Ecuador’s most luxurious hacienda, Zuleta

Hacienda Zuleta lies in a most spectacular Andean setting,

exudes comfort combined with history, and offers the perfect place to relax or get active.

Zuleta is a colonial working farm with 17 beautifully decorated bedrooms, all with their own fireplace.

The reading rooms offer a peaceful atmosphere in which to unwind, and the hacienda also has antique gardens in which to stroll.

Delicious homemade Ecuadorian cuisine is offered daily, prepared with organic vegetables, trout and dairy products produced at Zuleta.

More on Hacienda Zuleta

Horse riding is Zuleta’s speciality, and they also have mountain bikes and a horse drawn carriage and a condor rehabilitation centre.

For those searching tranquility, there are many walk, gardens and forested areas to enjoy.

Everything is within easy reach of the main building – if you can tear yourself from it.

The Plaza family with his natural warmth and hospitality welcomes you to their country house and invites you to share life at an authentic hacienda in the Andes of Ecuador.

Trip Highlights

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  • Choose from 17 unique rooms, each with its own fireplace.

  • Stay in one of Ecuador's most famous and historically important haciendas.

  • Sumptuous, home made food, much sourced from the hacienda's own grounds with its farm-to-plate ethos.

  • Wonderful walks, horse rides and nature right on the hacienda's doorstep.

  • Beautiful cloud forest to explore, with a chance to see spectacled bears.

  • Cooking, cheese making and embroidery classes showcase traditional Ecuadorian life.

Outstanding. Saw an pygmy owl, condors and a spectacled bear - all on a 3-hour walk from the hacienda.

Probably the most comfortable and welcoming hacienda I've stayed in.

T. Shearman, Hacienda Zuleta


Full Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Zuelta (transfer not included), welcome afternoon teas, relax and plan (D)

You arrive at Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador Hotel, in the afternoon after a drive through lush pastureland. With some luck you will have enjoyed stunning views of the snow-capped volcano Cayambe on your way, which is just a few miles away from Zuleta.

Your host will welcome you personally at Zuleta and after checking in to your room and explain to you about the activities the hacienda offers and will find out about your personal preferences, needs or questions while having some afternoon tea or coffee.

After planning your stay you are shown around the main building, you learn more about Zuleta’s history, see ex-President Galo Plaza Lasso’s private library, our chapel and wander through our beautiful gardens.

As sun sets it gets chilly at Zuleta, so enjoy some wine and farm made Ecuadorian cheese beside the fireplace while reading our information folders and books, learning more about our foundation, Galo Plaza, our horse breeding business or about the local culture of Ecuadorin the highlands.

Day 2: Choose from various activities (some with additional cost) (B,L,D)

Below is a sample itinerary: some tours incur an extra cost.

If you are an early morning person you might want to enjoy one of the short hikes before breakfast and try to catch sight of the countless birds at Zuleta.

After an exquisite breakfast with eggs, pancakes, muesli, fruit and homemade bread you will be able to visit the cheese factory and learn more about Zuleta’s semi-aged, handmade Ecuadorian cheeses and how the process has changed throughout history.

As mornings are usually sunny throughout the whole year, it is best to take advantage and use this time to take our condor tour. By hiking, biking or horseback riding to our Andean Condor reserve.

In the mornings, you are most likely to spot a Ecuadorian wild condor flying by. The reserve is located 3km from the guesthouse, in a native forest valley. You can learn about the foundation’s efforts, see rescued Andean condors in our aviary, and visit the nearby trout farm.

The route back takes us through pasture land where we ride between ancient monuments of the Caranqui culture; seeing both small burial mounds dating back to 700 A.D., and giant ceremonial truncated ramp pyramids from the 13th century.

At lunch time you can enjoy freshly caught trout and our exquisite Ecuador cuisine.

Then have coffee in the patio whilst admiring the giant hummingbird that comes frequently to feed here. In the afternoon you can buy or order countless beautiful, hand made, colourful embroidery articles from the Zuleta women’s cooperative. Coming out of the shop our horse drawn carriage is ready and waiting for you and will take you down the eucalyptus alley to visit the foundation run library. This is where local children spend their afternoons, getting help with homework, reading and playing.

