In The Saddle Festive Round-up: Christmas in Ecuador

Posted on December 23, 2021

Christmas in Ecuador

If you’ve always wondered what it might be like to spend Christmas on horseback in snowy Iceland, or sunny South Africa, then you might enjoy our next few blog posts. In the run-up to Christmas, we’ll be sharing how ride operators around the world usually spend the festive season.

Next up is Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador.

Hacienda Zuleta

In the Zuleta community, Christmas is all about family, religion, food and presents. Nothing is more joyous to them than sitting around the kitchen and reminiscing about past generation’s cooking and discussing who was the best chef. The next generation is producing new chefs in the family and slowly the older generation are relinquishing some of the duties to them. This is not without enthusiastic comments and some criticism, like in all families.

At Hacienda Zuleta Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, due to grandfather Galo Plaza (a former president of Ecuador)’s  practical decision not to clash with the events of the political families that usually celebrate Christmas on the 24th.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a family affair amongst the staff.  After attending to guests, the staff hurry home to greet their visiting family members; some will have travelled from the capital Quito, whilst others have travelled from as far as US, Spain and Italy.  Christmas is the time for families to reunite.

Christmas for the horses

The next generation with one of the Zuleta horses

The horses would be very happy to relax in the fields but at Hacienda Zuleta, the Christmas holidays are very busy.  Riding is one of guests’ favourite activities. The horses are rewarded with extra rations of dry feed, grass and some treats from the guests.

An example of a Zuleteño Western Type Saddle

Traditions for Hacienda Zuleta

The Ecuadorean families are full of traditions.  In the Zuleta community, Christmas is the time to eat guinea pig and a special drink called shampoo. This is not for your hair but a special egg recipe which is passed down the generations.

Turkey is the main dish for guests at Hacienda Zuleta. This is accompanied by green peas, stuffed rice with nuts and prunes, potatoes and lots of gravy. Continuing with the North American tradition, dessert is pecan pie.  For those who don’t like nuts, lemon pie is also served but you may have less competition for it.

 Most memorable Christmas

Hacienda Zuleta have told us that their most memorable Christmas, without doubt, was in 2020.  This gave them a very clear perspective of what is most important in life, mainly family and love.  Their hearts go out to families that have lost family members during this horrible pandemic. They experienced this personally when Martha, their reservations manager, lost her father, and mother, days apart and a few weeks before Christmas.

Many thanks to Fernando from Hacienda Zuleta for sharing this lovely insight into Christmas in Ecuador.

If you are interested in riding in Ecuador, then please do email us on or call +44 1299 272 997 for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *