Mpala Jena Camp

Hacienda Cusin is a playground for the worldly-wise, an asymmetric daydream of nooks and crannies, oddities and marvels to explore and to spark curiosity. Here is a place to contemplate life in a bubble of unusual peace. With its roaring fires, sumptuous tapestries, louche saints and antiques, the restored 19th-century former home of a successful hacienda owner is itself a collection of the culture, art and people of the Andes. The history of this Otavalo hacienda is faithfully revered yet playfully reimagined with mischievous touches; look closely and you’ll find a Beatrix Potter garden cottage, a Bond villain’s secret door, and politicians painted into an indigenous mural. Just like the tapestries hanging in the Salón Simón Bolívar, Hacienda Cusin’s history is finely woven with threads of diverse epochs, cultures and personalities. Purchased at an auction from Philip III, King of Spain, at the Escorial Palace, by the prominent Luna family in 1602, the original sheep farm and wool business comprised of two valleys and all the land between them and the lake – some 100,000 acres. Just a 90 minute drive, north of Quito, Hacienda Cusin is indeed a peaceful escape as well as an adventure wonderland.

This restored 17-century Hacienda near Otavalo is ideal for couples, families, friends and special events. Every guestroom, cottage or suite sparks curiosity. 

Sierra Guestrooms

Distributed around the Hacienda and El Monasterio, these rooms are ideal for travelers or couples exploring the region, with plenty of curiosities and cozy touches. Whimsically decorated with woven bedspreads and locally-crafted or antique decorations, the Sierra Rooms can accommodate friends or families with ease. Most have fireplaces.

Guest Cottages

Nestled within enclaves in beautiful settings amid our landscaped gardens, the cottages are delightfully private, each with their own fireplace and king-size bed.

Hacienda Cusin Suites

The suites have multiple sleeping and/or living spaces, fireplaces and private bathrooms. They’re furnished with fine crafts and antiques.

The Andean Sierra of Imbabura Province in which Hacienda Cusin is located is ripe for discovery and exploration. It’s home to the famous Otavalo markets, magnificent volcanoes, serene lakes and fascinating indigenous culture. But you don’t even have to leave the hotel for an adventure, whether you relish sports and games or more intellectual pursuits – with Spanish classes, art, books and perennial gardens to enjoy at your leisure.

Garden Walks

Take a moment to explore the five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, where the myriad plants and flowers – bougainvillaea, jasmine, agapanthus, hydrangeas, begonias, poppies, geraniums, dahlias, primroses, orchids, magnolia, Aztec lilies… – grow throughout the year, thanks to the consistent equatorial climate and rich soils that were once covered in lakes created by melted snow. With its backdrop of the neighbouring, 15,000-feet high Imbabura, our gardens are a true sanctuary of trees, cobblestone paths, ponds, patios and chairs placed just so.

Horseback Riding & Farm

To ride horseback around the mountains and valleys surrounding the hacienda is to traverse them the way many a visitor to Cusin has for centuries’ past. The romance and drama of the scenery is heightened astride one of our handsome palfry horses. Starting at an hour long, there are over six trails to explore with a guide, riding on comfortable, Western-style saddles. Helmets must be worn.I t’s fitting that where sheep once roamed across the hacienda’s hills today llamas, peacocks, geese and turkeys ramble. Children will be thrilled to visit the guinea pigs and rabbits, take carrots to the resting horses, and learn about the care of such benevolent beasts.

Mountain Biking

The relief and geography of the landscapes surrounding the grounds and the San Pablo lake make for enjoyable riding country. Take our well-maintained bikes out for a spin to appreciate the area from ground level, over short or long trails. Helmets must be worn.

Games & Sports

Rain or shine, there’s a game or sport at Hacienda Cusin to be played – whatever your talent and ability. Squash, basketball and volleyball courts are located in the gardens while the games room houses ping-pong, a pool table and a darts board – ideal for when the after dinner competitive streak sets in (or indeed an afternoon drizzle).

Classes

Spanish Classes - Ecuadorian Spanish is regarded among the clearest and purest in the Spanish-speaking world – where better to learn or brush up on the language than in the inspiring surroundings of a historic hacienda? Spanish classes with us are private and tailor-made, enriching any stay in the Andean highlands.

Cooking Classes - The popular cooking classes can be organized with our talented team of chefs. We’ll get started learning how to make traditional ‘wind empanadas’ (turnovers filled with cheese and raisins) followed by cooking a delicious trout fillet with vegetables inside an aluminum foil papillote. Other recipes can be requested, too.

Birdwatching

In the lush and exuberant year-round flowering gardens of the hacienda flit more than 50 species of birds, with vermilion flycatchers, fan-tailed hawks, owls tropical hummingbirds and the eye-catching northern yellow grosbeak sure to elicit a gasp of wonder. Use our bird list to check off the species you spot while birdwatching at Hacienda Cusin, and let us know if there are any we have missed out!

