The Secret Is Out...The Secret Garden Cotopaxi in Ecuador
Can I tell you a secret... but you have to promise and TELL EVERYONE! We’ve discovered the best kept secret in Ecuador…the beautiful Secret Garden Cotopaxi! I don’t even know how to put this experience in words...it’s like a retreat. Picture this...waking up to a gorgeous snow capped volcano right in front of your eyes. Best part of all is that you get this view from anywhere...literally! At breakfast?...yep....while hanging out in the hammocks?...of course...waking up in bed?…sure...enjoying the jacuzzi?...yes...while taking a shower?...you got it...in the toilet?...heck yessss! You will get this and more when visiting Secret Garden Cotopaxi.
We were planning our visit to Cotopaxi Volcano and this little hidden gem caught our eyes. This place was exactly what we were looking for. We had just finished trekking the Quilotoa Loop and were looking for our next adventure. I am not going to lie, I was also looking for a spot to sit back and relax.
So What’s The Big Secret?
The Secret Garden Cotopaxi is not your average hostel. This place is tucked away in the middle of the Andes Mountains allowing you to escape the busy world and enjoy an accommodation that gives you hassle-free luxury. The concept of Secret Garden operates on an “all-inclusive basis” (keep reading to learn more). The Secret Garden focuses on self sufficiency and sustainability. Most of the food served at Secret Garden is home grown at the property. As soon as you arrive you will feel the vibe offered by this place. But best of all, this rustic luxury welcomes all kinds of budgets. From private cabañas, hobbit homes, birdhouses to mixed dorms with a fireplace, there is something for everyone here. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Let us share with you our personal experience at the Secret Garden Cotopaxi.
Paradise…It Does Exist!
Upon arriving to the hostel, you will meet the great staff and the team of volunteers. They will welcome you with a nice lunch to get the day started. Your first adventure will immediately follow. Let me tell you…Secret Garden Cotopaxi does not waste any time! They really maximize your stay. You eat, drop off the bags and start chasing waterfalls.
This first activity is a guided 2 hour trek going through the cloud forest to visit beautiful waterfalls. This activity really sets the tone for the next few days. This is an awesome ice breaker to meet the entire team that will become your family for the next couple of days. As soon as you start, your guide will ask your group if you’d rather take the easy path or the extreme path. Our team decided to head up the extreme route. Don’t worry about your shoes getting dirty, the Secret Garden team will provide waterproof boots for the adventure (take them up on this offer or you will regret it later). We recommend taking water, but don’t take a lot of things. You will need to be able to dodge tree branches, climb rocks, cross the small river and any other obstacle that comes your way. Make sure you watch your step and hold on while crossing the muddy paths and the side of rocks overlooking the beautiful waterfall.
One of the adrenaline filled parts of the hike is when you have to a make a decision to either take a dirt path up or climb up a wall of rocks next to a small waterfall to reach the bigger waterfall. This is a little bit of a rush, so if you don’t feel comfortable just take the dirt path up. We could not resist climbing up the rocks, it kind of felt like we were canyoning. After this, we finally reached the waterfall. In our group, more than half decided to dive into the freezing water. Bring a swimsuit if you plan on jumping in.
We finished our visit at the waterfall and headed back to Secret Garden. Not before we got caught up in some rain and ended taking the easy route back. The rain stopped as we approached Secret Garden, but not before Cotopaxi Volcano gave us one of the best views of the day! Cotopaxi was simply impressive and left us in awe. This was the reason why we made the trip to stay out in Secret Garden… the views of Cotopaxi Volcano will leave you stunned. Out of all the volcanoes we’ve had the pleasure of seeing, this one is one of a kind!
We got back around 4-4:15pm. We had enough time to shower, change and get ready for… snack time! Make sure not to miss this, as it happens everyday at 5pm. We had water, tea, coffee and chicken wings as our snack. You also have the ability to purchase wine or beer at an extra cost. After our snack time, we all headed out to enjoy the stunning sunset that was waiting for us.
As if the wings were not enough, we had dinner ready to go at 7pm. Dinner happens in the communal tables where you will find enough room to sit down and enjoy your huge dinner with your new friends from all over the world. At Secret Garden you will never go hungry. The team always makes sure you are full and often we experienced them offering seconds. Shout out to the cooks at Secret Garden Cotopaxi! The breakfast, lunches, snacks and dinners were always finger licking good!
Once you are done, you will find multiple places to chill out and relax. The common area has couches by the fire place, coffee, tea, banana bread and bananas available for you to enjoy all day. The fireplace really helps keep the place warm and make it for a great social and cozy environment. If you end up getting cold…no worries, the Secret Garden team gots you! They have several warm ponchos available for anyone to grab and warm up. There is also another large room which has the hammocks, more couches, bean bags and a great view towards Cotopaxi Volcano.
Our group was a bunch of lively people, but the volunteers really made everyone feel very comfortable and included. The music and drinks started getting everyone into a dancing mood after dinner. Once the food coma wore off… we started showing off our dance moves! It was an awesome atmosphere towards the end of the night. The music was great and everyone was dancing and having a great time. You looked all around and everyone was smiling and having a blast! Best of all…no one was on their phone because there is no WIFI! Yesss… time to disconnect and enjoy these couple of days with your new found friends! If you are looking for a more chilled environment, you will always find a spot to sit back and relax. This is what makes Secret Garden so unique, there is something for everyone.
