My favorite hostel in the entire world is The Secret Garden hostel at the Cotopaxi Volcano about two hours from Quito, Ecuador.

The hostel is nuggled into the hillside facing the volcano. Here you can enjoy hiking and adventures, three meals and a snack every day, people from around the world gathering around the fireplace in the evenings, a hot tub… I can’t say enough good things about this place!

It is rustic. There’s only electricity in the main building — but each evening while we were relaxing in the great room with other guests, someone went to our cabin, lit a candle in the window, and laid out a fire in our woodburning stove. We felt pampered and at peace here.

There is a Secret Garden in Quito as well, and transport between the two is the most direct and affordable way to get to Cotopaxi. Just call the Quito Secret Garden to arrange it.

I couldn’t resist writing a poem using the phrase ‘silence of the llamas.’ Look for it beneath the photo gallery!

Cotopaxi Sleeps

Gravel crunches under my feet.
A bird rustles free from a grassy ditch.
But beneath those sounds
I sense an immense silence.

Clouds swim by in the cartoon sky
Ancient stoic mountains ponder in the distance.
Their craggy names reflect their rocky shapes.
Ruminahui. Illiniza. Sincholagua.
.
Cows gaze and chew sideways as I stroll by.
I can hear the silence of the llamas who squint into the wind.
Hushed horses twitch their tails and watch me pass.

Towering before me
The underlying overarching dominating source of silence
The virile volcano Cotopaxi.

Quitely parting his cloud cloak
Cotopaxi reveals red earth slopes
A dragon’s color in this folk-art scheme
The glacier at his head breathes steam
The top a gaping maw

The hills that undulate beneath my boots
Were bus-sized boulders Cotopaxi spit
When flame and boiling rock walked this path
But for now
The silence reigns.

Author

Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer. She has been traveling the world, living out of a backpack, since May of 2013. Lauren has written regularly for CBS Local, WebPsychology, Hipmunk, and Hotelplanner, and has also been published in The Culture-ist, Matador, and other online and print publications.

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