Cotopaxi: Visite el anillo de fuego del Pacífico

The Peak

The last weekend we spent in Ecuador was full of adventure.  On Sabado, we visited Cotopaxi, a 1500 year old volcano located 17 mi south of Quito.  Cotopaxi has one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. The mountain is clearly visible on the skyline from Quito. It is part of the chain of volcanoes around the Pacific plate known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. Cotopaxi is the second highest peak in the country, reaching a height of 19,347 ft.  It is the second most popular destination in Ecuador, after the Galapagos Islands.

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Cotopaxi National Park was created in 1975 as a protected area for the volcanoes and lakes within it.  An impressive array of animals live within the 34,000-hectare park such as condors, pumas, spectacled bears, Andean foxes, orange-headed caracaras (a specie of endemic to the region), llamas, frogs, paramo, humming birds and many others.  This park also has an important collection of lakes and mountain peaks. One the most outstanding of these is Limpiopungo Lake, which reflects in its waters majestic Rumiñahui 4,757 metres high; Santo Domingo Lake, surrounded by walls on Incan stone, the ruins of pucarás (Incan forts) and other stone platforms which are thought to have been built by Pre-Colombian shepherds.

Cotopaxi

El grupo Craven con Diego y Diego menor

We hiked to the way station which is 2/3 the way up the volcano.  Visitors are able to hike all the way to the peak, but it requires camping along the way.  Our shorter hike to the way station actually took a while, because we were at altitude.  I run a 5k several times per week, so I think I’m in pretty decent shape, athletic-wise.  So it was humbling to walk a few short steps and then have to stop and rest while breathing heavy.  I think it took about 2 hours for us to make the hike up from the car park, which was higher than the base of the volcano itself.  Of those of us who embarked on the journey, only 3 of us made it to our destination. Once we got there, was it worth it.  The view was spectacular.

Kayla Y yo en el pico

Kayla Y yo en el pico

Diego, our fearless leader from the Academia, treated us to a hot chocolate from the coffee shop there as a reward for making to our destination and I shared a tasty passion fruit infused chocolate bar I purchased at the MegaMaxi the day before.

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We spent some time enjoying Cotopaxi and the spectacular view of the region around it before we headed down to meet the rest of our party.  Going down was much faster than up, it only took ~ 25 minutes!  It was like sand surfing… part sliding part walking.  We just dug our heals in and part walked, part slid down the mountain.

After our hike up the mountain we stopped at a beautiful hacienda for lunch.  The food was tasty and the rest very welcome.  We had worked up a big appetite climbing Cotopaxi and expended a lot of energy.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thereshegoesxo
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 15:04:54

    Great pics of the volcano! Cotopaxi is just so beautiful and majestic to see! 🙂

    Reply

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Chair of Social Science, Humanities,
& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

800 College Court
New Bern, NC 28562
Email: bellaceroc@cravencc.edu
Phone: 252.638.7328
Fax: 252.638.3231

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