Cotopaxi on a good day

After breakfast we join our local guides and buses for a spectacular journey towards Ecuador's highest active volcano, Cotopaxi. Situated south of Quito, we first head out of the city via a suburb town called Sangolqui. On the way, we are rather surprised to see Cotopaxi in all its glory, clear of clouds. This is very unusual, and defintely Cotopaxi on a good day - so we stop to take photos as proof!

Arriving in Sangolqui, we don our radio headsets, and march into the busy food market. The town is famous for its local market, but few tourists visit, so we are the odd ones out today. Many locals seem more interested in us than doing their daily shop. The produce available to purchase here is amazing. The sheer variety, quantity and high quality of the fruit and vegetables is fantastic. We stroll from stall to stall, our guides explaining what's on offer, and also having a taste every now and then. The stall holders are keen to help. Richard's guests buy a selection of fruit to share at lunch time. Dawn's guests buy bananas, but secretly eat them all before lunch! We thoroughly enjoy our market visit and feel very relaxed walking around the town, so it comes as a surprise that a yellow-jacket security man greets us and offers to become our personal security guard. We politely decline but he follows us anyway, stopping traffic when we wish to cross the road, and generally clearing the way for our progress back to our buses! We thank him and eventually manage to escape and head for our next stop.

From Sangolqui we take a cobbled road towards Cotopaxi. This is a back route, not taken by many, but providing us with wonderful views of the spectacular scenery of the valley of the volcanoes. Our lunch stop is at a glorious location called Cotopaxi Pungo - a hotel restaurant situated on the edge of Cotopaxi National Park, with a direct view to Cotopaxi itself, and stunning views in all directions. After a tasty lunch, we arrange for a couple of the bedrooms to be opened so we can have a look. Each bedroom has a panoramic window with a view towards Cotopaxi in one direction, and towards the valley in the other direction. The rooms look very inviting, and Richard and Dawn are worried some of their guests may jump ship and stay the night!