:

100 kg

Tack type:

South American (similar to a Western Saddle)

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Riding at this hacienda has been a family tradition for over one hundred years and today reflects this equestrian affinity by boasting one of the most exclusive stables in Ecuador. Dating from the late XVI century, the hacienda lies in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador at 9,600 feet (2,800 meters) above the sea level, and only two hours north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This is a colonial working farm of 4,000 acres (2,000 hectares) that is family owned. It was chosen as one of the world’s “Top Ten Finds” by Outside magazine.

With their natural warmth and hospitality this family welcomes you to their country house and invites you to share life at an authentic hacienda. There are fifteen beautifully decorated bedrooms, all with their own fire place. Antique gardens along with cosy living and reading rooms offer a peaceful atmosphere. Delicious home cooking and regional cuisine are offered daily, prepared with organic vegetables, trout and dairy products from the farm itself.

Horseback riding is of course their speciality but they also offer mountain bikes and horse drawn carriage trips on the hacienda grounds to observe the milking, agriculture, mountain views and the tranquil life of the community. Guests can also visit the Condor Huasi Project that works for the rehabilitation of the majestic Andean Condor.

Blessed with an equatorial location, the hacienda experiences a temperate climate all year round. Temperatures average 25 degrees during the day with low humidity. Nights tend to be crisp: perfect for sitting in front of the fireplace with a warm cup of tea! January through to June are characterised by sunny days with occasional spring-like showers. During this time of year the countryside is lush and green. July and August are typically dry and provide the best opportunities for extraordinary views of the surrounding volcanoes. September through to December offers pleasant weather with occasional showers.

They are also known for their magnificent Zuleteño horse, a unique mixture of Spanish-Andalusian, English and Quarter horses. The outcome of this cross-breeding is a robust, noble and smooth Andean horse with a perfect disposition for trail riding. All the rides start at the hacienda at about 9,000 ft and each day's ride has its particular beauty and charm.

The flexibility of this hacienda means that you can arrive/depart on any day and stay for as long as you like. If you prefer a shorter stay of four nights then please contact us for prices.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

The Hacienda's hospitality retains intimacy, warmth and sincerity which is reminiscent of a century past. Additionally, they offer a level of privacy rarely achieved in the 21st century. During your stay you will be a guest of the family and you are welcomed as such. You will be invited to relax at your leisure in these cosy reading and living rooms, which have entertained their own entourage of famous visitors including past presidents and dignitaries.

All of the guest rooms are located in the main building of the Hacienda, which dates back to 1691. As the structure of the original colonial building could not be drastically changed, every room has its different shape and charm. Individually decorated with antiques, authentic family pictures and hand embroidered linens, the guest rooms transmit the feeling of a private home. The rooms have beautiful garden and mountain views and some provide access to private gardens, terraces or a courtyard where hummingbirds feed.

Their double beds are queen or king size, with four pillows and anti-allergic bedding. While guests are enjoying their dinner, room service staff place hot water bottles with beautiful embroidered cases in every bed and light the fireplaces. Suites for families and adjoining rooms are available. Satellite television, movies and games are available at any time in one of the living rooms, as well as coffee, soft drinks and a bar service. Phone calls can be made from the public areas and offices.

As your dining experience unfolds, you will be impressed by the Hacienda’s sustainability. Virtually everything gracing the table comes fresh from the land and is carefully prepared. Fresh milk and cream from the farm's dairy cows are offered daily. Handmade cheeses are produced from the farm’s fresh milk and carefully crafted in the small factory near the guest house.

Rainbow trout are caught moments before melting in your mouth. Freshly churned butter melts over warm bread baked from wheat harvested on the Hacienda. Fresh organic fruit and vegetables are picked from the extensive garden to make unforgettable salads and freshly squeezed juices. The recipes used have been inherited from great-grandmothers and are influenced by the various countries where family members have lived over the years. Many of the dishes served are so unique you will not encounter them elsewhere. They have even been published in renowned magazines.

 

Activities

There are many things to do at the Hacienda for non-riders and whilst not in the saddle. Non-riders can meet the group at lunch spots by horse drawn carriage, by bike, hiking or by car. Transfers to other haciendas are also no problem.

Miles of meandering roads through lush pastureland, pine trees and a eucalyptus forest make the valley a paradise for outdoor activities. They have twenty Zuleteño bred horses, mountain bikes and a horse drawn carriage upon which you can explore the area. At the Hacienda itself, guests can find out more information about the trails in the activity room, there are options for every interest and fitness level.

