A SYMPHONY OF COLOR, THE BACKDROP OF HEAVEN, MYSTICAL, ENCHANTING, UNIQUE AND SPECIAL. NO WONDER IT IS CALLED THE SECRET GARDEN.
Yes they have tiny homes called Playhouses to stay in with tiny furniture and they have Hobbit Homes slightly larger and built into the mountain plus dorms and private houses surrounded by gardens.
Yes they have gentle streams, little ponds, gardens of flowers and other magical treats for your eyes to feast upon.
Yes they have a jacuzzi and hammocks to lounge around on plus family style meals, banana bread to die for, among other delectable dishes, as well as dogs to hike with or cuddle up with next to the fireplace.
Yes they have llamas and sheep and horses to love on and play with.
They have everything your little heart could desire. Beauty and tranquility abound here at Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Come experience the utter bliss and the adventure for yourself.
The outdoor activities include, without limitation, hiking to waterfalls, biking down the mountain, ice trekking to the summit of Cotopaxi (which by the way is a traditional Quechua word meaning “Neck of the Moon”) and horseback riding in the National Park with mesmerizing views everywhere you look.
And for you photographers out there, welcome to a place where you will never set your camera down. Both the sun and the moon dance with the clouds decorating the valley below and the volcanoes above with rays of light and shadows.
So how do you get to heaven and what is the cost you might ask? Go to Secret Garden Cotopaxi and book your 3 day/2 night promo. The price is $97 for three days and 2 nights for a bed in the dormitory. If you book early you might be lucky enough to get a Hobbit Home. Keep in mind that the price includes all your food, a hike to the waterfalls and a hike to Pasochoa as well as your incoming shuttle transport. Meet your fellow travelers at Secret Garden Quito (the sister property) by 10:00 a.m. on your date of departure and take the approximate 2.5 hour shuttle ride deep into the mountains to the land of enchantment. The other activities range in price depending on whether you are going alone or with a group. And Tony or one of the volunteers here will handle scheduling all of your activities for you and your transportation to your next location.
I did the waterfall hike on Day 1 which was a lovely trudge through a forest full of trees and icy rivers. In fact, you must wear the water boots they provide for free because the river crossings can get quite deep. The hike requires you to cling to the sides of rock walls periodically bringing with it a thrill or two and certainly a sense of adventure and jumping in the freezing water near naked when you arrive at the final waterfall is part of the tradition for those of you who are brave enough to do it. Click here to see some of the waterfall hike.
I did the horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park on Day 2. I had forgotten how at home I am straddling a horse until my guide Christina handed me the reigns and I hoisted myself on Carbonera’s back. Surprisingly, given my lifelong experience with horses as I grew up on a horse farm and rode equestrian hunter jumpers all through my formative years, Carbonera was still the most comfortable, smooth ride of my life. His gallop equates to a gentle massage rather than your typical bounce fest on trail horses for tourists making this excursion even more pleasurable. And because I have experience and was alone with the guide, we got to gallop over the beautiful terrain, stomp across fast flowing rivers and reach heights I had never been before – at least not on a horse. And breathtaking doesn’t cover the views. There are no words brilliant enough to describe the views from here. You MUST come see. Click here to see some of the action.
As I turned my ankle on Day 1 in the aforementioned water boots, I was unable to hike either Rumiñahui or Pasochoa but all my new friends would recommend either of these activities and if you are into real challenges then the overnight ice trek to the summit of Cotopaxi is right up your alley. And, by the way, the water here must be magical too as after I soaked in the jacuzzi my sprained foot began to heal. No joke.
In the late afternoons and evenings, there was card playing, yoga, jacuzzi and even a few folks who played guitar and sang. Tranquility was mostly the name of the game here at Secret Garden after about 3:00 p.m. each day (except for the new arrivals) given the exciting adventures during the first part of the day.
Things to know are as follows:
Children are welcome. We had 2 year old Lily with us and 11 year old Wilhom. There were also some local kids hanging about who were just as darling as could be. And despite being a summer camp for adults, we loved having the little ones with our group.
There is no WiFi and your Ecuadorian SIM card will not work here so go outside and play and you can brag to your friends and family on social media later.
Help fertilize the garden and use the composting toilet. Believe it or not this eco friendly bathroom is private, has a view and even a little waterfall to get “things” flowing but watch where you walk as some of the dogs at the Secret Garden haven’t figured out how to use the composting toilet!
Bring sunscreen, a balaclava to cover your ears while horse riding or climbing, bring your Kühl waterproof pants and jacket as you might get some rain, your The North Face thermal ball jacket too (although they have lovely ponchos for you to wear here), bring some gloves, some bug spray, bring CASH as they ONLY take cash, bring your Swell Bottle and any Red Bull or specialty drinks you may want (you can use the pond as a frig to keep your drinks cold – that’s what I did) and definitely bring a good book to read or your Kindle as there is little out there more relaxing than kicking back with a good read in one of the indoor or outdoor hammocks they have here. AND, OF COURSE, BRING YOUR CAMERA!! I again cannot recommend anything more than I recommend the Olympus Digital SP-100EE as it is so light and has a fantastic zoom and takes just as good, if not better, photos than all those huge heavy lenses people weigh themselves down with. Evidence of that is included in all my recent blog posts including this one. And, if you have one, don’t forget your Go Pro.
Also, the chefs prepared some of the best meals I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting so bring your appetite.
I have traveled far and wide my friends and can name on two hands some of the most charming and magical experiences I’ve had and Secret Garden made it on the list. Write me if you want to know about the others as I’m happy to share them as well and then go unlock the Travelirvana in you.