I admit to having had some reservations before I ventured to Ecuador. Reports from travellers on the road were somewhat mixed and I was leaving behind one of my favourite all time cities of Medellin in Colombia. By pure luck though, I found myself in a hostel in Quito called the Secret Garden and settled in for 3 days. I soon discovered that the Secret Garden has a sister hostel, located about an hour and a half drive away and located in a rural setting adjacent to Cotopaxi National Park and with views across to Cotopaxi, an active volcano that last erupted enormously in the late 1800’s.
What awaited me totally blew my mind. The Secret Garden at Cotopaxi is located on a hillside with direct views to several volcanos, snow capped Cotopaxi as well as Pasachoa and Runinahui, both extinct but stunning volcanos.
View from the Jacuzzi !!!!
The hostel arranges hikes of varying difficulty to the various volcanos plus treks to the high level refuge of Cotopaxi at 4,850 metres. The super adventurous will be disappointed to hear that the hikes to Cotopaxis summit have been cancelled due to the recent volcanic activity. As with other high altitude summits around the world, climate change is also reaping its now familiar havoc with the glaciers on the mountain that have decreased by 40% since 1976. Yet another obvious scientific fact to keep the climate change deniers busy.
Another fabulous trip is a visually stupendous horse riding trek through the surrounding National Park. True to form though, on the morning of the horse trek, the grey clouds rolled in and the 4 hour trek was interrupted by rain storms and a particularly unwelcome hail storm at one point. The rain meant that the camera had to stay hidden away in my dry bag and the stunning vistas could not be photographed. For anyone planning a visit though, the horse trek is definitely not to be missed. Some of the photos below will give an inkling of the scenery.
Afternoons and nights at the Secret Garden are spent lazing away the hours in the welcoming warm Jacuzzi with views across to the volcanos or by playing several versions of cards while enjoying the cheap beers and wine. Food is tasty and abundant and included in the cost of the basic packages that are best booked from the Quito operation.
All in all, the secret Garden at Cotopaxi is one of the best kept secrets in Ecuador and should be a must see for anyone planning a trip to this part of the big wide world.