Ecuador's Historic Haciendas & Cotopaxi

Ecuador's colonial-era haciendas present a glimpse of the country's dramatic Andean highlands. On this quintessential journey of Ecuador's heartlands, we travel to some of the most charming hacienda villages and towns steeped in character, history and charm against the sacred Cotopaxi Volcano. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Stay in charming boutique hacienda hotels

Witness the surreal Cotopaxi Volcano and Quilotoa Crater Lake

Savour fine and exquisite gastronomy 

Experience ecounters with the Otavalenos people

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE QUITO / LOS CHILLOS VALLEY

Arrive Quito Mariscal Sucre Intl Airport and transfer to Hacienda La Carriona, located in the beautiful valley of Los Chillos (30mins drive). Constructed more than two centuries ago, La Carriona stands as a monument to Ecuador's colonial history. Its stone and courtyard garden hint of the exuberant Spanish colonial lifestyle, while its name reminds of the estate once belonged to the Carrion family. Be welcome warmly by your hosts for an introduction into the hacienda culture and this evening, be treated to a delightful local-styled dinner. 

Overnight: Hacienda La Carriona, Los Chillos Valley

Meals: Dinner

DAY 2: LOS CHILLOS VALLEY / QUILOTOA CRATER / TIGUA / COTOPAXI

After breakfast, we journey to the extinct Quilotoa Volcano, in a remote area of the high Andes on the western side of the Cotopaxi province. En route, we may visit a local market. After a drive up unpaved roads and a short hike to the rim, we will look down into the dark green Quilotoa Crater Lake. At this majestic site, at the level of the clouds, it is an extraordinary and rarely-seen landscape. Consider a hike down to the lake and ride a mule on the way up. Thereafter, we continue our excursion to Tigua, where the Quicha people are renowned for their unique art that include glimpses of everyday life including farming and agriculture. The native American artists of Tigua are direct descendents of the Incan and pre-Incan populations who have inhabited this area for centuries. Enjoy a typical Andean lunch made of local ingredients before returning on the Avenue of Volcanoes to Salcedo and the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, a 15th Century Inca palace and 16th Century colonial monastery converted into a charming hacienda. On arrival, be introduced to the historic grounds of the hacienda which is currently under investigated by Dr David Brown of the University of Texas with funding from the National Geographic Society to look into traces of its Incan past. 

Overnight: Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, Cotopaxi

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

DAY 3: COTOPAXI / ANTISANA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE / PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS

This morning, we head to Cotopaxi, the white-coned summit of the perfectly symmetrical volcano along the Avenue of Volcanoes. The glaciated summit is 5,907m above sea level, making it the highest active volcano on Earth. We take a hike on the foothills to visit the moorlands of the Cotopaxi National Park, a vast wilderness of sweeping plains on 85,000 acres of land where you may spot Andean condors, llamas, spectacled bears and many other species of fauna and flora. Thereafter, continue to the village of Pintag, where the eastern range of the Andes rises towards the majestic Antisana Volcano where we view the panorama from a private reserve that starts at cloud-forest level dominated by bamboos and bromeliads and extends past the amazing lava flows of the volcano. The reserve's plateau is crowned by La Mica Lake teeming with bird life. Enjoy a picnic lunch in nature with the snow-peaks of Antisana as your backdrop. Finally, we drive to the Papallacta Hot Springs on the eastern foothills of the Andes to enjoy a therapeutic stay tonight. 

Overnight: Termas de Papallacta, Papallacta Hot Springs

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

 

DAY 4: PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS / CAYAMBE / IMBABURA

Spend the morning enjoying the relaxing hot springs and in the late morning, we travel to the Awakening Valley, home of the Otavalo Indians. In Cayambe, see how the pueblo's traditional biscuits and cheese are made, then visit the local "Middle of the World" Monument, marking the equator, and Rosen Pavillon, one of its first rose plantations. The owner, Maria Eugenia Espinosa, will take you on a tour of this romantic place, which still maintains the tradition of women cultivating the roses by hand. Thereafter, we drive along the San Pablo Lake to Hacienda Pinsaqui. Constructed in 1790, the hacienda was originally a colonial textile enterprise, employing over a thousand weavers and spinners. To this day, it retains the character and authenticity of its earlier incarnation.

 

 

Finally, we continue to Hacienda Zuleta, steeped in four centuries of Pre-Columbian, Spanish and Ecuadorian history and traditions. Learn about its storied past and most recently, the property was owned by Galo Plaza Lasso, ex-President of Ecuador, bullfighter and diplomat. 

