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Cotopaxi sits 2.5 hours south of Quito in what is known as the “Avenue of Volcanoes”, a mountain chain with north-south orientation. The most visited one on the east side is Cotopaxi, a 5897 meter giant that dominates the landscape along side it’s “wife” volcano Rumiñahui, at 4712. We first heard about this volcano from Tom and Nick (whom we met back in Colombia and were traveling much faster than us) who unsuccessfully tried to climb Cotopaxi due to it’s eruption mid August. Up until our visit (Sept 16-19) it was still closed.

Back in Quito, we stayed at the Secret Garden hostel, they also have a sister location near Cotopaxi with spectacular views of the surrounding valley. The owner, Edwin, sold us on coming and staying in a Hobbit hole (!!) for 3 nights with 3 activities and one-way transportation along with their usual package of all food included (the hostel is remote so there are no other food options). The hostel itself is know not only for it’s great location but also for it’s ecological efforts and magnificent hiking options around. To say the least, we were really excited to head over.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted not only by a breathtaking view of Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui, but also with a very charming lodge and a small glass of hot wine. Some of the folks we had seen in Quito were working/volunteering there and were very welcoming. Our first activity is a easy hike to a nearby waterfall (1.5h round trip) shortly after our first meal, a vegetable soup. Upon our return, we head to our hobbit home for the next few days and were totally in love with it. We diligently read our Lord of The Rings books during our stay here, the room complemented with the view, made us almost believe we were in the shire.

The following day, breakfast was served around 8:00 with aims to head out to Pasachua around 9, we were still 100% healthy so we decided to skip this one. We lounged and read most of the day and mingled during the evening and huddled around the fire for a movie flick after dinner.

We chose to do the downhill bike tour early morning on our third day there. it’s a 30-minute ride up in a 4×4 with our (not so greatly taken care of) bikes to an altitude to 4120 meters. The view from the top was amazing! We hiked about 10 minutes higher to a ridge before heading back down to get on our bikes. The ride down took about 30 minutes including stops for photos and a couple of falls. The ride across the valley was not as enjoyable as the downhill, the cobble stone road made for a very bumpy ride.

During the last evening we enjoyed mingled with the new group coming from Quito and made our plans for the next couple of days. The hostel offers a private van service that can be easily arranged and shared with some of the other guests staying there. We scheduled a van to head to Latacunga with aims to reach Quilatoa over the next two days.

Lodging:

Hostel: Secret Garden Cotopaxi
Cost: $39 (all food included)
Kitchen: No
Notes:
Secret Garden, both Quito and Cotopaxi are definitely set up nicely. We really enjoyed the staff, location and the variety of good food in Quito but were, unfortunately, a little disappointed with their lunch options at Cotopaxi. During a full day of activities we didn’t feel that a veggie soup did the trick, we found ourselves looking for snacks way before 5pm.

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