The last couple of days i spent at Secret Garden Cotopaxi – a hostel in the Cotopaxi national park. Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest volcanoes and is just stunning. After Stephen confirming that it was awesome, i booked and headed out there
A bus took us from Quito to Cotopaxi at 10am – a 2 hour drive away. For $5 each. In the bus i met my friends for the next couple days: Elena (a Brit) and Sam & Mark (two Irish lads). All in our 30s (or about to turn 30 in Sam’s case) and really lovely people.
The ride starts off through towns and nice smooth roads, and then moves to dirt tracks for quite a while as go entered the national park. Eventually we see the cutest little place up ahead. With just beautiful scenery all around…
As soon as we arrived we had lunch. It was just the 4 of us as all the other guests were on their hikes… we chilled for a bit – got to know each other and then did a 2 hour round trip to a waterfall. We were told it was a fairly easy walk… it was more of a hike… followed by grappling over stones in the river… followed by climbing up a rockface and round the rock face… and finally to the waterfall! But it was fun. A couple also joined us – James & Jamie – also from the UK! It was a very UK heavy group randomly!
Then in the evening we all decided which trek we wanted to do the next day. There had to be a minimum for each hike, so the 4 of us (Sam, Mark, Elena and myself) decided to do Pasachoa. Cotopaxi is a stunning volcano, but it’s very high, snowy and according to the others, the one day hike wasn’t so good. So we listened, and decided on Pasachoa
That evening we had dinner which was pizza! Actually it was Cuy Pizza – otherwise known as Guinea Pig Pizza! Um… i tried it… but no! Very gamey and weird. Luckily it was followed by margherita, pepperoni, goats cheese, Hawaiian, Mango chutney and so many more that there was plenty choice for everyone! Over dinner we got to know more of the guys – there were about 20 of us staying over night and everyone was pretty cool. It was clear that those who had been there a couple days had bonded very strongly – but that was cool – I just hung out with the other ‘newbies’ and we had a good eve!
Everyone heads to bed early due to the altitude and the fact that we’re hiking the next day. I was in a dorm of 8 – it was clean, warm and cozy- what more do you want!
At 5.30am i awoke naturally – and decided to get up and watch the sunrise. It was calm and peaceful with no-one else around! I had a shower, got ready and slowly people started popping up.
Breakfast was at 7am (ish). It was homemade pancakes with fruit on top. Mmm – should be delicious. But it was sadly Banana pancakes with banana and guava on top, so i was screwed! luckily there was toast and jam which sorted me out
By 8.15 the 4 of us (and our guide) were out the door. The hike was going to be c.6 hours long. Now this was my first proper hike ever. And i decided to do it at altitude! So i hadn’t gone for the easy option… but i persevered and bloody did it! It was hard – VERY hard! The altitude hits you with every step you keep ascending. My hands swelled up and i had massive sausage fingers – luckily i wasn’t wearing any rings or it would have been very painful!
I had to stop and rest every 10 minutes or so on the way up. When we were on flat ground it was fine, but Up was hard!
After 3 or so hours we made it to the top! And it was SO worth it – we were literally on top of the world… It was spectacular and made me feel good to know i had made it! A proud day indeed!
And here we all are at the summit!
Even the hostel dog joined us for the hike and made it to the top – in fact he made it look easy despite his tiny feet!
We celebrated with some sweet tea, a sandwich and a bit of cake- which i shared with Mash (the dog). The food gave us all energy after a long walk! And then we had to head back down! We went a different way down which was actually my worst part! Very soft land which made it hard to know if you were going to stand on it, or sink into it! I really struggled on this stretch – the boys were like mountain goats jumping around, but i was far more cautious (AKA Slow!) and took my time! I fell a few times, but just kept on going! Then down through a forest and finally back to the hostel. 6.5 hours in the end (the rest of them could easily have done it in 6, but the extra 30mins was due to me!)
They were all really supportive and friendly – here they are once we got back on dry (and flat land!)
Got back and headed straight for lunch. Hot veggie soup with bread – it was just so nice to sit and eat! And warm up as the walk had been quite windy at times due to the height
Then we said our goodbyes and jumped back into a van to go back to Quito. This time we were 8 in the van with multiple iPhones and loudspeakers so we took it in turns to play a track and have a good old sing-song! Certainly made the journey faster!!
Back to Quito at 6pm, writing this at 7.30pm and likely bed by 8.30pm as i am KNACKERED! But happy! What will tomorrow have in store… lets wait and see 🙂