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Posted on December 10, 2018
In The Saddle guest Cilka visited Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador in June of this year. You can read all about her memorable trip here:
Cilka says, “Hacienda Zuleta is a very special place. Nestled in the Ecuadorian Andes, it is a hotel and working farm that dates back to the 1600’s. It is actually quite famous in Ecuador and everyone we met in Quito had heard of it. There is a dairy farm, cheese factory, and a Condor breeding facility. When we arrived, my friend and I were met by Santiago, who was our English speaking guide during our stay. He meet us every morning to plan the day’s ride, and came with us to translate and point things out along the way.
The hacienda has a herd of Zuleteño horses, which is a mix of Andalusian, Quarter horse, Peruvian Paso, and Thoroughbred. The horses are calm, well-trained, and very smooth to ride. I rode 4 different horses and loved them all. The saddles are Western style and while the horses are more used to neck reining, they will respond to two hands as well.
I found the horses to be very responsive and gentle – a slight squeeze was all you needed to get them moving! Their horses are not used to for working livestock anymore so they are trained by lifelong horsemen for pleasure riding only.
Our horseman, Jose, knew all the horses and trails like the back of his hand and we felt very safe with him. The pace is a mix between walking and long, controlled canters which were really fun. The rides lasted between 3-7 hours each day, so you will be satisfied at the end!
Some rides are up mountains where you can see gorgeous scenery, and some are through valleys and farms. Traveling through the local villages and farm land really gives you a sense of rural life in Ecuador – we saw people planting potatoes, ploughing a field, and hand-milking their cows.
The land around the Hacienda is fertile and the weather is very consistent, so everywhere you go you ride past flowers and streams and sometimes grass up the horses’ knees!
Besides the riding, the service and facilities at the Hacienda are outstanding. It’s historic, charming, and luxurious all at the same time. Meals are served at a large dining room table, and they are always 3 courses with a few options. Most of the food is locally sourced or grown right in their own garden.
Alcohol is not included, although you can purchase it. It was a lot of fun chatting with the guests, most of which had stories to tell from their adventure in the Galapagos or the Amazon. The rooms are very comfortable and they all have a working fireplace which they stock with a roaring fire while you are at dinner. The people who work at the Hacienda were all very nice and accommodating. After a long day of riding it was really nice to come back to a huge soft bed and a fireplace.
In summary, Hacienda Zuleta is a wonderful place to vacation in South America, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an exclusive, authentic riding trip!”
Many thanks to Cilka for this wonderful review of Hacienda Zuleta. We are really pleased that you enjoyed your adventure in Ecuador.