After 5 weeks in Ecuador, it’s finally time to make our way to Peru! BUT, before leaving this beautiful country, we have a few places we want to visit along the way. Our first stop is Cotopaxi!
Cotopaxi is a very large, still potentially active volcano. Now we didn’t stay on the volcano per se, but we were pretty close to it. Right outside our room we had an absolutely breathtaking view. It was so beautiful it didn’t look real, like someone had reached out and hand painted it.
We stayed at a very well known hostel among backpackers called The Secret Garden. There are actually two Secret Gardens, one in Old Town, Quito and one in Cotopaxi. Lucky for us, they shuttle travelers from the Old Town location so our trip there was pretty easy…we only got lost once or twice.
Our first day was definitely an adventure. All the new guests attended a meeting explaining how the hostel works and we were shown to our rooms. Then we had the option to participate in a free hike to a nearby waterfall. It was free so of course we signed up! We were all given a set of rain boots and we were on our way, stopping quickly to feed some llamas (All though we just ended up feeding the horse, the llamas weren’t having it). The guide asked us politely if we’d like to take the ‘fun’ route or the easy rout. The fun route of course…that’s why we’re here!
*Hot tip – when someone asks if you’d like the fun version of something, make sure you understand their definition of fun.
We started on the hike jumping from rock to rock… okay, this is fine. Then somehow we ended up clinging to the side of a jagged cliff, holding on for dear life and hoping not to fall as we dangled above the rocky stream below. A little dramatic maybe but I swear death crossed my mind, especially after another girl actually did fall off. She was okay for the most part, thank goodness but lets just say shit got real after that. Ryan played it cool, but I was terrified. Not only were we rock climbing (a little exaggerated) but we were in rubber boots…. I’m sorry but they don’t have ANY grip!!! After what seemed like 15 hours of jumping, climbing and gripping we finally made it to the waterfall and it was gorgeous. We were warned the water was cold but we had hiked all that way so we decided to get into our swimsuits, jump in the stream and go under the falls. IT WAS FREEZING. I’m talking can’t breath when you’re in it freezing. So cold your heart skips a beat and your limbs seize up freezing.
We were already cold and wet so we decided to make the best of it and have some fun jumping off a smaller waterfall into a pool 20′ below. We each took turns, and again the water was so cold it was slightly paralyzing but thankfully everyone made it out in good spirits. We all got dressed and dragged our cold tired butts back the EASY way!
The neat thing about this particular hostel is that all the meals are included and everyone eats together making for a very warm family type feel. Its was a great way to meet other travelers, hear their stories and learn about where they’ve been and where they’re going.
*Hot tip- its a very good idea if you’re traveling for a longer period of time to chat with other travelers and pick their brains about the places they’ve visited because they have first hand experience.
It has to be said that the food at this hostel was out of this world!!! The best food we’ve had on our trip so far. (Just edging out Judith’s favorite Shawarma joint in Cumbaya)
The next day, seven of us decided to go horseback riding and we hoped it would be a nice and easy ride especially because we were all sore from the day before (Including the Super Trooper Lisa, who now had a limp from her fall). As they were assigning us horses, they asked if anyone was an experienced rider and of course Rye and I did not put up our hands. However, there was only one experienced person in the group so I was given the other horse meant for a more advanced rider.
Meet Blackie (please be advised that this is not her real name). Blackie is a strong willed horse who likes to lead the pack and gallop when the opportunity strikes. The ride started out a little rocky. I was pretty terrified at times because Blackie would just take off whenever she pleased…. I could even hear Rye yell “Oh god!” when he saw I was close to falling off. Throughout the trip however I started to get the hang of it and began to enjoy myself, even encouraging her to gallop here and there. In the end I was ready to take Blackie home with me.
Rye’s horse on the other hand had a different personality than mine. Meet Steve (please be advised that this is not his real name). Steve likes to eat then drink and then eat some more. He is a gentle giant that likes to leisurely stroll through the trail. Rye wasn’t necessarily comfortable on his horse right away, but he wasn’t terrified either. He also got the hang of it by the end and enjoyed Steve’s company. Steve is hilarious and full of personality.
We lost a fellow rider. But only once during the 3 hour trail so I think we did pretty good. And only for like, half an hour or so. Don’t worry, we found her…eventually. Her horse seemed to know the way, and essentially brought her back to us!
The next day we were incredibly tired and sore from our two adventures so we decided to take a rest before heading to our second destination, Baños. We really enjoyed our stay at The Secret Garden-Cotopaxi , we love the beautiful scenery, the wonderful staff & volunteers and we met some amazing travelers. It’s definitely recommended for those traveling through Ecuador.