Our Hobbit Home
You will have a handful of options for sleeping arrangements, but we were definelty looking for the experience in the Hobbit Home! The Hobbit Home is structured and build into the side of the mountain with stunning views. How does this get better? Well, how about waking up and looking straight out the glass door and wow… a breathtaking sight of Cotopaxi Volcano!
What can we say about the bed, it was super comfortable. The pillows were also very fluffy and helped us get a good night sleep. The room was a good size and allowed us to store our bags and move around very easily. This was more than just a hostel bed… the Hobbit Home was definitely one of the highlights of our stay at Secret Garden Cotopaxi.
Activities & Adventure
We eventually had to wake up from our good night sleep in the Hobbit Home and get ready for some activities…or did we?! We decided to wake up early and catch the sunrise which I highly recommend you do! It’s not everyday, that you get to see the sunrise in such a beautiful setting. We made ourselves coffee and headed out to the nets which have the best views of the sunrise.
After sunrise, we had a filling breakfast at 7:30am. Make sure you are punctual as they stick to a strict schedule for breakfast. The reason for this is that most of the activities will leave the property by 8am. It is a big plus that Secret Garden makes it effortless to plan your days there. They have plenty of activiites to choose from:
Cloud Forest and Waterfall Trekking
Pasochoa Summit Trekking
Cotopaxi National Park
Some of the above activities might be included in your stay. Check out Secret Garden’s website for up to date information. The nice thing about the tours is that you can book them directly with the staff at Secret Garden. The prices they offer are also very comparable to what you will find in Quito or Latacunga. During snack time, the volunteers will go around and ask what you want to plan for the next day. Just let them know what you want to do and they will make it happen. It is convenient that you don’t have to worry about logistics or go out searching for tours. The Secret Garden team is able to offer everything on site. The process is smooth and they make it a great experience. It is also very fun that you get to experience the activities with the people you have met since day one.
Chill Out & Relax
Although there are plenty of activities to keep you busy, we decided to stay behind to chill, relax and enjoy the place. The Secret Garden hostel is really created for this kind of behavior. Our favorite thing to do all day was lay on the net with the view of Cotopaxi Volcano. We had the chance to admire the stunning landscape, eat all the banana bread we wanted and drink coffee.
If you got tired of the view, which I don’t know how you would, you could easily walk up the hill to the jacuzzi! We were really pampered during our stay and we loved it. Just us and mother nature. A great getaway from the city and all the hustle and bustle.
The main reason why we visited Secret Garden Cotopaxi was to get the views of this beautiful volcano. We can honestly say, at this hostel there is no shortage of great views!
The Secret Garden Staff
The Secret Garden Hostel is really one of a kind, but we wholeheartedly believe that the staff puts in a lot of work to make it happen. It was good to hear that there are 14 employees hired from the nearby community of Santa Ana. From the awesome food they cook, to keeping the place squeaky clean and making sure all the facilities are at the highest quality possible. Our favorite part was that they make you feel at home. As you walk around the hostel, everyone will always greet you with a warm and friendly smile. The Management Team was also beyond amazing making sure you get the type of quality you pay for. But we can’t forget the 5 furry friends that want to hang out and cuddle with you all day long. How can you not fall in love with these adorable four legged friends!
How to Get to Secret Garden Cotopaxi
Now that you have made your decision to visit this place, how do you get here? If you are traveling from Quito the easiest way is to visit Secret Garden Hostel in Quito and take the shared van shuttle. The cost is $5 per person from Secret Garden Quito to Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Transportation can also be included if you decide to purchase the 3 Day/2 Night package. You will also have the option to travel from any other nearby city to Secret Garden Cotopaxi. If you decide to get there on your own, take any bus that goes by Machachi and get dropped off by the “Horse Statue” on Carreterra Panamericana. If you plan this accordingly you should be at the statue location between 10:45am - 11:00am and jump on the shuttle that is coming from Secret Garden Quito. If you are not able to make this time, you can always jump on a taxi truck and head over to Secret Garden Cotopaxi. The cost of the taxi truck will vary from $15-$25 for the ride. We were able to negotiate the drive down to $15 and headed to Secret Garden Cotopaxi. The Secret Garden team can also assist with the organization of a shuttle from Machachi to Secret Garden Cotopaxi for $15. The ride is about 1 hour and it will be bumpy, but it will be very scenic.
If you are planning a trip to Quito, make sure to give yourself a treat and stay at the Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Secret Garden Cotopaxi is created for people who enjoy the outdoors, lively scene and who love to kick their feet up and chill. The social aspect of Secret Garden is what we really enjoyed and loved. The no WiFi policy is what you need to disconnect and connect with nature and other people. You will come in as a friend and I assure you will leave feeling like family. This is truly the best kept secret in all of Ecuador.
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*No, there was no money involved. This post was part of a collaboration with Secret Garden Cotopaxi. All the opinions and reviews are completely our own.