I’ve been excited to visit this in the country eco-lodge at the foot of Cotopaxi (active volcano in Ecuador) because I had heard so many fellow traveler rave about it.
A 2 hour bus ride from Quito, it was the perfect getaway from the big city, bustling streets and especially the horrible exhaust from the buses that unfortunately pollute the beautiful city of Quito. I was looking forward to being in the middle of nowhere and relaxing in nature.
From Quito, the hostel offers daily transport from their Quito branch (departs 10am, $5, 2 hours) The ride getting to Secret Garden is rocky and slow but you can really enjoy the scenery as it gradually changes from cities to nothing but hills, valleys, mountains and farm animals.
We arrived to the Secret Garden and just overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and the difference in environment.
Obviously the view of Cotopaxi and the surround mountains and hills were insanely breathtaking, but also the care and attention the owners have put into building this eco-friendly, friendly hostel was so warm, kind and really special.
Apparently everything was built using local materials and local help. Wherever they could, they had put the environment first, but still with the comfort of regular living for the guests (flushing toilets, showers). Also, there is no wi-fi so that you can enjoy the nature and company without the interruption. Scary at first, but actually a really really good idea. (they have internet for emergencies, not for any social media urgencies :))
Composting bathrooms that overlook the Cotopaxi. (There are other normal flushing toilets too, but they encourage you to use the composting when doing #2. There are 2 compost toilets and every half a year, the contents are used as fertiliser for their farming)
The food is also one of the highlights of the Secret Garden, and three delicious healthy meals and a snack is offered daily included in the cost of the stay. The best part is that all guests gather at one table eat like Thanksgiving.
Everywhere you look, there is some cared for beautiful effort and it was just really comfortable and impressive to be in.
This is the hobbit house, the flowers planted in wood planters.
There are also cows and lamas raised in the lodge. My friend Joy and I read up on how to raise lamas (one of the very entertaining reads available in the lodge) and learned all about the types, the health and the mating habits of the lamas. After, we approached the lamas with our newly gained knowledge and got really close to the friendly animals. (Unfortunately, my awesome selfie with the lama was lost due to the iPhone loss….)
All around there is beautiful nature and on the first day, we were taken for a nice walk / hike to the nearby waterfall, accompanied by the house dalmatian, which makes sure that all guests are safely on the path.
You can choose activities from hiking up to Cotopaxi to horse back riding for additional cost. We chose horse back riding and it was 3 hours of riding through the grand nature of the National Park of Cotopaxi.
Happy group shot!
Expect for the daily activities, I basically lounged around and relaxed in the comfort of the hostel. Rocking in the hammock, catching up on reading, playing Chinese Chess by the fireworks and drawing. Lovely time so well spent, I feel like my soul was completely refreshed.
I have to mention my other favourite activity, the Jacuzzi! They take in fresh water from the rivers every day and heat it up in the tub. The stress and aches from 4 months of travel seemed to melt away in the warm bubbly water. Long nights spent with new friends over glasses of wine in the tub was one of my favourite moments of this stay.
I spent 2 lovely nights there, but would have loved to stay more. Definitely one of my favourite stays so far.
Two days after I left, Cotopaxi erupted. Apparently no imminent danger to the hostel, but it must be an incredible view to see an active volcano from the hostel.