You can also decide to do a more challenging hike up to Condor view which offers wonderful views of the local area and you may even be lucky enough to spot a family of Spectacle Bears along the way.

You can end the day with a nice hot bath.

Day 3: Choose from various activities (some with additional cost) (B,L,D)

Below is a sample itinerary: some tours incur an extra cost.

After breakfast we invite you to visit the organic garden, where you can learn more about permaculture and see where the ingredients for your menu and the haceidna’s Ecuador cuisine originate.

You can explore the farm operation, feed calves, talk to the vaqueros (local cowboys) or watch our horsemen training young fillies before going on another Ecuadorian horseback ridingor bicycle riding adventure.

Today we explore the Zuleta community, and if weather conditions allow, we offer a lift up the mountain and a downhill bike ride. After the bike ride, you are welcome to have lunch at the hacienda. In the early afternoon, you can explore the Paramo garden, an interpretative site where you learn more about the rare native plants that grow above the tree line.

Enjoy walking through a beautifully designed little garden.

Dinner is waiting for you and with some luck you will dine with family members who have endless stories of Zuleta’s renowned history, including visits of celebrities or dignitaries.

Day 4: Choose from various activities (some with additional cost), end (B,L,D) (B)

Below is a sample itinerary: some tours incur an extra cost.

After breakfast we will take you on your last tour to a beautiful view point – the Cunro Mountain – from where you have a stunning view of the whole of the Zuleta valley and onwards to the town of Ibarra.

While having a little snack you might get the chance to see another condor flying by.

Coming back to the Hacienda it will be time to say good bye, but as you are now part of the Zuleta family, we hope to welcome you again in the near future.

Prices From $1,644 / £1,394 per person

Enquire about booking

What's Included?

Welcome drink, breakfast, 3-course lunch, afternoon snack, 3-course dinner menu, non-alcoholic beverages (fresh juice, soft drinks, mineral water), morning & afternoon tea or coffee, local taxes, Condor Rehabilitation Center and flying condor viewpoint (unguided), 60 km of self-guided trails, unguided community visits including embroidery stores, saddle factories, museums, 14th-century Caranqui archaeological pyramids (unguided), cheese museum, organic vegetable garden, worm farm, milking sheds, trout farm (with a host)

What's Not Included?

International flights (we can look for these), insurance, transfers to and from the hacienda (please ask), alcoholic drinks, tips, extra trips (payable locally, cash or credit cards) such as guided hikes, horse rides, milking lessons, bikes etc


Zuleta is a colonial-era working farm that has belonged to the family of Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador, for more than 100 years.

It was chosen as one of the world’s “Top Ten Finds” by Outside magazine and named one of the best “Ecuadorian Hotels” by National Geographic Traveler.


The Hacienda

A presidential retreat opens its doors with 17 unique rooms to choose from, ideal for adventurers, honeymooners, and families alike.

The hacienda’s beautifully appointed rooms each come with its own fireplace and queen-sized, king-sized, or twin beds. Relax in cozy antique salons, wander through blossoming gardens and plazas, or read one of the hundreds of books in the President’s Library.

Little touches, like plump anti-allergic bedding, embroidered linen, fresh roses, and hot water bottles, add to the charm. Wifi is available throughout most of the Hacienda along with satellite television, movies, and games in one of the living rooms. Complimentary soft drinks are always on hand along with bar service.

There are three different types of room: Junior Suite, Deluxe, and Standard. Suites for families and adjoining rooms are also available.


Hacienda Junior Suites

Four rooms (+ one under construction), 30 m2

Features: King-size bed, desk, two chairs, two sofa corner, fireplace, cupboard, two luggage racks.


Hacienda Deluxe Room

Nine rooms (+ two under construction), 20 m2

Features: King- or queen-size bed, desk, two chairs, cupboard, fireplace, two luggage racks.


