I had the pleasure of staying at Hacienda La Danesa a stunning rural estate that combines a luxurious boutique hotel and working farm on a recent trip to Ecuador. Just one and a half hours from Guayaquil, the hacienda has everything from horses and cows to cacao and sugar cane. Activities include hiking, biking, beekeeping, horseriding, a bean to bar chocolate experience and more. Its proximity to the gateway to the Galapagos makes it a good option to stop and relax after visiting the enchanted isles, although it would work just as well as an accommodation option before.
Arriving at the Hacienda gives you the feeling of being transported back in time. The driveway is lined by tall teak trees. The fields behind are filled with sugar cane, cocoa and grass for the horses. Set in stunning grounds the main house and surrounding guest rooms are a bustle of activity. With just 6 guest rooms with capacity for 14 guests, this is the height of secluded luxury. We are swiftly welcomed by the staff. Many of whom are local and live in the small town which backs on to the hacienda. The train station is immediately to the rear of the Hacienda and from there it is possible to visit the Hacienda as part of the tren crucero exploration of the Avenue of Volcanoes.
Meeting the general manager, Neils reveals the story between the Hacienda. Bought by his grandfather, a Danish man some 50 years ago the Hacienda has always first and foremost been a working farm, it began accepting day visitors, before opening its first overnight guest accommodation in the last 5 years. A project which the young and dynamic Niels has pioneered.
Our first activity on arriving at the Hacienda is a visit to the Cocao plantation. The objective is to witness the transformation of the humble cocao bean to a finished chocolate bar. We start by visiting the cacao plantation where we learn about the different types of bean that can be used to make chocolate. Before harvesting and roasting the cacoa beans, removing the shells and grinding them to separate the cocoa butter and nibs. Next, it is over to the cocao workshop where we transform the raw ingredients into a delicious bar of chocolate.
The Rooms at the hacienda are spectacular. Staying in the 70m2 Garden Suite was very special. The rooms come equipped with your very own traditional Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat to wear during your stay, more commonly known as a Panama, they are available to purchase along with the farm delicious produce from the Hacienda’s shop.
The next morning it was time to try my hands at beekeeping. Our guide Guillermo shows us this how to prepare the bee smoker. Filled with smouldering wood and with bellows attached to this side the tool is designed to calm down the bees when working with their hives. It’s now time to look inside the hives learning more about the bees’ behaviour before harvesting the honey from the hives, before returning to the hacienda to enjoy the morning’s bounty.
Get in touch with our travel specialists if you would like to stay at Hacienda La Danesa during your Ecuador holiday.