At Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, enjoy the most incredible hotel near Cotopaxi Volcano on your Ecuador tour. This hotel offers trekking Tours, Indian Markets and authentic Andean food.
One and a quarter hours from Quito, capital of Ecuador, stands the beautiful and little known colonial Hacienda of San Agustín de Callo. Built on the site of an Inca palace, one of the two most important archaeological Inca sites in Ecuador, and the point furthest north from Cuzco of Imperial style construction, this working farm offers an unrivaled glimpse into Ecuador's rich and colorful past. Since the 15th century San Agustin de Callo has served as Inca fortress, Augustinian convent and temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission whose scientific results helped to determine the true shape of the planet. Famous visitors include Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa who were appointed by the King of Spain to host the Geodesic Mission in 1736, the awesome scientific enterprise organized and led by Charles-Marie de la Condamine; Alexander von Humboldt German scientist and renowned naturalist and explorer and the illustrious English mountain climber Edward Whymper.
“Cotopaxi's shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow which shines so brilliantly at sunset it seems detached from the azure of the sky.” Alexander von Humboldt, 1820
The varied and influential inhabitants of San Agustín de Callo have contributed to the unique blend of architecture which creates the individual character of the house. In the main courtyard it is possible to see three distinct styles, Inca (Imperial style – 15th century, construction style which the Incas used for their temples and palaces), Spanish Colonial (18th century) and Republican (19th century). The Hacienda has been written about by the famous chronicler Cieza de León (1536). This Inca Palace or temple was built by Tupac-Yupanqui (Inca Emperor) or Huayna-Capac in the 15th century. San Agustin de Callo constitutes the only lived in museum of Inca Imperial and Spanish Colonial style.
By far the most impressive sights are the perfectly carved volcanic stone walls of two of the Inca rooms which have survived the centuries and now serve as chapel and dining room.
Surrounded by the smoke-blackened walls of the dining room, one can marvel at the infinite precision of the stone-masonry, a monument to the unrivaled craftsmanship of the Incas, and admire the stunning view of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. This magical spectacle was extolled by Alexander von Humboldt who visited the Inca site in 1802 and included his observations in his work "Vue de Cordillères et Monuments des Peuples Indigènes de L´ Amèrique" Paris 1810; and immortalized by the famous painter, Frederic Church (Hudson River School) in 1859. This unique experience provides guests with a perfect setting to savor the Hacienda's excellent Ecuadorian cuisine and enjoy its warm hospitality.
In 1921 the Hacienda was purchased by General Leonidas Plaza Gutierrez, leader of the liberal Revolution. Plaza went on to become President of Ecuador in 1901 and again in 1912, a position which was to be held by his son Galo Plaza in 1948. The Hacienda has remained in the family to this day and is currently owned by the General's granddaughter, Mignon Plaza, whose father, the distinguished congressman and legendary amateur bullfighter, Jose María Plaza, played a pivotal role in politics throughout his life.
This temple or palace was built around 1440 A.D. by one of the last Inca emperors, Huayna-Cápac, and to this day the remaining rooms prevail as a magnificent sample of the unique style of Inca construction. The site is currently being investigated by Dr. David Brown of the University of Texas, the funding of which was provided by the National Geographic Society. Previously unknown portions of Inca walls and foundations have been discovered throughout the restoration process of the house.
Few places can offer a more unique or spectacular setting for a wedding than the Inca Chapel with its 17th century ceiling and perfectly carved Inca volcanic stone walls - a monument to a long ago forgotten craftsmanship. The chapel sits up to eighteen people. Many more fit in the courtyard and corridors. One hundred and fifty people or more can be sat comfortably in the courtyard area. Many more people can be accommodated in the surrounding gardens. It is the ideal place for honeymoons and anniversaries or other special and romantic occasions.
In total San Agustin now has six suites of which four have adjoining drawing rooms, two suites with incorporated drawing rooms and five double rooms. Eleven rooms in all with capacity to room thirty four people full house. The two smallest rooms Montufar and Bonpland, are located in Callo Lodge. Nevertheless these are double rooms. All other rooms are spacious.
The varied and influential inhabitants of San Agustín de Callo have contributed to the unique blend of architecture which creates the individual character of the house. In the main courtyard it is possible to see three distinct styles, Inca (Imperial style – 15th century, construction style which the Incas used for their temples and palaces), Spanish Colonial (18th century) and Republican (19th century) . San Agustin de Callo constitutes the only lived in museum of Inca Imperial and Spanish Colonial style.
Inca Tambo Suite has a King size bed, cable TV, music and books. Adjoining room with sofa bed or two single beds. The bathroom features an antique tub and a fireplace. Three fireplaces. The remains of an Inca wall, which was discovered during renovation, forms part of this bedroom. A door leads out to the gardens.
