is a small village
in the beautiful highlands of Imbabura Province in Ecuador.
This agricultural area is famed for its traditional
embroidery, dairy products, alpaca farming and highland crops such as
wheat, maize, potatoes, lentils and quinoa. The village is
home to Hacienda Zuleta, a large farm once owned by an
ex-president of the country. Many people in Zuleta wear their
on a daily basis and the village is a tranquil
place. Attractions include the community
embroidery workshops and a good chance of seeing Andean condors in the
is an authentic working colonial farm and produces a range of crops
including wheat, barley and potatoes as well as trout and some
excellent cheeses. Hacienda Zuleta
has been owned by the family of a previous president of Ecuador, Galo
Plaza Lasso, for over a century and his descendents still own and run
the hacienda today. Part of the historic buildings, dating
to the 17th Century, are used for luxury boutique hotel accommodation
visitors are treated as guests of the family.
at Hacienda Zuleta enjoy
delicious food grown or produced on the farm served in an elegant and
tranquil setting. A log fire blazes in a
sitting area adorned with family photos and antiques. Service
impeccable and friendly. Activities include horseriding,
and mountain biking, or for the less-active, taking a carriage ride or
just admiring the beautiful mountain scenery. You can visit
cheese factory, trout ponds, dairy or embroidery cooperative.
Hacienda Zuleta is luxury tourism at its best, with prices to
match (around $250 per night). Note that the hacienda does
accept day visitors, the activities described here are for hotel guests
only. Fortunately, Zuleta cheese is available in supermarkets
all over the country - look for the fantastic, mature "Don Galo" cheese
in its black wax coating.
Galo Plaza's legacy also lives on through the foundation named after
him. Currently run by staff of the Hacienda Zuleta, the
projects include Zuleta's community library and
educational workshops, and sales support for the local women's
traditional Zuleta embroidery. President Galo Plaza's wife
Doña Rosario helped to revive the Zuleta embroidery
tradition back in the 1940's. The foundation also supports
the Condor Huasi Project
and breeds the endangered Andean condor with the aim of reintroducing
condors to the wild. Three young condors were released for the in
late 2016. There are believed to be fewer than 100
wild Andean condors left in Ecuador. At Zuleta, they put out
food for the wild condors which makes the area a great place to spot
this majestic bird in the wild.
Zuleta is amongst the most informed, educated and organised communities
in Ecuador, thanks to Hacienda Zuleta facilitating access to education.
This tradition of support for the local community started in
time of President Galo Plaza and continues still. The
are involved in and very supportive of the condor conservation project
in addition to their other activities of dairy farming, alpaca farming,
embroidery and agriculture.
community of Zuleta are also planning a small
community tourism project. So far they have constructed a
beautiful restaurant with rustic furniture made from reclaimed wood.
The hospitality side of the project is still in development,
but you can get in touch via the Zuleta
Website and ask about homestay
accommodation, which they can
arrange for around $10 a night.
páramo grasslands and forests of the Zuleta area are home to
wildlife including Andean condors, pumas, páramo foxes
Getting to Zuleta:
The bus journey from Ibarra
takes around an hour and costs $0.50. Alternatively, take a
bus to Zuleta from Cayambe
for $1 - the route goes through a very rural area and takes about an
hour and 20 minutes. Zuleta itself, and the bus route from
Ibarra to Cayambe, is one of the best areas of the country to see
traditional highland costumes.
Spanish Vocabulary for an excursion to Zuleta, Ecuador:
hacienda: large farm
The little hill village of Zuleta is famous for its embroidery, dairy
products and beautiful scenery.
Tourist accomodation is at
one end of the scale or the other - backpacker accommodation in family
homes in the community,
or luxury boutique hotel rooms in the historic
Hacienda Zuleta, a working colonial farm.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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