Hacienda Standard Room

Four rooms (+ one under construction), 12-15 m2

Features: Queen-size bed, desk, two chairs, fireplace, cupboard, luggage rack.

Tour Staff

The team that manages the Hacienda is led by the Plaza family. Ninety per cent of staff live in the surrounding communities and many families from Zuleta benefit directly or indirectly from the various activities the Hacienda offers.

Delicious food from Marcelina’s kitchen, Señora Liliana’s attention to your every need, the care of Rodrigo, David, and José care during your horseback or carriage ride, the hot water bottle in your bed at night… You will meet Zuleteños (people from Zuleta) who will made every effort to guarantee that your stay is unforgettable.

On arrival at the Hacienda, you will be assigned a host, a dedicated member of the staff who will orient you and be your point of contact during your stay. Hosts are highly experienced in customer relations and tourism, and possess in-depth knowledge of the local area.


Mouth-watering, authentic Ecuadorean cuisine, sourced from the farm and made from family recipes, comes freshly prepared just for you.

Dine on our specially prepared three-course meals, full of ingredients sourced mainly from the Hacienda itself: freshly caught rainbow trout, melt-in-your-mouth cheese, and organic produce from Rosario Plaza’s own gardens.

We also provide scrumptious vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and lactose intolerant menu options.

Activity Level

You can be as active or relaxed as you like at Hacienda Zuleta – horse ride all day or curl up in front of a fire with a book.

Below are some notes on what to expect from your stay. Some tours have an additional cost.



Explore different routes through idyllic pastures, aromatic woods, and winding mountain trails, where soaring condors and Andean bears make their home and volcanoes rise on every side.


Horseback Riding

An exclusive stable with an exclusive breed of Zuleteño horse gives you the opportunity to discover this magnificent landscape in true style. There are horses for every level and provide you with good quality helmets, half chaps, rain ponchos, and a saddle bag so you can feel like a proper caballero while exploring some of our glorious horse trails.


Carriage Rides

Watch the beautiful scenery go by from the comfort of our pretty horse-drawn carriage.



Just you, our mountain bikes, and miles of scenic roads through valleys and high grasslands.


Cooking Class

Learn to cook Andean specialities together with our local chef, using handpicked produce from our organic gardens.



Become part of the famous creative tradition of Zuleta and try your hand at embroidery with the help of our friendly local experts.


Bird Watching

From bejewelled hummingbirds to magnificent condors, Zuleta is a haven for bird species of all kinds, and one of the few places you can see the extremely rare condor in the wild. With the Condor Huasi conservation program, we are also insuring that this will be a sight to see for many years to come.


Zuleta for Kids

With horseback riding, milking cows, treasure hunts, straw house building, bonfires, and becoming a proper Zuleta cowboy, the opportunities are endless for children!

And with the entire Hacienda and its lands as a playground, together with our super friendly dogs, they will not want to leave.



Tired from a long, exciting day hiking or horseback riding? Let the family relax by the fire and experience traditional Andean music and culture. And no bonfire is complete without marshmallows for toasting…

Enquire about booking

Practical Information

Introduction to Ecuador

Ecuador is the second smallest South American country, and one of the most varied.

It comprises three main geographical areas: the coast, highlands and Amazon plus is home to the Galapagos Islands.

Because of its relatively compact size, it makes a great holiday destination as you can move from highlight to highlight fairly easily and rapidly.

Geography of Ecuador

Landscapes vary from the drier south to the more humid north.

The Highlands, or sierra, encompass two Andean Cordilleras (the Central and Western), which run north to south through the country. Ecuador’s largest volcano is Chimborazo (6,310m) whose summit, because of its proximity to the equator, is the closest point on earth to the sun. Several of Ecuador’s volcanoes are still active, and it’s a great area for trekking.

Descending the steep, east-facing slopes of the eastern Cordillera, one passes through a transition zone comprising dense cloud forest and humid high jungle, before entering the Amazon lowlands.

This mainly primary rainforest covers a third of the country, accounts for 5% of the population and stretches across Ecuador, from its Colombian to its Peruvian borders.