If you would like to travel back in time, we recommend a turn in their horse drawn carriage. Rodrigo Aguilar and a gentle Andalusian mare will take you on an unforgettable trip where you can comfortably explore the Hacienda.

They offer six mountain bikes size 15” to 18.5” as well as helmets. They have many trails perfect for biking, and are happy to drive you to the top of a nearby hill so you can enjoy the descent back to the Hacienda! For your own safety we always recommend you use a helmet.

There are numerous options of trails for every interest and fitness level. You can hike with a local guide who can give you some information on the way, or if you prefer to go alone, you can easily follow self-guided signs along the trails and roads.

 

Further Details

Languages: The local guides speak Spanish but there is always an English speaking guide on-site too.

Health requirements: You will need to be fairly fit to make the most of this experience, due to the high altitude.

Age limit: None (within reason)

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation, three delicious home-cooked meals with non-alcoholic drinks, riding as per itinerary, use of the hacienda facilities.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, transfers, extras not mentioned.

 

Travel Information

Flight guide: Iberia, Continental airlines, Lan airlines via Madrid and KLM fly from London Heathrow, Gatwick and London City (KLM).

Return Quito airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday.

Airport: Quito airport (Mariscal Sucre International)

 

Programmes


Eight Day, Seven Night Hacienda Experience



Riders will have numerous opportunities to explore the stunning Andean countryside along high altitude trails (between 9,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level). All excursions are accompanied by friendly and knowledgeable local guides, although a fluent English speaking guide is always available at an extra cost. All rides include a tasty snack, complimented with homemade fruit juice. Full day rides include a delicious picnic with a luxury option (additional cost) on certain routes. Dinner will be taken back at the Hacienda each night.

Depending on the weather conditions, the Hacienda is able to offer fifteen different routes of varying lengths and durations, so you can pick and choose which ones interest you most. The team here are also able to tailor make some trails depending on your interests and experience - please ask for more details.

Please note that this is a flexible programme and so the itinerary below is simply an example of what you might be able to do during your stay.

Day 1

Arrival in Quito. You will be met at the airport when your flight lands and be transferred up to the luxurious Hacienda. Here you will be personally welcomed by your host family who will discuss with you your personal preferences for your holiday. After planning your itinerary for the week, you will be given a tour of the Hacienda and learn more about the history and heritage of the family home. Seeing ex-President, Galo Plaza Lasso's, private library is a real highlight of the tour, as well as the family chapel and beautiful kitchen and leisure gardens. The rest of the day will be a chance for you to relax and adjust to the high altitude whilst also recovering from a possible long flight. As the sun sets and the temperature drops, you may want to settle in front of the roaring fire with a glass of local wine and browse the information folders in the library before dinner.

Day 2

After waking in these stunning surroundings, you will enjoy a healthy and abundant breakfast with no need to hurry. Mornings tend to be sunny and so it's the best time of day for setting out on a ride. The Condor reserve is located just 3km from the hacienda within a native forest valley, where you will find rescued Condor's in an aviary before they are released back to the wild when they are fit enough. Here you can learn about the wildlife of Zuleta as well as the efforts to protect and nurture endangered condors and Spectacled bears. The visit is available as a 3-hour ride (including 1 hours talk) where you will begin by heading out past the Hacienda’s pastures, milking sheds and Trout farm via pretty cobblestone roads. You will see many ancient Caranqui ‘tola’ pyramids dating from before the Inca Conquest. It is possible to climb the highest ceremonial pyramid when we return, which offers great views of the area. You may also see wild condors taking advantage of the high winds on the mountainside. The ride includes an hour approx. talk at the Condor Huasi facilities.

Back at the Hacienda, you will enjoy a delicious lunch which may be fresh trout from the farm, whilst admiring the giant hummingbirds which visit the flowers around the patio. In the afternoon you may wish to visit the Zuleta women's cooperative and other community projects, where there is the chance to buy beautiful, colourful, hand-made embroidered articles. Leaving the shop you can climb aboard the horse-drawn carriage for a trip through the eucalyptus valley to the foundation run library where local children spend their afternoons.

Upon arriving back at the hacienda, the fire will be lit and a hot bath is waiting for you to close the day in the most relaxing way before dinner.

