From Quito we picked up a rental car and drove to Hosteria Papagayo, a 180 year old hacienda turned hotel near Cotopaxi National Park, for a 3 night stay in the Andean highlands. The drive is an hour and 20 minutes, and we stopped in the nearby town of Machachi for some pizza at Pizzeria El Hornero.
Hosteria Papagayo has lots of farm animals on its grounds, including llamas or alpacas, horses, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, chickens, and dogs and puppies. There’s also a beautiful glass walled dining room, a stylish lobby, rose bouquets everywhere, including in the rooms. In the backyard are tree houses for kids (or adults!).
The rooms themselves could use a little updating but the bedding is clean, comfortable and warm. Some of the rooms are in the main house and others are in cabins.
Breakfast is included and very good. You can choose between eggs, pancakes, French toast, or granola with juice and coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. We also brought our own mangoes and papaya, and the staff was easygoing about giving us knives and plates to cut them up with.
We had two dinners at the hotel restaurant, which we discovered was better and cheaper than eating in the town. We really liked the Israeli salad and the locro de papa, an Ecuadorian soup with potato, avocado, and cheese. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can eat in the restaurant and explore the grounds.
The hotel is a 25 minute drive from the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park. You should take the road heading south, as the northern road is not in good condition. The park is free, you just need to bring your passport. If you get a clear day, take advantage of it to see the Cotopaxi volcano and maybe even summit it.
Another popular place to see inside the park is Laguna Limpiopung. You can walk the easy trail around the laguna.
The best view we got of Volcan Cotopaxi was at sunset en route to the town of Chaupi. We jumped out of the car when we saw it looming large and clear in the distance. Photos cannot do it justice.
We also walked for miles off the hotel grounds and got to see some of rural Ecuador. Just beware that whenever a car drives by you’ll have to shield yourself from a cloud of dust.
Staying at Hosteria Papagayo have us a glimpse of ranch life in the Andean highlands, quite the contrast to city life in Quito. It’s a special experience especially if you like rustic surroundings and farm animals.