Are you looking for a family vacation in a hacienda in Ecuador? Do you want to wake up to birds chirping, teach your children about Ecuadorian history, and enjoy local cuisine? In this blog, you’ll find the top 5 recommendations of the best haciendas in Ecuador for a weekend getaway!
Hello! I’m Rebecca, founder of Rebecca Adventure Travel. Since I became a mother, my traveling habits changed completely. That’s why, today I want to share with you my experiences as a traveling family at authentic haciendas around Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
When I plan my family travels to an Ecuadorian hacienda, I take into consideration my kids’ needs in order to make sure the getaway is one for the memory books! For example, I think about:
- Family-friendly rooms and menus.
- Family activities in nature.
- Closeness to tourist attractions.
Traveling can be a family experience
I’ve been a traveler my whole life. I grew up in Zutphen, a city in the Netherlands. I came to Ecuador in 2014 because I was looking for a non-traditional experience in an unknown country for me. Since then, I’ve been touring around Ecuador, learning about this beautiful country, and falling in love with its culture with every trip. Now, I have two children, José Miguel and Sophie, who are travelers just like me and my husband, Andrés!
I’m confident that traveling with kids is an amazing way to boost their development. It expands their world: helping them to adapt to changes, make instant decisions and create meaningful relationships with new people. As a family, we like to embrace every opportunity we have, and organize getaway trips around Ecuador. Even so, since José Miguel and Sophie were babies, they’ve enjoyed new experiences in hotels and haciendas around Ecuador.
If you’re like me, and you want to discover Ecuador with your kids or your friends, find out more about family weekend getaways in the best haciendas in Ecuador!
Haciendas in the Andes are beautiful places for a weekend getaway
To start, I want to take you through a brief history of the haciendas in Ecuador. First, you need to know that the hacienda route is also the path of mountains and volcanoes. Haciendas in the Andes are surrounded by yellow, green, and brown landscapes. Tourists can admire some stunning volcanoes along the route, such as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Imbabura, and Cayambe, among others. Second, in this list, you’ll find high-end luxury haciendas, as well as adventurous and cultural hotels. I want to inspire you to learn about Ecuador through the eyes of toddlers!
Visit haciendas in Ecuador and trace its historical colonial past
Haciendas are a testimony of colonial history in the Ecuadorian Andes. They were founded by Spaniards conquistadors who came to South America. The Spanish crown gave conquerors large areas of land in return for their services. Moreover, the term hacienda comes from the Spanish verb haciendo, or “the act of making things.”
In Ecuador, haciendas are big country houses that were initially created as estates or large farms. However, over the years, many were transformed into beautiful hotels. They are colonial homesteads in rural areas that show the country’s architectural and cultural heritage. Staying at a hacienda is a must for tourists who enjoy adventure experiences in the Andes.
A brief history of the colonial hacienda system
Spaniards settlers appreciated that the Andes had rich volcanic soil. Even so, landowners, or hacendados, took advantage of the land for productive activities such as agriculture, farming, and textile production, among others.
Haciendas became almost small towns unto themselves. Even after the collapse of the colonial system in the 19th century, haciendas in Ecuador remained as large business enterprises.
Most haciendas were passed down from generation to generation, remaining in the same families for centuries. However, over time, they became too expensive to operate. As a result, many opened their doors as beautiful hotels.
Haciendas in Ecuador are luxury hotels
Haciendas in the Andes are, without a doubt, part of the best hotels and destinations in Ecuador. Uniquely, many of them remain in excellent condition thanks to important renovations carried out over the years. When you visit Ecuador, make sure to book a tour that includes a hacienda! You’ll be able to enjoy nature as well as culture and tradition.
Ecuador is a top tourist destination
Ecuador is a very interesting destination. First, you have 4 geographic regions in a relatively small country. For example, it’s slightly smaller than the state of Nevada, in the United States, or Italy. However, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It has the 6,1% of all species reported worldwide, according to the Biodiversity Finance Initiative. Secondly, the country has 5 Unesco World Heritage Sites:
- Quito: The city possesses one of the best-preserved historic centers in South America.
- Cuenca: The Historic Center is an example of Renaissance urban planning in the Americas.
- Andean Road System: The Inca road system, also known as Qhapaq Ñan, is an extensive communication, trade, and defense network of roads. It covers more than 30,0000 km (18.000 miles).
- Galapagos Islands: The archipelago is a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution.’
- Sangay National Park: This reserve has two active volcanoes. It includes glacial and volcanic ecosystems.
Finally, Ecuador is a great destination for every kind of traveler. Furthermore, the country offers amazing options for families who like to travel together.
Haciendas offer a family experience!
Staying at a hacienda in the Andes is one of the best ways to enjoy Ecuadorian culture. While touring old houses converted into luxury hotels, families can enjoy:
- Epic landscapes for outdoor adventures such as biking, horseback riding, swimming, hiking, and others.
- Restaurants with delicious Ecuadorian food.
- Spectacular rural landscapes with stories dating back to the colonial era.
Top 5 haciendas near Quito
1. Hacienda Chorlavi
Legend has it that centuries ago, the great Inca Huayna Capac fell in love with princess Caranqui Pacha in the land where Hacienda Chorlavi was built. As a result, Chorlavi means “nest of love.” It became a hotel in 1971.
When I visited Hacienda Chorlavi with my family, we enjoyed the mix of a modern hotel and a comfortable hacienda. For instance, families can stay in historic rooms that are beautifully decorated. Also, kids can play in its lovely gardens and orchards. I recommend Hacienda Chorlavi because it’s a great place to stay with kids. Its main highlights are:
- Big racetrack and playgrounds.
