The Splendor of Hacienda San Agustin de Callo
Situated northeast of the village of Lasso, at the foot of the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano in central Ecuador, the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo welcomes visitors to enjoy the many facets of its Spanish colonial heritage. This beautifully preserved hacienda with its white-plastered stone walls, red tiled roof and quaint cobblestone courtyard bears testimony to its interesting past, while the luxury suites offer visitors a host of modern conveniences.
The Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is built on the site of an ancient Inca palace and, from an archaeological perspective, is one of the two most important Inca sites in Ecuador. Since the 15th century, San Agustin de Callo has served respectively as an Inca fortress, Augustinian convent and temporary residence in 1736 for the Geodesic Mission whose scientific studies resulted in determining the true shape of the planet at a time when the most widely held belief was that the earth was flat.
The diverse occupants of San Agustin de Callo over the years has resulted in a unique blend of architecture. The main courtyard gives evidence of three distinct styles of architecture – Incan, Spanish Colonial and Republican. The two rooms which have survived from the Inca era are now the chapel and dining room. Their walls are constructed from perfectly carved volcanic stone which serve as a monument to the superb craftsmanship of the Incas. Ongoing geological excavations are being carried out in the area and continue to reveal evidence of Inca occupation. Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is the only occupied museum of Inca Imperial and Spanish Colonial style.
The páramo eco-system which surrounds the hacienda offers interesting walking trails which visitors can explore on their own or with a local guide. A beautiful rose plantation situated within a short walking distance of Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is open for visitors to stroll through. Horse riding is available for riders of all experience levels. A guide will take riders along old Inca paths to visit Andean towns and villages or through the nearby pine forest which leads to open plains below Cotopaxi, giving a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. One of the recommended mountain-biking trails starts at Cotopaxi Refuge situated at 4800 meters above sea level. Bikers are taken to the starting point by four wheel drive vehicle and then enjoy an exhilarating downhill journey on mountain bikes to the park’s entrance where they are met and driven back to the hacienda.
Other excursions in the area include a visit to Cotopaxi National Park and Ilinizas Ecological Reserve. A drive to the crater lake of Quilotoa passes through Tigua, an interesting artist’s village, and the local market at Pujili, which offers traditional arts and crafts.
Certainly, there is plenty to see and do in and around the vicinity of the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo and visitors to the lovely country of Ecuador are assured that their stay at the hacienda will be a memorable one.