Secret Garden- Cotopaxi

I had a magical weekend at a slice of heaven in the Andes Mountains. My friend Gustavo and I wanted to get away from Quito for a day or two and decided to go to the Secret Garden, a hostel on the outskirts of Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is the world’s highest active volcano. Sadly, this weekend was very grey and overcast, but on clear days you can see Cotopaxi from Quito, and it is a majestic monster looming over the city! The hostel we stayed at is right near the base. Here are some photos from the hostel website, taken on a clear day at Secret Garden:

 View from the hammocks out front

View from the dining room
Getting there was no easy feat in our car. We got lost at least 3 times. Neither of us expected how far out in the middle of nowhere the hostel is. Normally they provide a shuttle from Quito to the hostel. The drive up to the hostel was like a different world from Quito and the surrounding valleys. From the last real village, it was another hour drive through muddy paths in the mountains. The hostel itself only received electricity last year. It is situated in the heart of a valley, surrounded by volcanoes and mountains.

 Driving towards Secret Garden

Map of the hostel in relation to the volcanoes

View of Sincholagua Peak from Secret Garden's dining room

There was a big storm the night before we arrived, so we actually didn’t have electricity the entire time we stayed. This was no problem though. Our cabin had lots of candles and a fire place. The cabin was two stories tall and the upstairs bedroom window opened directly to Cotopaxi. Waking up Sunday morning we had a good view, but by 9 or 10 the clouds had moved in and covered it. The hostel is complete perfection: communal living room, all meals included served at a big table overlooking the valley, friendly dogs and cats running everywhere, gardens, horses, llamas, ducks, chickens.

 Main building- the architecture was mostly the same for 
all of the cabins and dorms as well

Garden behind the hostel

Hostel dogs guarding the living room

It is an eco friendly hostel, so there are composting toilets used to fertilize their gardens. Produce and herbs come from their backyard, there is a sunroom with a Jacuzzi, hammocks strung up everywhere with people reading and sharing stories. All 3 meals are included each day, and if you are going to be out exploring, they will even pack you a picnic lunch!

 Cuddling a very friendly hostel pooch

Composting toilets!
Gustavo and I were feeling pretty lazy so we stuck around the hostel reading, relaxing, playing cards, and hanging out with the dogs. However, the hostel plans a ton of fun activities for the adventurous types that I plan on participating in next time. There are caves and waterfalls within hiking distance you can explore, horses to ride, bikes to borrow, and of course, summiting Cotopaxi! This is not something I am going to attempt, but Secret Garden will arrange it for you if you want.

 Sunroom/Jacuzzi at Secret Garden

There are cages of cuy (guinea pigs) behind the hostel...Wonder what they are for?

 Gustavo taking photos with a real camera on our walk
I wanted desperately to stay in this serene oasis, but alas! I have papers to grade and kiddies to teach tomorrow. If you come to Quito for whatever amount of time, stopping by the Secret Garden is an absolute must. They have a sister hostel in Quito as well.


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