There is no record of the great Prussian explorer and scientist, Alexander Von Humboldt, paying a visit to Hacienda Cusín on his travels from modern-day Colombia to Ecuador. He and Aimée Bonpland would have made their way from the important town of Ibarra to the north towards Quito along the old road, just over the hill from the hacienda.
Had the Baron and his companion climbed the dormant Imbabura Volcano to gaze down on what he would later name “The Avenue of the Volcanoes”, he would have admired the fertile fields to his south dotted with thousands of sheep, the lands of Hacienda Cusín.
The original sheep farm comprised two valleys and all the land between them and the San Pablo Lake – a vast, rolling estate of some 50,000 hectares (100,000 acres). It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the estate was split up. Today, 12 hectares (30 acres) remain as part of the hacienda-hotel, ideally situated for exploring the Otavalo market as well as Imbabura Province’s stunningly-diverse nature and culture. Furnished with antiques, filled with artful curiosities and imbued with a profound sense of place, Cusín provides the perfect setting for an Andean adventure à la Humboldt and Bonpland.
Without question, the two Europeans would approve of Hacienda Cusín’s international and Ecuadorian dishes, fine wine and relaxed dining; fireside tea service and hot-water bottles in bed; armchairs and books aplenty. They would have delighted in the eucalyptus-carved columns of its adjoining El Monasterio, with its refectory murals, quirky Baroque altar, parapet with swooping views and handsome guestrooms… the art of fine hacienda living would no doubt have seduced them just as it does today’s modern worldly travellers.
The pair would have taken special pleasure in Hacienda Cusín’s grounds and gardens. The property’s landscaped and passionately-cared-for perennial gardens are a delight: a vibrant paradise of more than 60 plant species including Aztec lilies, agapantha, acanthas, foxgloves, malva, hollyhocks, roses, poppies, daisies, bright bougainvillea and, this being Ecuador, dozens of orchid species.