This is a guest 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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 trouts.
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 week-end, we left Hacienda Santa Ana with many great memories… and 3 fresh trout for our next meal in Quito!
Hacienda Santa Ana
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.santaanacotopaxi.com
- Tel: 0999738569