ECUADOR // main land
June - July 2014
We knew we wanted to get out of the city quick so we just stayed in Quito for one night (which wasn't the best idea- more on that later). We were heading out to Cotopaxi the next day, which is an active volcano in the Andes Mountains. There is a hostel at the base called The Secret Garden (that Dennis had actually found on Instagram months prior) and they have a sister hostel in Quito so we stayed there the night we landed and got a ride out to the mountains the next morning. The Secret Garden Quito was pretty cool, but The Secret Garden Cotopaxi was incredible.
It is still, by far, our most favorite place that we have stayed to date. We stayed in a tent the first few nights and then a private cabin for the rest of our time there. The people were all wonderful, the food was great (nothing is nearby so you eat all of your meals family style with the rest of the guests), and the location was unbeatable. Every morning we woke up to a rainbow with Cotopaxi in the distance.
Upon arrival we went on an "easy" hike to a waterfall. While it wasn't strenuous in anyway, we did have to scale a wall about 15 feet above a small stream.
The day after we arrived in Cotopaxi we went to the mountain and climbed to the glacier line. It was really amazing but since we had pretty much just landed in the country we hadn't gotten a chance to acclimate to the elevation (we got up to around 16,000 ft. on the mountain) so it was hardddd. Every step felt like we were trudging through cement and it was pretty difficult to just take a breath. That combined with a lot of hail, snow, and wind made for some tough conditions- but it was well worth it.
While in Cotopaxi we also went horseback riding. Dennis loved it. I hated it. I was terrified and my horse was crazy.
The rest of our time in Cotopaxi was spent relaxing at The Secret Garden and exploring the beautiful surrounding land.
From Cotopaxi we took a bus to Banos. Went to the Swing at the End of the World, rode bikes down a mountain, ate Argentinian food, and did some shopping.
After a crazy road trip across the country to the beach town of Guayaquil with two guys we had just met, we boarded a plane to the Galápagos!