The place of the week is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world which culminated its last eruption in January 2016.
In previous visits to Cotopaxi, I never reached beyond the parking lot or past a stroll through the Limpiopungo Lagoon. This time it was different. Even though we didn’t reach the summit, we climbed to the first traces of snow, approximately 5050 meters. And it was simpler than it looks like from afar.
We put our last layer of clothing on before we began hiking up. You don’t really need that many layers, the movement of the climb keeps you warm. We chose the zig zag route over the straight path to the shelter and we did it for two reasons: 1. It’s easier. 2. You have the opportunity to appreciate the landscape at different stages of the climb and a greater range of view.
The interesting part of this ascent, other than the condor and other birds that we got to see, was stepping on the red sand that covers most of this part of the climb. Its color is due to the heat emanating from the volcano, incidentally it creates an incredible contrast with the snow.
Once in the shelter, which once seemed impossible to reach, we met many people from many parts of the world. All sitting sharing the experiences and enjoying a hot drink or meal. Some preparing to keep climbing, others taking their time before going back down.
After we caught our breath, we hiked for another half hour and finally reached the icy part which is quite high. Small rivers and a steeper climb made this climb an obstacle for my rubber shoes and my propensity to slip. But the sight, the earth, the stones, the air, everything was worth the little extra physical and mental effort.
The descent was faster and way more fun than the climb. We took great steps that sank our feet in the sand and we glided faster. I almost made it without falling, and I did just before the parking lot where our next adventure was about to begin.
Bicycling after a decade (at least) of not having ridden one was a challenge. The lack of control over the speed and the jumps along the pebbles of the road did not stop us from racing down at great speeds and dangerous braking. In certain parts we took some time to stop and observe our surroundings. We were embraced by mountains, we breathed very pure air, the peaceful energy at the foot of a great threat was undeniable and reassuring. An experience to be kept as a memory and in our list to repeat countless times.
The last stop before returning to Quito was the meeting point in the Limpiopungo Lagoon. We reencountered with many people from all over the world recovering from the descent and enjoying the water and the beautiful Rumiñahui. A few last breaths of this healing air and we retired back to the capital. We thank Ecosportours for taking us on one of their tours to Cotopaxi! Follow them and check what they offer so you can experience Cotopaxi in its fullest. See you soon!
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