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta, Imbabura

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

DAY 5: IMBABURA

We have the whole day today to explore the entire estate of Hacienda Zuleta on foot or on horse. Be privately escorted by a Plaza family member, a gesture of Hacienda Zuleta's renowned hospitality and choose from a range of activities such as the surrounding archaeological sites, working farms, hand-embroidery workshops, condor rehabilitation project, trout farm, cheese factory and stables. The hacienda is as famous for its horses and riding program as it is for its history and hospitality where it is renowned for its Zuleteno horses, a unique mixture of Spanish-Andalusian, English and Quarter horses, a robust Andean horse with a good disposition for riding. 

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta, Imbabura

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: IMBABURA / OTAVALO INDIAN MARKET / QUITO

After breakfast, we leave Hacienda Zuleta and head to the Otavalo Valley, at the foot of Imbabura Volcano surrounded by clear lakes and pristine hills. Visit the ruins of the Incan Sun Temple at Caranqui and the village of Peguche, where musical instruments and woolen tapestries are made. Then, we visit the Otavalo Indian Market which dates back to pre-Inca times. The market is an experience for all senses; the aromas of traditional fare, soothing Andean panpipes, a kaleidoscope of colors, soft alpaca scarves and customary bargaining. The Otavalenos are owners of a rich inheritance, the customs of their craft; lovers of the rhythm of their music and their dance. Experience an encounter with this proud race of people whose cultural integrity endures and discover ancient haciendas, authentic workshops in the area. Finally, we drive on to Quito for our arrival at the amazing Casa Gangotena. for check in. 

Overnight: Casa Gangotena, Quito

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 7: QUITO

Today, we begin a tour of Quito, capital city of Ecuador and the world's first historical old city centre to be listed into UNESCO. Begin with a visit to the Panecillo Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of the old city and then descend into the old town centre and the Basilica Church for a brief visit. We then head to San Juan Mirador for another great viewpoint of the colonial center and after that, enjoy a stroll through the old streets seeing sites such as Independence Plaza admiring the Cathedral, Government's Palace and Ronda Street. Make a fascinating visit to the Middle of the World monument where you can stand right in the middle of the imaginery equatorial line straddling the northern and southern hemispheres. Continue our visit to the Inaquito Market where vendors parade exotic fruits, fresh vegetables and produce and some of the most authentic insight into Ecuador's signature dishes and food. 

Overnight: Casa Gangotena, Quito

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 8: DEPART QUITO

Transfer to Quito Mariscal Sucre Intl Airport for your onward journey home or to the Galapagos. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Built over 200 years ago, Hacienda La Carriona is a beautiful ranch located in the Los Chillos Valley outside of Quito. The house that the hacienda now inhabits has been updated, restored and expanded to create what is now the hotel La Carriona. Guests can enjoy the colonial rooms and hall ways, elegant dining rooms, a cosy bar and enjoy local homemade cuisine. 

Hacienda La Carriona, Los Chillos Valley

Nestled in the foothills of the Andes with unbeatable views of the Cotopaxi Volcano, the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is a family-run ranch accommodation steeped in history set on the site of a 15th Century Incan palace and a 16th Century monastery. Relics of the past are kept intact and rooms are adorned with extravagant murals, brightly-painted walls, carved woods and local textiles. Delicious home cooked fare featuring Andean specialities are served. 

Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, Cotopaxi

Termas de Papallacta is perched on a high Andean valley and is on the entrance route to the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle. The Termas de Papallacta resort, with its emphasis on being a spa resort, offers guests onsite health, recreation, adventure and rest. 

Termas de Papallacta, Papallacta Hot Springs

Hacienda Zuleta is a colonial working farm of 4,000 acres belonging to the family of Galo Plaza Lasso, ex-President of Ecuador for more than 100 years and chosen as one of the best Ecuador hotels by National Geographic Traveler. The hacienda has 14 tastefully-decorated rooms with fireplace and delicious home-styled Ecuadorian cuisine offers a gastronomic adventure of the finest. 

Hacienda Zuleta, Imbabura

Since its opening in 2011, Casa Gangotena has won many accolades and awards and included in Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List, Travel + Leisure amongst many. The boutique hotel is situated overlooking Plaza San Francisco harboring 31 rooms with eye-catching mix of classic architecture, contemporary interior design and modern comforts. 

Casa Gangotena, Quito

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