The Galapagos Islands are simply unique. Lying 600 miles off the mainland, the archipelago comprises the summits of gigantic equatorial volcanoes.

The flora and fauna of the Galapagos, long separated from their continental cousins, have evolved differently. Charles Darwin used his observations there to develop his theory of Evolution.

Weather in Ecuador

Ecuador lies between latitudes 4º south and 2º north. Overall, climate varies according to time of year, altitude and region.


The Sierra 

In the Ecuadorian highlands, there is little temperature variation by season as temperature depends largely on altitude.

In Quito, shade temperatures range from 6 to 10ºC in the morning and from 19 to 23ºC in the afternoon, with cool nights. In the lower basins between mountains, it gets significantly warmer.

Rainfall depends on whether an area lies closer to the eastern or western Andes. To the west, June-Sept is the dry period and Oct-May the wet (with often a short, dry spell in Dec or Jan).

The best period to visit Quito and trek and climb volcanoes such as Cotopaxi is the west Andean dry season of June-Sept and Dec/Jan. This is also Ecuador’s high season. During the Oct-May wet season, most rainfall is in the afternoons.

To the east, Oct to Feb are dry and Mar-Sept are wet. Overall, the southern highlands are drier than the northern highlands.


The Coast

On the Pacific coast, rainfall becomes less from north to south. The coast can be enjoyed year-round, although from June-Sept mornings are often grey with the garua mists.

Jan-May is the hottest and rainiest time of year.


The Amazon

In Ecuador’s Amazonian region, rain can fall at any time, but Dec-March is usually the driest season and Mar-Sept is usually the wettest period.


The Galapagos Islands

Galapagos can be visited at any time of year.

The warm season is Jan-Jun, bringing calm, warm waters (around 70°F) and sunny days (72-9°F or 22-32°C), February and March being the hottest and sunniest months with blue skies and sunshine.

The islands receive slightly more rainfall during these months, occasional heavy bursts in the afternoon. Great for snorkelling and you can spend a lot of time in the water without wetsuits, with great, clear waters.

The dry ‘garua’ season is Jun-Dec an it’s a great time for marine life. August and September are the coolest when you may need a jacket in the evenings and the sea can be choppy and temperature drops around 15-24ºC on average.

There can be mist on the islands in the mornings (garua) which usually burns off by midday leaving overcast skies or a sunny afternoon.

Sea temperatures may drop to 60°F- 72°F (15-22°C) during this time and snorkellers will want a wet suit for prolonged periods in the sea.


Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

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Ecuador has an incredibly local and varied set of weather systems, which means you need to be prepared for almost every eventuality.

When planning for these changeable climatic conditions you will encounter across Ecuador, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.

The sun is very strong throughout the country, so good sun cream, a hat and sunglasses are vital.

It can also get very cold at night time especially in the mountains and in cities like Quito. Jumpers, fleeces and warms hats – which you can buy there – are also essential.

It can rain at any time, so always have a poncho/waterproof jacket handy.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

Below is a more detailed guide.


Detailed kit list

  • Medium weight parka or a down jacket.
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers. The jacket needs to be water proof and roomy. Side-zip pants are recommended.
  • 2-3 long-sleeve shirts – no cotton
  • 2-3 short-sleeve T-shirts – no cotton
  • 2 pair of hiking trousers- cotton or synthetic material (no jeans)
  • 1 fleece or sweat trousers (for cold evenings)
  • 2 pair hiking shorts
  • Long thermals – synthetic or wool – light to medium weight top & bottoms.
  • 2-3 mid-weight (wool or synthetic) socks.
  • 2-3 liner socks if needed
  • Athletic-type socks, several pairs, city use
  • Hiking boots that are waterproof and well broken-in.
  • Running/tennis shoes or sandals are very comfortable when you are in cities
  • 1 lightweight wool sweater or windproof fleece
  • 1 wool or synthetic warm hat.
  • 1 light sun hat with a wide brim.
  • 1 pair of medium-weight wool or synthetic gloves
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent (just in case)
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!).
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other to help pass the time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.


Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.


What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.


Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.


I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

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