Secret Garden is one of, if not the, best hostel in Ecuador. We have fantastic memories staying there; sipping a beer in the giant hammock watching clouds float around Cotopaxi’s peak, having a hearty home-cooked meal with newfound friends after a long day hiking and falling asleep to the crackle of a log fire are just some. It’s the perfect way for a traveller to combine visiting Cotopaxi national park whilst enjoying the benefits of staying in a backpacker centric hostel. The Galapagos Islands are of course first on the Ecuador bucket list but a stay at Secret Garden is most definitely second. Here are our 5 reasons why you need to visit them!


Not many other hostels in the world can boast to have the views of Cotopaxi Secret Garden.


Upon waking every morning and leaving your hostel room you will be treated to an epic view of Cotopaxi Volcano shrouded in cloud, then as the day goes on and the sun travels above it, the skies clear and you can see it in all its glory.


Grab a beer, wrap up warm in one of the hostels communal poncho’s and sit yourself down in the huge hammock outside to watch Cotopaxi bathed in a golden glow as the sun sets.


You can even enjoy the view from the toilet! The hostel is designed in a way that never obscures the view of the volcano.


After a long day of hiking one of the many mountains or volcanoes in Cotopaxi National Park, there’s no better feeling than coming back to a hostel equipped with warm showers, comfy beds and the cosiest of communal spaces.


Bean bags and sofas are spread around for you to collapse in after a strenuous day and you will likely have one of the four dogs that live there for company.


Moreover, free tea, coffee and banana bread are on offer all day. Even if you decide to miss a trek, it’s the perfect place to snuggle up for the day with a book and a coffee.


Cotopaxi Secret Garden isn’t run like a regular hostel but more like a package deal.


You pay for a minimum of two nights and get all your food, drink and activities included. Your days spent there will mostly be out in the park trekking, with this in mind, the hostel staff make sure you’re well-fed.


This isn’t like some package tours where you are given a bit of rice and something that resembles meat – the food here is unbelievable.


You will never go hungry as there’s always more than enough and it’s all made from what they grow in the gardens. Hearty soups made with organic fresh fruit and veg, fresh bread cooked on-site or healthy eggs from local farms in the region – you won’t be disappointed.


The hostel is fully stocked with beer and wine and many people sit on the benches in the living space talking about their travels, playing cards and relaxing. Beer and wine are marked on your tab and you pay for everything, including additional activities all together before you leave. And did we already mention the free banana bread?


The dorm room 3-days and 2-nights deal cost $95 with two activities included, all your food, drink and snacks as well as transportation to and from the hostel – this is one of the best deals you will find for a hostel in the whole of South America. 


Then combine this all with the amazing setting and you’d be a fool not to stay here. We’ve written up our whole experience here if you want to know more


With the package deal comes two free activities included. On the first day, as you arrive in the afternoon you are taken on a short waterfall trek in the grounds behind the hostel, and on the second you can take part in the Pasachoa trek – a 4-5 hour hike up the Pasachoa Mountain for some incredible views of the park and Cotopaxi Volcano.


If you decide you want to do something else like the hike up to Cotopaxi’s glacier or go horse riding in the park, then this is also possible as Secret Garden run their own tour service. These extras need to be paid for on-site, but prices are reasonable and probably much cheaper than private tour companies!


From the hobbit hole rooms set up in mounds of the hills to the rows of lush vegetables, fruits and flowers that flank every path – Secret Garden is the perfect name for this hostel as you can feel as if you are walking through a scene out of a fantasy film.


If this isn’t enough, at the entrance to the hostel are the local llamas which they use for milk and fur. So, if you haven’t seen a llama yet on your Ecuador trip this is the best time – grab a banana from the hostel and head down to feed them.

We think every backpacker visiting Ecuador should visit and stay at this amazing hostel. But if you don’t neccesarily have the time you can take a day trip from Quito. 


We’ve compared three different day trips from the capital and a trip to Cotopaxi is one of the best value for money. 


Where to next after Cotopaxi? If you’re heading south then check out our guides for the Quilotoa Loop and Banos.


Or if you haven’t got your Ecuador route planned yet, our month long itinerary can help!