An hours drive south of Quito is the Cotopaxi National Park
, centered around the Cotopaxi
, Ecuador's 2d largest stratovolcano.
The volcano peaks
at 5897 meters, its summit covered in snow with a real glacier on its flanks.
Cotopaxi is an active volcano that has
destroyed the nearby city of Latacunga
several times, lastly in 1877 when the steaming mudstreams even reached the Pacific
Ocean, 100 km to the west.
Minor eruptions occurred in 2015 and the park was closed for a year.
Despite the danger, climbers flock
to Cotopaxi to scale the icy mountain. Most start early morning from the Jose F Ribas Refuge
at 4800 meters.
Attractions of the
park are the Mariscal Sucre Museum, several lagoons, clear streams and an old Inca fortress.
We visited the park on
a rainy day in May 2009 and found Cotopaxi shrouded in clouds. We hiked around the Limpio Pungo Lake
(altitude 3840 m) and had
lunch at a typical mountain restaurant where we met a real Andean Fox
start of the Limpiopungo Lagoon hike
Coca tea may well help against altitude sickness but it tastes terrible
a copy of an original mountain hut
the Mariscal Sucre Museum provides information about the park's geology
an Andean Fox checks us out in the pouring rain
the Chuquirahua thrives at these altitudes
at the park entrance
in the nearby souvenir shop the lady carries her child in the traditional way
heading back to the car
we are being watched
the best shot of the Cotopaxi volcano
in the higher valleys horses roam free
inside the restaurant we have a view of the northern slopes of Cotopaxi
here we will have lunch
and then moves on
the Jose F. Ribas Refuge was hit by an avalanche in 1996, 13 climbers died in the accident