Tierra del Volcán, a remarkable tourism operator in the Ecuadorian Andes, offers two iconic products: Hacienda El Porvenir and Hacienda El Tambo. These destinations are rare gems that provide a unique “experience,” offering a new way to discover oneself through breathtaking landscapes and unexpected connections.
The Beauty of the Páramo
It all begins with the location—the páramo, one of the most extraordinary ecosystems on the planet. We are specifically referring to the Ecuadorian páramo, and not just any Ecuadorian páramo, but the páramo surrounding the majestic Cotopaxi volcano, the most striking peak in the Andes. It is within this stunning setting that Hacienda El Porvenir and Hacienda El Tambo operate.
It is important to understand that paramo in Ecuador is unique to the equatorial Andes. Characterized by towering glaciers and intense volcanic activity (many of the volcanoes, including Cotopaxi, are still active), no two páramos are alike.
The rugged Andes and their irregular contours create isolated conditions within each páramo, resulting in the evolution of distinct communities of flora and fauna over millennia. Some ecologists refer to the Ecuadorian páramo as “an archipelago amidst the mountains.” Hacienda El Porvenir and Hacienda El Tambo take us to the heart of these ecosystems.
Through their ecotourism vision, Tierra del Volcán protects the vast grasslands and elfin forests that exist at the tree line. These forests, with their low stature, are dominated by resilient species that endure the demanding conditions of low oxygen and cold temperatures at high altitudes. The unique experience of visiting and intimately exploring these environments, which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth, is both an education and an opportunity to connect with extreme nature.
At Hacienda El Porvenir, for example, one can witness a stunning waterfall amidst a lush Polylepis forest (an endemic species). The waterfall originates from the natural thawing of the nearby glacier. This is no ordinary sight; being in its presence reveals how the country’s main rivers are born (Ecuador is known for having the highest number of rivers per square meter in the world) and how the páramos nourish the major river basins of our continent, such as the Guayas River and the Amazon.
The expansive grasslands at Hacienda El Tambo, for instance, serve as vital water reservoirs essential for the region’s ecosystem balance: not only is it crucial for the life it breeds, but also provides insight into where our astounding biodiversity originates. The hacienda is surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped peaks, including the Quilindaña and Cotopaxi volcanoes, and in close proximity to a “super” volcano, the mighty Chalupas—a colossal caldera of prodigious proportions. Being immersed in this landscape and gaining a profound understanding of its nature leaves a lasting impact. The local culture is equally captivating, with chagras (Andean cowboys) riding through the undulating hills, professing a unique connection with their surroundings.
Experiences to Engage the Senses
Exploring the páramo, immersing oneself in hacienda life, admiring the beautiful grassland landscapes—how it all harmoniously combines with exceptional food, locally sourced from organic gardens and conscious culinary practices… Hacienda El Porvenir serves delightful dishes, some presented in volcanic stone plates, such as a divine tenderloin with a delicious Andean blueberry wine sauce. Traditional regional recipes are prepared with profound love for the hacienda culture, including classics like the potato “locro”, empanadas, and llapingachos (potato patties).
Visitors have the opportunity to engage in numerous activities, from planting a tree and contributing to the well-being of the paramo to . Whether on horseback, on foot, or biking through paramo, the entire experience is part of Tierra del Volcán’s culture of exploration and transformation. You can even engage in horse-empowerment “therapy” sessions that leave an indelible mark on your life.
When we encounter nature like this, we realize that everything, from its vegetation to its culture, make it unique, ancient and enduring, thriving at the foot of nothing but volcanoes. The profound connection with our telluric essence flood visitors with profound sensations.
El Cerotal: Gateway to Imbabura
Tierra del Volcán also manages Hacienda El Cerotal, located in the province of Imbabura. This historic hacienda has been transformed into an ideal retreat for those seeking to explore the northern region of the country or simply immerse themselves in the rustic charm of Andean country life. Every aspect of the hacienda reflects its colonial history, as part of the greater Hacienda La Magdalena, including exquisite artwork attributed to renowned representatives of the Quito Baroque Art School and the fine weaving tradition of the area, displayed in high-quality textiles. It is the perfect destination for families, just a ten-minute drive from Ibarra and Otavalo, in one of our nation’s most iconic tourism destinations.
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Photos: Juan Fernando Ricaurte / Tierra del Volcán