Touch the Sky

Haciendas Ecuador: (IT-ECSR03)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/ecuador_horseback_zuleta_touch_the_sky.aspx

Introduction
Haciendas Ecuador
Join us on a beautiful equestrian getaway in the highlands of Ecuador, your base at the historic and charming Hacienda Zuleta. Giving name to a whole valley and a small village, Zuleta is an excellent place for an intimate encounter with Andean culture and tradition. Upon stepping through its 16th century gates, you will feel as if you were traveling back in time. Situated in the pastoral Zuleta Valley, the hacienda is home to the most exclusive barn in Ecuador and combines excellent quality horses with outstanding service on a famous colonial hacienda. The five thousand acre estate is nestled 2 hours North of Quito in the Andes Mountains at 9,000 feet.

Throughout the many years, Zuleta has entertained presidents and their families, dignitaries and also celebrities, and therefore our staff knows how to truly make your stay unforgettable. Family recipe dishes made of farm fresh products, complimentary birthday surprises, your own personal favorite juice to start each morning, extra hot water bottle when nights are chilly and some fresh flowers on your picnic table – it is the little details that make you feel at home at Zuleta.

The vacation starts with a pick up from Quito, and on the way we can stop at the famous indigenous Otavalo market. The next five riding days are on board their top quality horses and are filled with exciting new sights and trails each day. Climb to the top of the volcanoes and ride through lush green valleys - the riding is only interrupted each day by the luxuriously set out lunches along the way. In the evening you come back to the historic hacienda and after a delicious organic meal we invite you to sit around the fireplace and talk about the excitements of your daily experiences.

Accomodation

Accommodations
This is a stationary ride, so all nights are spent at the same location.

Description
This beautiful estate is owned by the descendents of former Ecuadorian president, Galo Plaza. The hacienda offers all the comforts of a well-establish hotel. Here you are a guest of the Plaza family and you are welcomed as such.
The hacienda has 3 standard rooms, 11 deluxe rooms, and 7 junior suites. All rooms are located in the main building (dating back to 1691) and come with a fireplace as well as a private bath tub (with hair dryer and toiletries). Rooms are decorated with hand-embroidered linens and feature beautiful garden views. On cold nights, we provide you with a hot water bottle in your bed, to keep it warm. There is wireless internet in all rooms to keep you connected to the outside world, if you wish to.  
You will be invited to relax at your leisure in the cozy reading and living rooms, which have entertained their own entourage of famous visitors including past presidents and dignitaries. 

You can use our laundry service for an additional cost.



Standard Room (12-15 m²)
These rooms all come with a Queen size bed, a desk, chairs, a fireplace, a cupboard and luggage rack. No extra bed possible.



Deluxe Room (20 m²)
These rooms all come with a Queen size bed (or twin beds), a desk, chairs, a fireplace, a cupboard and luggage rack. An extra bed can be added.



Junior Suite (30 m²)
These rooms all come with a King size bed (or twin beds), a desk, chairs, a sofa, a fireplace, a cupboard and 2 large luggage racks. An extra bed can be added.

General Amenities of the Hacienda

  • Main Living Room (Information folders & books, Tea & coffee table, Fireplace and Honor Bar)
  • Library Living Room (Tea & coffee table,1.500 books in five languages, Fireplace and Winter garden with view to the stables)
  • Activity Room (Trail maps, Water bottle refilling station, Wellington boots,  Newsboard with recommendations, Direct TV and video library and Table games)
  • Hummingbird Patio (Sun chairs and sitting areas, Ten varieties of hummingbirds and Bar service)
  • Wellness Center (Sauna, Steam bath, Japanese bath & Massages) - extra cost
Room Occupancy
Single supplement is mandatory is we cannot find another rider to share.


Meals
All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on your last day.

As your dining experience unfolds; you will be impressed by the Hacienda’s sustainability. It is a self-sufficient farm, producing its own rainbow trout, organic vegetables, cheese, etc... Delicious snacks like banana cake, farm made cheeses, fresh juice or anything else you could think of are served in the living rooms all day long. The meals will be typical Ecuadorian "family" cuisine. Virtually everything gracing the table comes fresh from Zuleta’s rich earth and is carefully prepared by hand. Fresh milk and cream from Zuleta’s dairy cows are offered daily. Handmade cheeses are produced from the farm’s fresh milk and carefully crafted in the small factory near the guest house. Rainbow trout are caught moments before melting in your mouth. Freshly churned butter melts over warm bread baked from wheat harvested on the Hacienda. Fresh organic fruit and vegetables are picked from the expansive garden to make unforgettable salads and freshly squeezed juices.
In addition, gourmet picnic lunches with fine wine and cheeses are provided for all-day excursions.