- Indoor jacuzzi and outdoor swimming pool.
- Delicious food for kids (good children’s meals and not the typical french fries!).
Further, Hacienda Chorlavi is located on the Pan-American Highway, only 4.8 km (2.9 miles) from the city of Ibarra. It’s approximately a 2h30m drive from Quito. Moreover, the trip is very nice because you’ll be able to see Lake San Pablo, pass the town of Cayambe (and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see Cayambe volcano), and go through the Guayllabamba valley.
Likewise, Hacienda Chorlavi is very close to the Otavalo Market. Did you know that Otavalo Market is the largest of its kind in South America? In the market, you can find textiles, jewelry, souvenirs, and street food.
Otavalo Market, also known as Plaza de los Ponchos, is a prime tourist destination in Ecuador. I love to travel to Otavalo because you meet talented craftsmen and women that have been weaving since pre-Inca times. You’ll be able to find authentic and traditional products such as blankets, hammocks, ponchos, and others.
2. Hacienda Piman
Hacienda Piman is one of Ecuador’s best–hidden treasures. Tucked in the Imbabura volcano range, the hacienda is a historic hotel that has remained in the same family since the 1680s. Very close to the city of Ibarra, Piman is a traditional hacienda where you can find stories and anecdotes throughout its traditional house. For example, the owners of Piman had traditionally been writers and poets. Even so, Gonzalo Zaldumbide wrote the novel Égloga trágica (Tragic eclogue) in Piman.
During my visit, I enjoyed Piman very much. My kids loved the place and we were able to rest as well as have fun. Also, it’s pet-friendly, so we were able to enjoy the hacienda with our dog, Lotti. Its main highlights are:
- Electric mountain bikes are available for a ride around the property.
- Nice swimming pool and spa. Due to the low altitude, 6.500ft (1981m) above sea level, the pool isn’t cold at night.
- Beautiful, very spacious, and clean rooms with big terraces. Excellent for kids!
Piman is a 2-hour drive from Quito. It’s located in an area that’s characterized by having a variety of more than 50 types of birds. In this idyllic place, families can appreciate colorful hummingbirds, eagles, and owls.
3. Hacienda Santa Ana
The majestic Cotopaxi volcano looks after families who visit Hacienda Santa Ana. The stunning Andean scenery is a place full of history, comfort, and adventure.
We had a lovely weekend getaway in Santa Ana. The hacienda highlights are:
- I loved the cozy fireplaces and the culture around the hacienda. I really liked that when I sat at the fireplace in the afternoon, I drank a hot canelazo (a local Ecuadorian drink). Also, a friendly receptionist explained the history of the property.
- They have lovely horses for a horseback riding trip. Their equipment is in very good condition and the horses are sweet for kids. Jose Miguel and Andrés went for a 1-hour ride and they enjoyed it a lot!
- Close to the Northern Entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park.
After a 1h30m drive from Quito, tourists can enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, horseback riding, and hiking, among others.
Likewise, its closeness to the Cotopaxi volcano is one of its best attractions. However, its high altitude, about 3500m (114ft) above sea level, makes it cold at night and has a high chance of rain in the afternoons.
4. Hacienda Cusin
Nobody really knows where the name of Hacienda Cusin came from. The first theory is that centuries ago, Cusin was a Caranqui (pre-Inca people who lived in the northern part of Ecuador) who confronted the Incas. Legend has it that Cusin fought bravely for his people, becoming a hero among the local indigenous community. The second theory is that the name comes from an edible beetle that can be found on Cusin’s mountain.
I found the hacienda to be very charming, colorful, and romantic. The colonial-style house has a 400-year-old history. In addition, tourists can enjoy artfully decorated rooms, salons, and suites. Cusin’s main highlights are:
- Big hacienda with lots of rooms, small squares, gardens, living rooms, etc.
- The hacienda’s history goes back to 1620.
- Perfect location: close to Otavalo Market and San Pablo Lake.
- A variety of activities for families: horseback riding, mountain biking, birdwatching, and cooking classes, among others.
The Imbabura volcano can be admired from the hacienda. Its great location gives the family an opportunity to visit other tourist attractions like Condor Park and Cochasqui Pyramids. Furthermore, it’s very close to the capital: a 1h30m drive from the Quito Airport.
5. Hacienda Jimenita
If your family likes nature and adventure, Hacienda Jimenita is the best option for you. The hotel is elegant and rustic. It’s a private oasis with private trails and a 360 experience of the Chiche River cliff. Also, it’s a sanctuary for more than 90 different species of birds.
I recommend Hacienda Jimenita because my kids loved to feed the llamas! Moreover, we enjoyed:
- The mysterious pre-Inca tunnel and its tour in the dark!
- The swing over the Chiche cliff is a nice place for children to feel some adrenaline rush.
- The food is delicious. Therefore, it’s a great place for a Sunday lunch with the family!
- The hotel is aligned with responsible tourism and sustainability objectives, same as Rebecca Adventure Travel.
Hacienda Jimenita is 15 minutes away from the Quito Airport. Likewise, its proximity allows tourists to take advantage of tours in the city, such as:
Families can enjoy the best haciendas in Ecuador very close to Quito. Moreover, family travels are very enriching and you’ll cherish those memories forever! If this blog has helped you plan your family weekend getaway to a hacienda, contact us and one of our Destination Experts will be happy to help you.
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