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Hacienda Zuleta, Cloud Forest near Quito

Hacienda Zuleta, Cloud Forest near Quito

Hacienda Zuleta is the home of the Plaza family, originally built in 1691; it is high (2,900 m asl) and on the western side of the Andean watershed; thus it is still warm (25° C average) but a lot less humid than the equivalent latitude on the eastern side of the Andes, in the Amazon.

Hacienda Zuleta homestead

The Zuleta homestead with rainbow arch.

There is a broad range of activities including horseback riding, mountain bikes, a network of walking trails and a horse drawn carriage. On-farm activities that you can watch/participate in include milking, cheese making and baking. They also run the “Condor Huasi Project” that works to conserve the majestic Andean Condor.

The meals served are of note: virtually everything gracing the table comes fresh from Zuleta’s organic garden: fresh milk and cream, handmade cheeses, rainbow trout are caught moments before melting in your mouth, warm bread baked from wheat harvested on the Hacienda (in season) and organic fruit is picked from the surrounding orchards. The recipes used have been inherited from great-grandmothers and reflect Ecuadorian cuisine at its best.

Hacienda Zuleta  – Condor House

Zuleta has been internationally recognized for its work with the Andean condor. The project is 5 Km from the main house in a wooded valley. It is a feeding centre as well as a breeding and release centre with 8 resident condors. With a wingspan of 3.2 m the condor is one of the biggest birds in the world.

The Andean Condor

The Andean Condor

Horse riding at Hacienda Zuleta

There have been Andalusian horses at Zuleta for over 100 years. Over the years Texas quarter horses and thoroughbreds have been introduced to produce a gentle, well-mannered herd with horses that match all abilities.

The dairy herd heading off to the meadows at Hacienda Zuleta

The dairy herd heading off to the meadows

Riding programmes at Hacienda Zuleta can be up to 10 days long with numerous opportunities to explore the Andean countryside above 9,000 ‘winding through ‘páramo’ (high altitude meadow). Ancient pre-Incan earth mounds, waterfalls and dramatic views above the clouds are all guaranteed. There are 15 different trails. All rides are accompanied by a local guide and an English speaking guide is always available. The tack is western. All-day rides include a fine and luxurious, 3 course picnic. All rides are “en étoile” and return to Hacienda Zuleta for overnight.