Meals are served in the main family dining room where you will be able to meet members of the family and other guests; or if you prefer privacy, we can also arrange tables in a private dining hall.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to vegetarians if given prior notice.

 

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Terrain
Riders will have numerous opportunities to explore the Andean countryside along high altitude trails (between 9.000 and 13.000 feet) that wind through ‘páramo’ grasslands and cloud forest, along cobblestone trails and through local villages.

Horses
The Hacienda is known not only for its prize-winning pure Andalusians including national champions and precious stallions, but especially for its very own breed – the Zuleteño. The Hacienda was the first to bring purebred horses to Ecuador, starting with Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred and changing to Andalusians in the early 60s. The Zuleteño is a combination of those three breeds and known for its qualities as a very noble, gentle and versatile horse. The horses respond best to light, but clear signals. They are used to being ridden with a soft hand and slack in the reins. They are taught to neck rein.
Every horse is known for its specialties. Some have advanced training in dressage and Spanish riding, others in taking perfect care of small children,… You will be able to pick your favorite horse of the herd, for your whole stay, or just for the day´s activity.

Guides
You will be in safe hands with our knowledgeable, friendly local guides. All excursions are accompanied by a local guide, although an English speaking guide is also available. 

Itinerary

Sample-Itinerary - subject to changes

Note: These tours are just a sample of the many options we have. Please remember that pace, distance and destinations depend on you, almost everything is possible for us and our great horses.

Day 1: Arrival
You arrive in the afternoon after a drive through lush pasture lands. With some luck, you will have stunning views of the snowcapped volcano, Cayambe, which is just a few miles away. One of our hosts will welcome you personally upon arrival, and assist you with check in to your guest suite. Once settled, the herd will be waiting for you to choose your horse for the first ride and you will get the chance to try it in the ring at all paces. A bilingual riding instructor is available for your questions. After lunch, we will ride up to Santa Rosa, through forest and dense vegetation up to a view point from where you have an overview of the whole Zuleta valley. As we will be right above the Condor center and close to a feeding point, we will most likely see a wild condor fly by. Up here, you will also have the best bird’s eye view of the ancient pre-Incan Caranqui pyramids that are spread all over the property. The loop continues with beautiful vistas of mountain slopes painted by that special afternoon light, and maybe a family of spectacle bears or foxes will come to say hello. Leaving the forest, we will canter over a field with high grass, before we have to focus on our balance when the horse starts to climb down. Upon reaching flat grounds, with the barn at a short distance, the horses will volunteer a last gallop with some jumps over small ditches. A nice glass of wine in the living room, a roaring fire, comfortable sofas and a chat with your host will entertain you until dinner time.

Day 2-4 or 2-7: Riding Activities

Partake in half-day rides, combining two shorter rides or a longer trail. See trail examples below.

Day 5 or 8: Goodbye
After breakfast, we invite you to explore our organic garden, where you can learn about permaculture and see where the ingredients for our menu originate. You can explore the farm operation, feed baby calves, count sheep, talk to the vaqueros (local Cowboys), enjoy our embroidery shop, or relax in the garden before leaving for your next destination.

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Half Day Trail Ride Examples (included in package)

The Condor Project
Our most popular route is to the Condor Huasi Project facilities located in La Rinconada de San Pedro Valley. Here you can learn about Zuleta’s wildlife as well as our efforts to protect and nurture endangered condors and spectacled bears. We ride past the Hacienda’s pastures, milking sheds, and trout farm via pretty cobblestone roads. You will see many ancient Caranqui tolas – pyramids dating from before the Inca conquest. On the way back, you may choose to climb the highest ceremonial pyramid, which offers great views of the area. You may also see wild condors taking advantage of the high winds on the mountainside. The ride includes an hour-long talk, approximately, at the Condor Huasi facilities.
Estimated Time: 4 hours (including 1 hour talk approx.)
Difficulty Level: Easy
Minimum Age Requirement: 6 years
Suggested Departure Time: 10 AM or 2 PM
Elevation: 2,964-3,018 m / 9,724-9,901 ft


