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My Visit to Hacienda Santa Ana: Cotopaxi Ecuador [Land of Jesuits & Chagras]

Posted in: Ecuador Travel, Quito Ecuador

This is a post by Magali Ipina, a Canadian expat living in Quito, Ecuador. In this post, Magali shares the details of her family’s visit to Hacienda Santa Ana in Cotopaxi Ecuador.

Hacienda Santa Ana, Cotopaxi Ecuador

Hacienda Santa Ana: Land of the Jesuits and the Chagras

Imagine yourself thrown back in time to the 17th century.

The Jesuits settle in Ecuador, a country of high contrasts, in a virgin land that stretches from the Cotopaxi all the way to the jungle, 60,000 hectares of magnificent wilderness.

Hiking Cotopaxi area in Ecuador

The Jesuits find a beautiful valley at the foot of the volcano, in the midst of the Andes, surrounded by the Pasachoa, Sincholagua and Rumiñahui.

This location is the perfect spot to build a spiritual retreat, it is simply the obvious choice.

Years go by and the hold of the Jesuits in latin America becomes a little too strong for the liking of King Charles III of Spain. Worried he is losing control, he expels the Jesuits from Ecuador.

This is the story our host William, from Hacienda Santa Ana, tells us, while we sip a canelazo (a hot alcoholic typical drink of the Andean highlands of Ecuador) by a fireplace, in a room that remains perfectly true to its origins, centuries later.

Hacienda Santa Ana, Cotopaxi

Hacienda Santa Ana, Cotopaxi

After the Jesuits were expelled, the Hacienda and its land became the property of Antonio Ante, a leader of the Ecuadorian Independence and was later sold to wealthy families.

For my grand pleasure, the current owners have made it their mission to preserve the rich history of the place, using original stones from the demolished bullring to renovate the social areas and decorate it with their private collection of chasubles from that time.

The hand wall paintings in the rooms, using renaissance techniques, are other reminders of the history that the walls of the Hacienda bear.

I cozied up in a social area reading a book I never find the time to read, to lift my head and see my 9-year-old daughter walking away with Juan, another of our friendly host, and a basket full of carrots, heading towards a herd of horses peacefully eating pasture behind the Hacienda.

Family visiting Hacienda Santa Ana, Ecuador

Author’s family visiting the horses at Hacienda Santa Ana, Ecuador

Hacienda Santa Ana Cotopaxi Ecuador

More reading: Top 15 Things to do in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains

Surrounded by such amazing landscapes, it would be hard to get bored around here. Trekking and mountain biking are only a few of the activities available in the surroundings of Hacienda Santa Ana.

Since we were spending the weekend with our daughter and a few of her friends, we opted for the activities we felt were best suited for their liking.

Horseback Riding as Ecuadorian Chagras

For a few hours, we got to feel like the chagras, Ecuador’s native cowboys.

We slipped into zamarros (sheepskin chaps), a key element of the traditional riding attire of the chagras, very useful to protect our legs from scraping on bushes and from the cold wind of the high Andes.

Horseback riding in Cotopaxi Ecuador Trail riding horses in Ecuador

We put our riding helmets on, Chloé her beloved woolen poncho, and we were ready for adventure!

Horseback riding in the plains surrounding the Rumiñahui Volcano is an unforgettable experience for young and old alike.

What is a chagras in Ecuador?

A chagras is a cowboy in Ecuador. After the introduction of horses and cattle by the Spanish, landowners in the highlands became ranchers and cowboys.

Horseback riding Ecuador
Magali Ipina horseback riding in Ecuador

The author, Magali Ipina, horseback riding in Ecuador

After an exciting day full of adventure, we replenished at the Abadía restaurant with a hearty meal and a delicious variety of desserts made of local fruits such as guanábana (soursop), maracuyá (passion fruit) and babaco.

We started our next day with a short walk from the Hacienda to explore the local water source.

waterfall cotopaxi ecuador

Local water source

Artisanal Fishing in Ecuador

After that, we opted for an activity we had never done since in Ecuador: artisanal fishing!

With the guidance of Juan, who thought us how to bait the fish hook and assisted us with every successful catch, we managed to fish, both my daughter and I, 3 trout.

Fishing in Cotopaxi Ecuador

Fishing in Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Trout fishing in Cotopaxi Ecuador

Trout fishing in Cotopaxi Ecuador

Learn more about sweets in Ecuador in our post about 16 Ecuador desserts.

Chloé was extremely proud to be the one to catch the biggest one (and by far!). After a thrilling weekend, we left Hacienda Santa Ana with many great memories… and 3 fresh trout for our next meal in Quito!

Hacienda Santa Ana

Hacienda Santa Ana Ecuador

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

2 comments… add one
  • T.Ramachandran Sep 23, 2018, 2:49 am

    It seems a very nice place this I am eager to visit there but I don’t know when it will happen.

  • R M Gutierrez Sep 22, 2018, 1:49 pm

    South of Quito is the town of Machachi where you can watch the El Paseo del Chagra (parade of the cowboys) held annually in month of July. You’l enjoy the beautiful town and the parade itself that lasts for so many hours. We had fun memories there on top of our amazing experience at the Cotopaxi National Park ….Cotopaxi volcano is magnificent.

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