Heading to Cotopaxi by private shuttle from the Secret Garden Quito, to their sister hostel, the Secret Garden Cotopaxi was a bumpy ride. Located out of Machachi and off the well worn roads, we bumped across cobble stones and dirt roads with an extreme amount of potholes, dodging cows, llamas, dogs and horses along the way.
The ride was well worth it, and not only did we all sigh a breath of relief when the bus come to a stop, we all sighed in awe at the beautiful countryside that surrounded us. Mountains on every side, farmland and animals running around, the quaint little hostel nestled into the land with a special sort of romance mostly seen in movies or read about in books.
Set up for a relaxing and adventurous stay, this place was to become my home for the next 3 days thanks to a special package deal that includes all meals, snacks and a few guided hikes while you’re there.
We were greeted with a warm fireplace, an abundance of Christmas lights and a mug of mulled wine. After getting welcomed, fed a hot lunch, and settled in our dorm rooms (very fancy and comfy dorm rooms), we set off on the first hike.
Up the hill in our Wellies (provided), we crawled through the scrub into the river; which looked like something out of a fairy tale with green moss blanketing every surface you could see, and a cool clear stream flowing down the rocks. We Began to rock hop, climb and with slightly wet feet we continued up the river, listening for the sound of waterfalls…. that’s when it began to rain, hail, and pour!
Nothing would deter us or break our happy spirits though, and we continued as a team up, up and away, until we finally came to the big and beautiful waterfalls.
The water was freezing, so I don’t blame the others for not swimming, but nothing was going to stop me from leaping into the clear water! Our guide, Frank, then showed us the beer he had been carrying the whole time and we all shared a Few bottles between us before starting the hike home. If it wasn’t for the weather, we were told there would be views like no other!
The community we formed in this little hostel was like a small family and a few of us enjoyed a rest in the jacuzzi while it drilled with rain outside.
The following morning we could see Cotopaxi (Before the clouds rolled in)! Cotopaxi is the highest active volcanoe in the world, and the word means ‘shining peak’ – she definitely shone, radiating white snow and an air of mystery.
Pasachoa was hiked that day – an extinct volcanoe that now appears as a sunken crater with a humid forest within (which we explored). Up to 4200m, we climbed. Whilst it was a beautiful hike, the altitude affected everyone and we were all out of breath on various occasions. The forest is one of the only non-touched highland forests remaining in its original state, it was pretty cool to see.
The hike took us about 5 hours and was only a 15km round trip. We relaxed in the late afternoon again with a jacuzzi and swinging in the hammocks with a glass of wine.
The clouds rolling in at the top of pasachoa :
There were a variety of other activities to participate in, including reaching the climbers refuge at Cotopaxi and then riding a bike out of the national park, horse riding in the outskirts of the national park, and the ruminahui summit trek which invokes ropes, abseiling and climbing.
Below are some pictures of my stay (as my camera is very precious to me I didn’t risk taking it out in the rain (it rained every day which was unusual) so there are not pictures of everything here).
I would recommend this stay to anyone who needs a bit of adventure, some good food and a bit of relaxation. Be aware that although transport to the hostel is included, getting a bus out is not – it costs $3 to get to machachi and from there you can hail down a bus to nearly anywhere (latacunga or Baños seem to be popular next destinations).
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings…” – John Muir