Zuleta Cultural Tour
For a more in-depth look at the history and culture of Zuleta, we take you through the village to an interesting house museum at the community’s highest point. Here you will find many well-preserved examples of Zuleta’s traditional farming, weaving, and cooking implements as well as weapons, fine leatherwork, and other interesting ephemera. If the weather permits, we will see stunning views of snow-capped Mount Cayambe and the surrounding landscape. On the way, we will also stop by the community’s famous embroidery shops where you can learn about this centuries-old art and purchase some lovely gifts later if you wish. The ride incorporates views of the cemetery, town hall, and church as well as some historic adobe-and-tile-roof houses. There is also an opportunity to see a local leather specialist who makes all of the Hacienda’s saddles and leatherwork. To take full advantage of this ride, we recommend taking a bilingual guide for an extra charge.
Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy

Minimum Age Requirement: 6-8 years
Suggested Departure Time: 8:30/9 AM or 2 PM
Elevation: 2,964-3,018 m / 9,724-9,901 ft

Uphill Riding
Stand on the shoulders of the mountains as we venture to the pinnacle of Santa Rosa. First, we climb winding paths, glimpsing the Hacienda through eucalyptus trees. We then pass a small reservoir and waterfall as we continue on to the high pastures where the entire valley opens up before us. On a clear day, we can see snowcapped volcanos Cayambe and Cotapaxi to the left in the distance, with Mount Imbabura towering across the vale. Further north, the mountains meander down beyond Angochagua and La Rinconada to the city of Ibarra, while behind us lies the mysterious wilderness of the Andean páramo. We circle round to the Vista Condor to catch magnificent views of La Rinconada de San Pedro Valley, with its condor facilities and Caranqui pyramids, before returning home through fragrant cypress and eucalyptus groves.
Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Minimum Age Requirement: 6-8 years
Suggested Departure Time: 8:30/9 AM or 2 PM
Elevation: 2,964-3,239m / 9,724-10,921 ft

Mount Cunrro
This ride gives us a chance to see a different side of the Zuleta valley. We leave from the main gate, passing through the village, then climb through pastures and fields towards Mount Cunrro, an extinct volcano. If weather permits, we may see behind us the glorious Mount Cayambe, a snowy peak with an elevation of 5,790 masl (almost 19,000 ft!). Cunrro dominates this side of the valley – a vast, conical hill jutting from the foot of Mount Imbabura and surrounded by woodland at its base. We pass through cool eucalyptus groves and, at the summit, enjoy views of Zuleta’s green, furrowed mountains stretching all the way from the Hacienda through to Angochagua and towards Ibarra. After a short rest, we descend back to the village and return to the Hacienda.
Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Minimum Age Requirement: 6-8 years
Suggested Departure Time: 8:30/9 AM or 2 PM
Elevation: 2,964-3,300 m/ 9,724-10,826 ft

Angochagua Cultural Ride
We head north of the property, past Rosario’s milking sheds and verdant fields, where we can take a quick detour to the waterfall if you wish. At the Hacienda’s limits, we reach a road leading to the picturesque farming community of Angochagua, nestled in a crook of the mountains. Following a stream, we visit the Andean home of Fernando Colimba, a native of the area, who built the classic adobe and thatched roof property as a house museum to preserve his local culture. Here he demonstrates age-old techniques for grinding corn and spinning wool and shows us old artifacts from the area’s agricultural past. We return, riding up the shoulder of Mount Cunrro and through the community to see these old farming ways in action. Please tell your host in advance if you wish to do this ride so that we can arrange for the museum to be open. An English-speaking guide is advised but not absolutely necessary.
Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Minimum Age Required: 6-8 years
Suggested Departure Time: 8:30/9 AM or 2 PM
Elevation: 2,964-3,100 m / 9,724-10,170 ft 

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Full Day Rides (available at added costs)
- The Condor, Community, and Waterfall Ride (5+ hours)
- Ride to Mount Cubilche (5+ hours)
- Lake View Ride (6-7 hours)
- La Chimba and Indigenous History Ride (6-7 hours)
- Angochagua and La Rinconada Cultural Ride (6-7 hours)
- Hacienda to Hacienda - Zuleta to Cusin (6-7 hours)
- Ventana Grande (6-7 hours)
- The Towers (6 hours)
- The Ventanas Loop (12 hours)
- Páramo Cusin (6-7 hours)

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Non Riding Activities (included in program)
• Condor Rehabilitation Center and flying condor viewpoint (unique in Ecuador!); without guide.
• Extensive gardens and pond (with a host).
• Chapel (with a host).
• 60 km of self-guided trails (without guide).
• Visit to the community and to different sites of interest including embroidery stores, saddle factories, museums, etc. (without guide).
• 14th century Caranqui archeological pyramids (without guide).
• 1,700 hectares Hacienda grounds and farm operations: cheese museum, organic vegetable garden, worm farm, milking sheds, trout farm (with a host).
• Foundation´s involvement: Community library and embroidery shop (with a host). 

