The Secret Garden.

The Secret Garden, Near Cotopaxi, is an award winning eco-friendly mountain lodge nestled high in the Ecuadorian Andes. Situated less than two hours from Quito, in an isolated but beautiful location. It is overlooked by the snowcapped and downright amazing Volcán Cotopaxi (5897m).

It’s a great place for adventure seekers, as well as for people who just want to relax and get away from it all. After 2-months of relentless travel I plumped for relaxation!

Secret Garden has a number of accomodation options and for the first time on this trip I chose the cheaper option of a dormitory. After checking in, and taking lunch, my fellow ‘newbies’ and I were invited to join two members of SG staff for an ‘orientation’ walk. It was a great way to see the surrounding countryside and meet fellow guests. On our return to the lodge we were asked about what activities we would like to do the following day. These options included a couple of six hour hikes, horse riding or relaxing in a hammock with a beer!

Next day, after an awesome breakfast, we were driven to a farm where our horses were saddled up and ready to go. The eight of us were each matched to a horse (I was given the smallest!) and off we set. Trotting and cantering through the spectacular Andean countryside, with awesome views of Volcán Cotopaxi, was an amazing experience. I hadn’t ridden a horse in years and boy did I pay the price for it the next day!

The rest of my stay at SG was spent lazing in a hammock!

Getting to my next destination proved to be a nightmare. It was Friday afternoon and the following day was the start of ‘carnival’ and everybody was on the move! The taxi driver, from Secret Garden, dropped me off on the side of the Pan-American Highway and told me to flag down any bus displaying ‘Latacunga’ – the name of my next destination.

I doubt many people have attempted to flag down a bus on the M1 motorway (in the UK) but that’s the best way of describing my situation and futile attempts at trying to stop any form of public transport. Thankfully, after about 2-hours, I managed to bag a seat on an ‘Ambo’ destined bus, with no real idea where the hell I was headed!

What is the Pan-American Highway?

The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads measuring about 48,000 kilometres (30,000 mi) in total length, except for a rainforest break of approximately 100 km (60 mi), called the Darién Gap. The road links almost all of the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world’s longest “motorable road”. However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South Americaand Central America by road. Excerpt from Wikipedia.

Next stage: Quilotoa Loop.

About Richard Griffith

My first independent travel experience was a trip to Israel, in 1997, it was here that I caught the 'travel' bug! In 2001 I took an 8-month sabbatical and traveled around South East Asia. Since then I have managed to visit most of Eastern Europe along with India, Bangladesh, and a few other destinations in between. I love travel and I love meeting new people.
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