Mulalo Suite has a King size bed, drawing room with sofa bed. The lounge is equipped with a Stereo, library and cable TV. Three fireplaces, one in the spacious bathroom with its antique tub, one in the bedroom, and one in the drawing room. All the bedrooms have views of the main courtyard and Tungurahua and Chimborazo volcanoes.
French Room, Geodesic Room, and Round Ladies´ Room. All of these rooms have King size beds, en suite bathrooms with fireplaces throughout, music and cable TV. Inca vestiges in some of the rooms.
This charming house is set slightly apart from the Inca House. It has a cozy living room with fireplace and a kitchen. Also music, books and cable TV are available.
Von Humboldt Suite has a king size bed, incorporated drawing room with sofa bed or space for extra beds, private bathroom, fireplace in the bedroom with a heating system in the bathroom. Magnificent view of Cotopaxi and Callo Mound.
Montufar Room has a King size bed, fireplace in the bedroom, private bathroom. Views of Tungurahua and Chimborazo volcanoes. Small room Bonpland room has King size bed, fireplace in the bedroom, private bathroom with heating. Views of Chimborazo and Tungurahua volcanoes. Somewhat small room.
Has two full suites, Suite Cotopaxi and Suite Morurco, with independent drawing rooms with sofa beds, fireplaces, music, books, cable TV and wonderful views of Cotopaxi from all the rooms and surrounding mountain ranges. The bathrooms have showers and jacuzzis with views of Cotopaxi. The larger suite, Suite Cotopaxi, has a social bathroom in the drawing room with a shower. King size beds in both suites.
Authentic high Andean dishes include llapingachos (a type of potato cake), quinoa croquets, maize patties, tamales (steamed corn maize stuffed with seasoned chicken, egg, chillies, olives, wrapped in achira leaves). Soups such as quinoa, timbushca, barely rice soup and the hacienda's famous “locro”, a rich cheese and potato soup served with slices of ripe avocado, and freshly prepared aji, are just a few of the Andean dishes offered.
Tours and Activities
You will explore Cotopaxi National Park and maybe endeavor the hike up to the Refuge 15.744 ft (4800m.) above sea level and even bicycle down the side of the volcano from the car park. Or, you can drive into the region of the Ilinizas Ecological Reserve to enjoy a walk or horse ride with a delicious picnic and beautiful views. Another wonderful drive will take you to the crater lake of Quilotoa passing through the artists' village of Tigua and the local market of Pujili, or Ilinizas Ecological Reserve, Bellavista and the paramo of Anteojos Lakes (within Llanganates Ecological Reserve), or a visit to Chimborazo National Park to see wild vicuñas in their natural habitat and trips to the nearby mountains. Other excursions can be arranged for you such as visits to rose plantations nearby. Other trips include Baños with it's subtropical climate, wonderful waterfalls and treks and then drive down to the jungle to Puyo, or to Riobamba from where you take the train to the Devils Nose (one night sleep in Riobamba)- A great way to extend an Ecuador adventure.
Mountain Biking Tours
A vehicle can take you up to the Cotopaxi refuge at 4800m. above sea level (15700 ft) where you can start an extraordinary downhill ride ending at the park's entrance, where you will be met and driven back to San Agustín for a well deserved hot Andean drink and steaming bath before dinner. Other paths can lead you to the nearby, volcanic Rock of the Virgin located in one of Cotopaxi's ancient lava flows and can also be visited on horseback. Nearby rose plantations can be visited by foot or by bycicle.
Trout fishing in the streams inside the hacienda or at a beautiful privately owned paramo near Quilindana Mountain about two hour drive from San Agustin.
Indian Market Tours
Closer trips will take you to market places such as Saquisili (only Thursdays), Pujili (Wednesdays and Sundays) and Latacunga (Tuesdays and Saturdays), Zumbahua (Saturdays spectacular at dawn) and other surrounding local villages.
Horse Riding Tours
Suitable for inexperienced and experienced riders. The chance to visit Andean towns and villages using old Inca paths. One of the favourite horse rides takes you towards the Cotopaxi through a pine forest to plains just below the volcano with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. For special occasions, you might order an exquisite treat with canopy, table and table cloth, hors-d'oeuvres, champagne or wine and then a sweet nap somewhere in the magical Andes.
The hacienda is surrounded by páramo (highlands) and is ideal for walking. Guided walks can be arranged. The hacienda can arrange to take you by four wheel drive to a rather steep ascent in the southern side of Cotopaxi. Chance to see unusual páramo plants and Andean animals. Return via a deep gorge which leads you back to a village where transport will be waiting to take you back to the hacienda for a well deserved hot traditional drink of cinnamon water (“canelazo”) and a hot bath and dinner in the Inca dining room. A rose plantation can be visited, only a short walk away.