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Other activities with added cost (please inquire for rates):
• Riding lessons (beginners)
• Special programs with children: horse care
• Rides in the horse drawn carriage
• Embroidery lessons
• Cooking lesson
• Guided bird and condor watching
• Private milking lessons
• Guided excursions
• Guided Tour of the colonial city of Ibarra and the Otavalo Indian Market.
• Bike rental
• Massages


Rates and Dates for Touch the Sky

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals, Spanish speaking guide, Riding days according to program (half day trails) & Taxes
Non Riding Activities (without guides): Condor Rehabilitation, hiking, 14th century Caranqui archeological pyramids & viist to local community (embroidery stores, saddle factories...)
Helmets, half chaps, rain ponchos, and a saddle bag can be provided

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    20208 day trip, AP- Standard Room$3085
    • Child 6-12 yrs$1545
  • B
    20208 day trip, AP- Deluxe Room$3935
    • Child 6-12 yrs$1965
  • C
    20208 day trip, AP- Junior Suite$4440
    • Child 6-12 yrs$2220
  • D
    20205 day trip, AP- Standard Room$1700
    • Child 6-12 yrs$850
  • E
    20205 day trip, AP- Deluxe Room$2185
    • Child 6-12 yrs$1095
  • F
    20205 day trip, AP- Junior Suite$2475
    • Child 6-12 yrs$1235
Minimum Deposit: ~$50.00 per person

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionUS$
2020 Single supplement +30% $0
2020 Transfers from Quito each way (with guide), pp $180
2020 Transfers from Quito each way (without guide) $110
2020 Upgrade to full day ride (~5 hours riding) with packed lunch, per day, pp $105
2020 December 24th Holiday Supplement, pp $60
2020 December 31st Holiday Supplement, pp $60
2020 English speaking guide additional cost -- please ask $0

Season Seasons  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 01/01 - 12/31 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Standard Roo... 2 /10 Reserve
B 2020 01/01 - 12/31 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Deluxe Room 2 /10 Reserve
C 2020 01/01 - 12/31 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Junior Suite 2 /10 Reserve
D 2020 01/01 - 12/31 5d / 4n 5 day trip, AP- Standard Roo... 2 /10 Reserve
E 2020 01/01 - 12/31 5d / 4n 5 day trip, AP- Deluxe Room 2 /10 Reserve
F 2020 01/01 - 12/31 5d / 4n 5 day trip, AP- Junior Suite 2 /10 Reserve

Dates Note: Arrival can be any day of the week.

Rates do not include:

Alcoholic beverages, Gratuities, Riding lessons and additional riding (full day trails) & English speaking guide
Non Riding Activities: Embroidery lessons, cooking lesson, guided bird and condor watching, private milking lessons, guided excursions, bike rentals & massages

Note:

Due to COVID-19 Corona virus pandemic and certain travel restrictions we are applying some temporary policy changes to some of our tours.

For Touch the Sky Trail (IT-ECSR03):


Booking policies:
• All reservations shall be guaranteed 30 days before the scheduled arrival.
• The reprogramming option will be available up to 12 months after the scheduled Dates (no extra fee when postponing to 2021).
• In case of a reprogramming for the year 2022, an adjustment in the rates would apply.

Our employees and collaborators will be informed and trained about the guidelines that are detailed as below.

General information:
1.- The hacienda will have information about measures to prevent COVID-19 infections,
in English and Spanish. This will be allocated in all the required areas: rooms, lounges,
dining room, stables, staff areas, etc.
2.- Guests/Clients will be briefed about the biosafety measures in place.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) management:
1.- The hacienda will provide guests/clients and staff with surgical masks and hand sanitizer.
2.- Depending on the workstation, the staff will be given the following PPE:
• Kitchen staff: they will be provided masks, headwear and goggles.
• Housekeeping staff: they will be provided coveralls, masks, gloves and goggles.
• Waiting staff, guides and hosts: they will be provided masks and googles.
• Other areas staff: they will be provided masks.
• Washing uniforms once per day, for the staff that is mostly in contact with guests, is highly recommended.

Physical distance control measures:
1.- The hacienda’s house has plenty of social areas like kitchens and dining rooms to allocate guests/clients per family group, so they won´t have to share with unknown people.
2.- Before starting with the cleaning and lighting of chimneys, the staff will wait until the guest has left the room.

