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Cotopaxi is one of the most loved volcanoes in Ecuador. People love to see it majestically stand heads about the plains around it. The Cotopaxi national park that surrounds this majestic peak has its own charm in the form lakes and different landscapes which one would normally need to travel miles to savour.

Some sights on the way to the mountain.

Panecillo

A panorama of city of Quito on the way to Cotopaxi

We left for the peak early in the morning and enjoyed the vistas offered by Ecuador’s countryside. The entrance to the park is a steep 10 dollars if you are not a Ecuadorian citizen and do not have the national card. For the Ecuadorian nationals and the ones with Ecuadorian national card the entrance is 2 USD.
At the entrance to the park, where one buys the ticket one has the skull of a few herbivores mounted on poles. Not sure why it has been kept there.

One of the skulls at the entrance

One of the skulls at the entrance

After the entrance begins the long climb, fortunately one can still go in a vehicle, to the parking lot at 4500 meters. Quito is at about 2800 meters above sea level so that is a climb of 1700 meters and it takes as expected quite some. One starts with coniferous trees and one ends up with a bleak landscape as one moves up ahead. If one is lucky one can get a glimpse of peak as one goes up the mountains. But we were not fortunate enough. There was enough of clouds swarming around the peak to deny us a good view of the peak.

Finally we reached the parking lot at 4500 meters after a traversing a winding road. Here we got off and started walking up to the refugee camp which is at a height of 4800 meters. It looked like a easy hike, but it took us all of 50 minutes to scale that hike. But it was nice hauling oneself up the steep slope. There were enough people trying to reach the refugee camp. There were also children as young as 4 – 5 years doing the climb and smaller ones were being carried by the parents.

One of the real Young ones climbing

All covered up and on the way to the top

Some children climbing the Cotopaxi
Some others puffing their way up.

The Refugee camp in the backdrop on the way up

Successful Rajesh at 4810 meters

That one can see birds at this height is really surprising. But here it is.

The snow capped Cotopaxi

The snow above the Refugee camp

The boy celebrating his fourth birthday at the refugee camp. What a birthday gift!!

At the refugee camp they have a small restaurant which serves hot soup and hot chocolate and has a little provisions of biscuits and chocolates. The former were very much required after climbing up the incline and we helped ourselves to hot chocolate and soup based on preference.

After a brief rest we went to explore a little above the refugee camp but we sorely lacked the ability to make any substantial progress. It was freezing cold. So after going up a few meters we went back to the refugee camp and had one more round of soup and hot chocolate and then we started the descent to the parking lot.

When we reached the parking lot we realized that our driver was hungry and so we shared some food that we had brought with us and after partially satisfying his hunger and to some extent ours we headed back to the plains.

On the way stopped at a Lake which offers a spectacle of the surrounding peaks reflected in it. Also there are birds which add to the beauty of the place.

The bird at the Lake Limpiopungo

The Peaks reflected in the waters of the lake

View near the lake

The view at the Lake Limpiopungo

This weekend we went to Cotopaxi, the volcano near Quito, Ecuador. The peak of Cotopaxi is situated at a height of 5800 meters. The volcano is surrounded by the Cotopaxi National Park. The entry to the park is 10USD if one goes without a local Ecudorian ID and if one as a local ID the cost is only 2 USD. So go with your ID if you have one.
One can go in a vehicle upto a height of 4500 meters and from there to the peak, 5800 meters, one has to trek. There is snow throughout the year on the top of the mountain and one needs to have some skill in mountaineering before one can attempt to scale the peak.

The road inside the National Park is not great so be prepared for a hugely bumpy ride to the top. Also have a vehicle in good condition as some climbs are steep and pick one which has a high axle as the road is not smooth. Do not be surprised to see buses going along the way. They are a common site here.

We reached the parking lot of Cotapaxi at around 11:30 AM. Usually one has to climb quite a distance to reach the snow line, but we had snow at the parking lot. There is nothing in the parking lot except for the flat surface where vehicles can park. Nothing to each, nothing to relieve yourself.

It was quite cold and a wind was blowing every now and then which made things worse. Most of us were ill-prepared for this weather and were caught off guards. Some in the group also started feeling the effects of the height and as a result we had to abandon the attempt to scale higher heights.

So come prepared for the climb and do not be caught unawares.

After spending some time in the parking lot and after playing with the snow, many were seeing snow for the first time and so where thrilled at seeing so much snow, we started our downwards journey.

In the national park there is a nice lake (laguna) where one can see a variety of birds. The lake is at a height of 3800 meters. Here we spent some time watching the birds. We also sighted a rabbit here. It offers a very good vista of the national park.

Near the lake there is an area where one gets some refreshment and restrooms to refresh oneself.

Panorama of the Lake Limpiopungo

Duck at the Laguna Limpiopungo

Duck at the Laguna Limpiopungo
Lichen

Vista in National Park Cotopaxi

A Rabbit at the Laguna

Lake Limpiopungo at 3800 meters above sea level


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