The hacienda has been associated with the railway since it was first built, using the train to transport the farm's produce to sell at market. Nowadays the railway brings guests to Hacienda La Danesa, to enjoy the hospitality of the Olsen-Peet family and spend time on the 500-hectare estate near the Andes mountains. The working dairy farm forms the core of the estate, and there are teak and cacao plantations, so there is plenty going on.
As a guest you can lend a hand with milking, tour the cacao plantation to learn about chocolate production, and take part in cookery classes. Outdoor pursuits such as horse riding: the estate breeds its own horses, river tubing and mountain biking are all possible, and day trips to nature reserves and archaeological sites can be arranged.
There is a variety of accommodation. Two rooms are in the main farmhouse, with their own entrance so you can come and go as you wish. Each bedroom is en-suite and together they share a private part of the garden. Another room occupies part of the restored stable block, and has a bathroom with a rainfall shower plus an additional outdoor shower in the private garden. It has the benefit of an entertainment system, Wi-Fi, a hammock and yoga mat. There is also a guest cottage. With a large bedroom, bathroom and a veranda it can accommodate up to two adults and a child, and has a hammock, minibar and coffee machine.
Staying on a working farm you would expect the food to be fresh and tasty and this is indeed the case. The skillful use of locally grown organic, seasonal produce results in delectable dishes which you can enjoy indoors or on the terrace. During your stay you can sample some of the products made on the farm including jams and chocolate.
Open: Hacienda La Danesa is open all year.
Location: Hacienda La Danesa is located on a 500 hectare property near Naranjito. It is about a 1 hour from Guayaquil, 3 hours from Quenca and 6 hours drive from Quito.
Rooms: There are cabins and houses scattered among the gardens. The cabins vary in size, with twins/doubles, triples and quadruples. Some have fireplaces. The 2 houses are designed for families. 1 has 2 bedrooms and sleeps up to 6 people, the other has 3 bedrooms and sleeps up to 8. All rooms have a homely feel, created by the beamed ceilings, polished floors, patterned textiles and rugs.
Activities: Explore the gardens, go bird watching, walk to the waterfall about 30 minutes away, hike to Otavalo (roughly one hour) where you can visit the market and shops, go mountain biking or horse riding, visit a local village, go to Mojanda lakes to fish, kayak and watch condors. Lodge staff can arrange a number of other half and full day tours. Some of these activities need to be paid for locally.
Facilities: The lodge has a TV/games room with a collection of DVDs books and games. There is a library. Outdoors there is a Jacuzzi and attractive gardens. Massages can be arranged.
Dining: The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are eaten together in the dining room. The food is based on traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, though continental dishes are also available. Many ingredients are grown in the organic garden.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome. Children under 4 years stay free, and those aged between 4 and 11 qualify for a reduced child rate when sharing with 1 or 2 adults.
Health: This is not a malarial area.
Communication: There is free Wi-Fi internet access in communal areas.
A stunning luxury train trip through the Andes and out to the Ecuadorian coast.