Arrival and check in for guests:
1.- Manage a digital guest´s registration.
2.- Request the guest to fill the symptoms questionnaire out.
2.- Verify that guests/clients are properly wearing their masks.
3.- Take the guests/clients’ temperature.
4.- Disinfect guests/clients’ luggage before entering it into the premises.
5.- Alcohol and disinfection wipes will be available for cell phone disinfection.
6.- Make sure that the Host, in charge of the party, wears the PPE in a proper manner.
7.- The room´s keys shall be disinfected, before the check in and after the check out.
8.- Monetary transactions shall preferably done by card. If payments in cash are inevitable, these bills and coins shall be disinfected.
9.- The host, in charge of the party, shall inform and head the family group to their allocated zone. This shall include a reminder of not entering into other areas of the house.

Safe food handling:
1. At the beginning of operations, working tables, utensils and floors shall be disinfected. These disinfections shall be done every two hours, and before and after each food srvice.
2.- The cooks shall wash their hands every 40 minutes.
3.- Free access to the kitchen is forbidden for people that don’t belong to the kitchen staff. If entrance is required due to force majeure, the compliance of the PPE measures is mandatory.
4.- The staff shall wear masks and use hand sanitizer with each service.
5.- Alcohol based hand sanitizer (70% alcohol) shall be available at the entrance of the dining room.
6.- Table linen shall be used just once, afterwards they shall be washed.
7.- Ventilate lounges, dining rooms and other social areas after each service.
8.- The guests/clients will occupy lounges and dining rooms, isolating them from other guests/clients. If the use of communal areas is needed, this shall be done respecting a two-meter physical distancing.
9.- The use of printed menus shall be avoided.
10.- Bars and self-service stations will be eliminated. Guests shall ask for these additional services to the waiting staff.

For horse-riding, trekking and biking equipment, all  used articles and equipment (walking sticks, bikes, saddles, water bottles, etc.) shall be cleaned before delivering them to guests, and after their usage.

Protocol in case of occurrence of COVID-19 symptoms in guests or employees:
• In case of having a guest that presents any COVID-19 symptom, the guest shall be isolated in one room that has ventilation. It preferably needs to a have an
independent access located far from other rooms and social areas (e.g. María José or Oswaldo).
• Inform the local health care facility or use official channels dialling 171 or 911.
• In case of receiving an employee that presents symptoms, the person shall be sent to the local health care facility.
• Activate disinfection protocols.
• Once a diagnosis is confirmed, other employees that have been in contact with the infected shall be tested and isolated.


For more information please visit our COVID-19 Updates page at https://www.hiddentrails.com/article/covid19update.aspx

Other Info
Meeting: Zuleta
Airport: Quito
Transfer: Quito

Climate:
                                            Quito area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

66

66

66

66

66

67

67

68

68

67

67

66

Average Low Temperature (°F)

49

49

49

49

49

48

47

48

47

48

48

48

Average High Temperature (°C)

19

19

19

19

19

19

19

20

20

20

19

19

Average Low Temperature (°C)

9

10

9

10

9

9

8

9

9

9

9

9

Source: NOAA


Seasons
The hacienda is located in the highlands of Ecuador and enjoys a temperate Andean climate with temperatures ranging from the mid 50°F to the low 70°F. Therefore, there is never a bad time to visit, even though the nights can get chilly all year-round.

Generally speaking, the drier months are from June to September, the wettest from January to May, also October. During the rainy season, rain usually comes in the late afternoon while the mornings are dry.  June to September are the hottest, driest months with the clearest skies in the northern part of the Sierra.

Important to Bring: Lightweight fleece jacket or wool jumper, thermals, gloves and hat are useful for high altitudes and colder temperatures. A rain jacket and sturdy boots are also recommended especially if undertaking hiking and trekking.

What To Bring:
In most parts of the Andes, you can experience all four seasons in one day. Be prepared for cold nights and cold rain if you're caught outside. Warm, fast drying clothes are recommended (synthetics and wool are good, but avoid cotton, especially directly against the skin).
Since you will be riding at elevations between 9.000 and 13.000 feet, light warm clothing worn in layers is highly recommended. Ponchos in case of rain will be provided.
We encourage all riders to wear a helmet and chaps (which we can provide). Ponchos in case of rain will be provided.

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Riding pants/breeches
Riding boots (short) + Minichaps
Wool sweater       
Long sleeved shirts    
Riding helmet  (recommended for all trips)
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strip)
Wind breaker    

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Jeans
Shorts
Underwear and socks
Pajama
Trekking boots/ comfortable shoes
Swimsuit
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for the emergency)
Sewing kit
Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and enough extra films and batteries
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm