I love camping as much as anyone and backpacking is paradise, especially once you put your pack down. One of the great pleasures of doing multi-day walks however is returning to civilization and having a shower! It’s also nice to get out of the shower and step onto a clean surface and climb into a warm soft bed. Papagayo Hosteria provided all of this and more.
Papagayo Hosteria has a real homey atmosphere and is set on a converted farmhouse that has tons of charm to make up for perhaps a lack of some modern conveniences. The rooms are colorful if rustic and the grounds have farm animals ranging from cows to sheep to llamas. They also grow roses on the premises commercially and the garden is a pleasant place to while away a few hours.
Though the food is pricey by Ecuadorian standards it is filling and fairly tasty if a bit westernized. After a few days of eating noodle soup and dehydrated mashed potatoes it tastes like a gourmet feast!
Prices vary depending on if your room has a private bath or heat. Rooms in a separate building are more modern but lack the charm of the farmhouse proper. We liked the room with a wood stove sans private bath best of the three nights we stayed there. It was $9 per person.
There is free fast Internet in the living room and English speaking staff occasionally.
Though Cotopaxi National Park does have an organized campground close to Laguna Limpiopungo it has minimal facilities. There are no showers but there is running water that is evidently potable. It also has toilets though I would imagine they are not of the flush variety. So, instead of paying $10 to camp it seems a better choice to camp in the backcountry which is free and offers more solitude for those able to collect and purify water and dig a hole for fecal disposal. I would also feel more comfortable leaving my gear in the wilderness than a campsite accessible by vehicles!
We found three excellent spots on our hike around Cotopaxi. Each had its own special attributes but all shared one thing: absolute solitude. We had them all to ourselves, aside from some meandering cattle. The first spot offered up excellent views of Cotopaxi at both dusk and dawn. The second was quite protected from the elements and was full of humming birds that zoomed by the tent. The last was the most makeshift. It was not quite as far as we wanted to go but once we crossed a small river it offered some protection from the Andean winds as well as some hills to explore that lead to beautiful views of Cotopaxi at sunset and sunrise. All were also free.
If you want to climb Cotopaxi, you’ll likely have to hire a qualified guide unless you are quite experienced. Either way, you’ll spend a night at the José Ribas refugio. Just getting there on foot would be a fair accomplishment as it sits at 4800 meters, 1000 meters above its surroundings. Most arrive via vehicle as there is an access road that brings you to a parking area at 4600 meters, about an hour’s walk to the refugio. Sleeping at this elevation is difficult but no worries you’ll be awoken at before midnight to being your trek to the top anyway! It’s also cold so bring your sleeping bag. We thought of spending our last night here but when we lucked out and got a ride out of the park to our hostel that idea went right out the window! It cost 10 dollars per person per night for a bunk.
Leaving the Cotopaxi National Park in the rain we headed for our base for the night, the Hacienda La Cienega, arriving here in the middle of a storm. We received a friendly welcome and were shown to our room, having arranged to meet up with Jose Luiz later for dinner. The room, number 31, was on the far side of this historic property and was a good size, with a large and comfortable bed, and was nicely decorated. We were pleased to see that it had a heater as well as a fireplace, as the day was chilly at these heights (over 3,000 metres above sea level I believe) and the fire not lit – although later it was lit for us, and very cosy it was too!
We went to the small bar to see if we could get a coffee but the friendly manager immediately proposed that we sat in the then-empty restaurant (it was only about 4.30 pm) as there was a good fire going. He brought us a cafetière of good coffee and even lit some candles! Later in the afternoon we went to sit in one of the hallways to take advantage of the free wifi (which didn’t work in our bedroom) and again staff hurried to make us comfortable, stoking up the fire in the wood-burning stove. Later the rain stopped and I took a brief walk in the courtyard garden, its lush tropical trees and bushes dripping and birds starting to sing after their soaking.
In the evening we had a somewhat disappointing dinner in the atmospheric restaurant, which I describe in my separate tip, as the it is open to non-residents and I believe is a popular lunch stop for private tours to Cotopaxi. The next morning we had breakfast in the same restaurant which was more of a success than the dinner had been – fresh fruit (melon, pineapple and banana), fresh juice (babaco – related to papaya and very refreshing), scrambled eggs and bacon, and reasonable coffee.
Overall we really liked our short stay here, because of the special atmosphere and history of the place, and I would recommend it – but take a warm jumper and ask to order your dinner from the main menu!
The hacienda is packed with history! It dates from the early part of the 18th century, and was so well built that it survived the 1744 eruption of Cotopaxi. It has played host to numerous famous people, including Charles Marie de la Condamine, a French scientist who participated in the 1736-44 Geodesic Mission that determined the true shape of the earth (and identified the location of the equator just north of Quito) and to Alexander von Humboldt, the German geographer/naturalist who studied Cotopaxi’s volcanic activity in 1802, and who is best known for proposing the theory that the lands bordering the Atlantic were once joined (and for having an ocean current named for him!), as well as many of Ecuador’s former presidents.
On one side of the courtyard is the small but beautiful Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. It can apparently be used for weddings, and Jose Luiz explained that on some visits his tourist guests have been accommodated for dinner in one part of the dining room while the wedding party celebrate in the other. The chapel doors stood open when I was exploring the garden, as they did the next morning, so I was able to have a look inside at the lovely wooden altarpiece, unusual reed ceiling and several old paintings. Do step inside if you are staying here – it’s all part of the special atmosphere of La Cienega. Go through to the area behind the courtyard too, which our room overlooked – a wide, more open courtyard now used as a stable yard I think but which was once the venue for the hacienda’s bullfights.
Next tip: dinner at the Hacienda La Cienega.
Andy and Michelle built a wonderful resort for backpackers and other tourists, apart from the big road, up in the Andes. A colorful garden where they plant their own vegetables, ducks, lamas, sheep. A oasis of silence, just great.
Rated one of the top ten eco-lodges in the world by Outside Magazine in 2003. A wonderful place in the Andes Mountains, it is really worth to go and see it.
Sort by: Most recent | Most helpful
Top Provincia de Cotopaxi hotels