Days 3 to 7

Each day is flexible and every ride has its particular beauty and charm, including stunning rides through the valleys surrounded by mountains, green lakes on mountain tops, snow-capped Cayambe, ancient pre-Incan earth mounds, waterfalls, dramatic views in or above the clouds. You will see local people work on their land and have a chance to meet a local saddle maker. You can ride high up to viewpoints which offer spectacular vistas of the local area, as well as more chances of spotting Condors.

There is a mixture of full and half day rides on offer, so some days will be more relaxing. On full day rides you will enjoy a picnic out on the trail, whilst half day rides will include lunches at the hacienda.

You may choose from;

The Waterfall ride (c. 1,5-2 hours) - discovering the area of La Cocha lake and the roaring waterfall on the Tahuando river.

The Condor's View ride (c. 1,5-2 hours) - take the route up Santa Rosa hill to witness the beautiful 'Vista Condor'.

Gathering the Herd ride (c. 1-1,5 hours) - join the local groom gathering the herds of over 40 Zuletaño horses.

Mount Cunrro ride (c. 3-4 hours) - ride to 19000 ft to witness the extinct volcano of Mt. Cunrro.

Angochagua Culture ride (c. 3-4 hours) - visit the local farming community to see the age-old techniques of grinding corn and spinning wool still in action. 

Mout Cubilche ride (c. 3-4 hours) - travel up to the Páramo - the high grasslands - to witness views of the entire valley and many rare species of plant life, before riding around the caldera of the Mt. Cubilche volcano.

The Lake's View ride (c. 6-7 hours) - ride over the mountains to a picnic spot with a fabulous view of San Pablo lake - 'Vista Lago'.

Indigenous History ride (c. 6-7 hours) - ride to La Chimba, home to local heroine Tránsito Amaguaña, to discover the turbulent history of the indigenous community.

La Rinconada Cultural ride (c. 6-7 hours) - opportunities for faster riding as well as visit local villages such as La Magdalena with its sweet-coloured houses as well as the farming communities of La Rinconada and Angochagua.

Hacienda to Hacienda ride (c. 6 hours) - ride to the Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th-century estate with "Old World" charm and sumptuous gardens.

Ventana Grande ride (c. 6-7 hours) - ride over the Páramo to the Ventanas (windows) volcanic formation - perfect rock frames for the mountain view beyond.

Ventanas Loop ride (c. 12 hours) - an early start will see you riding a full loop of the Zuleta valley, past the Ventanas and through true Condor country, brushing with local communities along the way.

Experienced riders will be able to ride further into the valleys and communities, enjoying canters across the páramo - you may even be able to help bring the horses in one morning or play with the foals. The terrain is sometimes challenging and so there are places where the pace is necessarily slow, but there are still plenty of opportunities to canter across the meadows. Novice riders will be able to explore at a slower pace on shorter rides which explore the areas around the hacienda.

Day 8

Departure day. Following breakfast, you will say goodbye to your welcoming hosts before being transferred back to Quito.



Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 9
Ability description: Novice and above. A good level of fitness is needed due to the terrain and altitude.
Type of ride: Daily trails.
Total riding time: Flexible.
Departure dates: Dates available to suit.
 
Pricing: 2017/18:

Standard Room (prices are per person)
1 pax: £2941 (includes single supplement)
2 pax: £2405
3 pax: £2380
4-6 pax: £2345
7-9 pax: £2318

Deluxe Room (prices are per person)
1 pax: £3578 (includes single supplement)
2 pax: £2895
3 pax: £2871
4-6 pax: £2834
7-9 pax: £2808

Suite & Junior Suite (prices are per person)
1 pax: £3949 (includes single supplement)
2 pax: £3180
3 pax: £3155
4-6 pax: £3119
7-9 pax: £3093

All prices include 7 nights accommodation, all meals, soft drinks, local taxes, 6 days of riding (rides available of 1-7 hours duration), transfers to and from Quito airport. The prices also include a tour of the Hacienda, as well as a visit to the cheese factory, embroidery shop and the organic kitchen garden.

Single supplements apply for those who do not wish to share a room with another single traveller - this is included in the sole rider rate, but if you are a group and wish to have single rooms then the supplement applies as follows:
Standard room: £299
Deluxe room: £416
Junior Suite: £485

Subject to availability you may be upgraded to a deluxe room free of charge.

Price does not include bike rental, extra riding, tips, alcoholic drinks, flights or travel insurance.

Shorter stays are possible - please enquire for prices.