Market Tours

The town of Otavalo’s fame has grown over the last decades to become one of the most popular visits in Ecuador. The reason? The Otavaleños’ textile weavings and the market where they are sold and bought. This market has grown over the years to encompass all sorts of crafts, where visitors can enjoy ambling among the stalls and admiring (and haggling over) the wares.

Markets:

Early on Saturday morning, the Otavalo livestock market takes place in fields to the northwest of the town. It’s a fun and curious spectacle to visit, although it’s unlikely you’ll be taking any of the beasts home. The textiles and crafts market is held in the Plaza de los Ponchos in town every day. On Saturdays, stalls extend to all the surrounding streets.

A few blocks from both Otavalo’s main square and the Plaza de los Ponchos, explore the fruit, vegetable and food courts of the town’s municipal market.

Condor Park

Located on a prominent hill that affords sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, the Parque Cóndor is a sanctuary for Ecuador’s most regal bird, as well as a varied assortment of raptors, including owls, eagles and falcons. The great majority of the birds have been rescued from captivity or injury. The park seeks to promote the protection of endangered species through hands-on environmental education. Falconry exhibitions are organized most days, a great activity for children and families.

Train Rides

Ecuador’s restored railway runs north from close to Hacienda Cusin. The Ecuadorian Railway Company offers options with bilingual guides for travellers wishing to discover more of the country, which can then be combined with our transport and guides. The northern route winds its way from the provincial capital of Ibarra to Salinas, passing from Andean ecosystems to the drier lands of the sub-tropical Chota valley, through seven tunnels and over bridges elevated across precipitous canyons.

Walks & Hikes

The nine walks and hikes (of varying length and difficulty) starting out from the hacienda traverse beautiful lakes, serene slopes, dramatic canyons and romantic valleys, exposing you to the purest air and an enchanting ambience. Maps for the Otavalo hiking routes including Gualaví, Imbabura, Mojanda, Quebrada, Rinconada, Cubilche, Lago Cuicocha and Zuleta can be found in Reception.

Mountain Climbing

Accompanied by a guide, hikers and climbers in good physical shape can ascend some of the most awe-inspiring slopes in the region. Easy peaks include El Lechero and Cubilche, while Mojanda, Fuyafuya, Cotacachi and Imbabura are more demanding. For a snow-capped challenge, Cayambe rises 5,790 m (19,000 feet) to the southeast of Cusin.

Family Adventure - 5 days/4 nights

Explore the Ecuadorian Andes and cloud forest over the course of five days. Combine culture, nature, fun and adventure with this family-friendly itinerary. Visit ancient ruins, an animal rescue center, beautiful Andean valleys and the nearby cloud forest area of Intag, where tropical butterflies and hummingbirds await!

Day 1 - Explore the Zuleta valley by horseback starting from Hacienda Zuleta and following the Condor ́s Path, where you might spot Andean Condors, as well as visit the archaeological ruins of the Caranqui culture. Put your trout fishing skills to the test at a trout farm and enjoy a picnic lunch prepared by Hacienda Cusín.

Day 2 - If you weren’t able to spot condors in Zuleta, you can see them up close at Parque Condor, as well as other rescued birds of prey like hawks, owls and vultures. Try to make it to their falconry show 11.30 am or 3.30 pm. Stop by Ñanda Mañachi, an instrument making workshop led by José Luis Pichamba where you and the kids can learn to make basic panflutes.

Day 3 - Depart Cusín for Andrade Marín in Atuntaqui to explore a textile museum before boarding the “Tren de la Libertad I” (Freedom Train) north towards Ibarra, passing through through seven man-made tunnels and bridges spanning steep canyons, ending at the tropical town of Salinas. There, you can appreciate the history, culture and cuisine of Afro-Ecuadorian communities before heading back to Cusín in the afternoon.

Day 4 - Depart Cusin and travel by private car to Intag via Cotacachi. Stop by Cuicocha caldera and crater lake for a short hike before continuing to Intag. As the elevation drops to 6,000 feet, you’ll begin entering one of Ecuador’s most diverse cloud-forest habitats, home to 15-17% of the planet’s plant species, and almost 20% of its birds. Lunch on arrival. Explore this mountain retreat’s forest. Dinner. Night walk, spotting extraordinary nocturnal creatures and listening to the bewitching sounds of the forest. Overnight stay at: El Refugio Intag Cloud Forest Lodge.

Day 5 - Early hike through the trails running through El Refugio Intag Cloud Forest to spot birds and other wildlife, fish for trout in the river, experience Ecuador’s longest zipline from the pre-Inca archaeological site of Wariman, visit the nearby town of Apuela on market day or stop by the Nangulvi Thermal Springs for a relaxing dip. Needless to say, you won’t run out of things to do here. Finally, return to Cusín, where cozy log fires, splendid dinners and in-room massages await.