Cotopaxi National Park

Added 03 Nov 2013

We are on the road at 8am this morning and our destination is Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is Ecuador's second-highest mountain peak and one of the world's highest active volcanoes. Shortly after leaving our hotel we are subject to a police diversion. On Sundays some of the roads in Quito's colonial city centre are closed to allow better access for pedestrians and cyclists. This normally starts from 9am but for some reason it has started earlier today. As a result we are sent off in the opposite direction to Cotopaxi and our driver, Johnny, has to make his way around town via some very narrow roads and turns. He is successful of course and we join the city ring road to continue our journey. 1km on there is another police block. This time a lamp post is being replaced so no traffic is allowed through. We divert via a local neighbourhood. Eventually we are back on the main road. Although we have bad luck with two diversions we certainly have good luck with the weather and views. There are very few clouds and we can clearly see three major volcanoes: Cayambe, Antisana and Cotopaxi. Our guides confirm this is indeed a rare treat. We are so excited so we put in an extra stop. We are on the PanAmerican Highway now and we stop next to a pedestrian bridge over the road and use this as our stage for photos. The sun is shining and the volcanoes are in full view.

At our scheduled comfort stop Richard and Dawn purchase some biscuits and water before we head further south turning off the highway with about 20 kms to go to the National Park. Most tourists approach Cotopaxi from the main entrance via a purpose built road. We deliberately drive an old road - it is mostly cobbles and therefore a bit bouncy. However it is off the beaten track and the scenery is stunning. We stop and take a stroll along the lane. We are bird watching and plant identifying and generally soaking in the fresh air and the sights and sounds. Shortly afterwards we enter Cotopaxi National Park via a minor gate and immediately stop for more photos. The volcano is an amazing sight topped with snow and a deep glacier. Next stop is a shallow lake located directly below Cotopaxi. Here we see Andean Gulls and Caracara and take another walk with our guides. We are well over 12,000 feet in altitude here but we have acclimatised well. After a pleasant visit we leave the park by the new road and head for Hosteria La Cienega for lunch. The gardens here are beautiful and the hummingbirds are on good form. Thousands of photos are taken.

What a wonderful day.