Waking up to the sunrise over the active Cotopaxi Volcano, hiking peaks in the national park by day, and lounging by a fire with puppies and other backpackers at night is an absolute dream. Located outside of Quito, and nestled in Cotopaxi National Park, is The Secret Garden Cotopaxi eco-hostel and lodge.
Here is where you can disconnect from the bustling city of Quito, and become submerged in nature.
Even though this hostel has been mentioned in Lonely Planet’s South America on a Shoestring as one of the best, it is still very much a hidden gem on the backpacker trail of South America.
The bumpy ride down dirt roads and through country farms is very much worth it (you can actually arrange transportation to the hostel from The Secret Garden’s location in Quito, since it is in a more remote location where busses do not go). You will be greeted upon arrival by dogs and a glass of mulled wine before heading out on a waterfall hike. It is an exceptional place to meet other travelers- there is no wifi or internet available in this location. Home cooked family style meals occur three times a day, as well as a snack time and endless banana bread.
The accommodation varies, from hobbit houses, to dorms, to private cabanas, and even to camping. When I stayed at The Secret Garden, I decided to camp out, but the hobbit homes were a close second choice.
Regardless of where you stay you will be spending very little time in the room. By day you can ride horses around the Andean Plains, hike Pasochoa, mountain bike, or relax in the giant hammocks overlooking Cotopaxi Volcano. On the mountain biking trip you will stop at a trout farm and catch your own lunch, eating fish as fresh as it gets.
At night you can bundle up by the fire, star gaze, or relax in the Jacuzzi. The entire hostel, as well as the land surrounding the hostel, are so picturesque it almost does not seem like reality.
You really cannot go to Quito, or even Ecuador, and skip out on this place. It is by far one of my favorite places I have ever traveled to in the world, and the first places I will recommend as soon as I hear the word Ecuador.
Watch the video and I guarantee you will add The Secret Garden Cotopaxi to your bucket list.