Pululahua Hostel

Situated about 25km north of Quito, near Mitad del Mundo, Pululahua is the largest and only inhabited crater in South America. Created when a massive blast of magma burst through the walls of the volcano, Pululahua Crater is 2500 years old and is the only one in the world with agricultural production. The crater is protected as a National Park, the first to be created in Ecuador, and has since been declared a geobotanical reserve due to its multiple microclimates and broad and unique varieties of flora, birds, mammals and beautiful butterflies endemic to the area including indigenous plants used for the treatment of ailments . Pululahua is a Quichua word that means “cloud of water”, and when you are inside the reserve with the misty outline of the Volcano walls and the gently decending clouds, there is a tranquil, relaxing and mystic quality to this enchanted haven.

 

There are a few places to stay around the crater, Pululahua Hostel being the best value and most secluded. This little gem of a hostel is definitely a fantastic find for any traveller wanting to explore a little closer, the amazing biodiversity and historical landscapes ecuador has to offer. It is not an easy journey to reach the hostel however, so its likely you will be the only guests for that evening. Bought three years ago and renovated into a beautiful getaway comprising of 2 cabanas and a camping area behind the main house, Pululahua Hostel is run by a loving couple, Renato and Paula. All food prepared uses fully organic produce grown on the organic farm including organic coffee beans ground as an when you need a coffee and available for purchase; a nice treat considering Ecudorian coffee is strangely ellusive in Ecuador. On arrival the outdoor spa is already being heated for some relaxing soaking in the evening surrounded by the sounds of the environment breathing around you.

The Hostel offers a good variety of outdoor activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, rappelling and trecking, all of which can be catered for all levels of experience. Experiences range from 1 hour to multiple days and include some truely awe inspiring landscapes. Equipment is good quality with shimano equipped mountain bikes and a horse for even the most nervous of riders. It's wonderfully serene travelling on horse back through amazing vegeation, over streams and to natural hot springs where the iron in the mud is a natural face mask, sucking toxins from your skin.

Led by Renato, any actvity you choose will be accompanied by a running comentary on the history of Pululahua, orchid spotting, life stories and great company with a man obviously passionate about protecting the environment around him and its unique history. Getting to the hostel is not a piece of cake but makes it all the more enjoyable once you arrive. Talking of cake, there are few places you'll try a chocolate cake as good as Paula's! The journey is past Mitad del Mundo, through the entrance to the park (entrance fee $2.50 for foreigners) onto a drit road that winds around the volcano walls for around an hour. If you don't have a car or havn't arranged a pick up with Renato, you can walk about 25 minutes past Mitad del Mundo, uphill, to the edge of the crater, 'El Mirador'.

You then slip your way down a steep dirt track for around 25 minutes depending on how fast you skid, at the bottom take a left and continue for about 100m. The hostel is on the right. Cabanas are $12 per person per night, lunch and evening meals are $5 and breakfast is $2.50. More information on Pululahua Hostel can be found on their detailed website, www.pululahuahostel.com, or at Friends internet cafe, Calama y Reina Victoria, Quito, which is also owned by Renato and Paula. For arranging transportation or making a reservation, Renato or Paula can be contacted on 091914333 - 085585171 or by e mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This wonderful place is a real treat for mind and body, an interesting learning experience and great excercise, surrounded by the enigmatic presence of the volcano walls looming aorund you.

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