I had the great opportunity to spend a Sunday in the Cotopaxi National Park, and I have definitely no regrets!

We met our driver and guide, Gerardo in La Mariscal a bit before 7am, and at 7:15 we were on the road. Gerardo asked everyone their names and where they were from, and then gave us some explanations about where we were going, the schedule of the day, and general information.

After less than 15 minutes we stopped to enjoy the landscape from a viewpoint just out of the center. I was able to see the South part of Quito, the one you also observe from the top of the Panecillo. It was sunny and a bit cloudy but the visibility was very clear!

Our next stop was for breakfast. We stopped at a little restaurant that our guide knew, and it was amazing! We had the options of either tea or coffee, a fresh juice, and some tasty food! They also had a vegetarian option, and they were able adapt to food intolerance that are more and more common nowadays.

Then, we headed down to a little shop where we could buy snacks and water. The lunch was scheduled for later, between 2pm and 3pm.

After that, we entered Cotopaxi National Park, and Gerardo began the first explanations about the environment and the animals. It was a brief explanation complete enough that I have an idea of the wildlife in the park, but not too long and boring! We stopped at the Visitors Center where you can find some pictures and discovery games to know more in depth about the area. From there we drove again a bit to reach the Laguna Limpiopungo. From there, we could see the glorious Cotopaxi! From this side, the view was perfect, we could see the top in the clouds, and the glacier. You can even see the refuge where hikers normally go when the Volcano isn’t active.  We hiked for about an hour around the Laguna, where we discovered plants and animals, wild horses and birds. During all this time we could enjoy the beautiful view of Cotopaxi surrounding landscape. What a great time!

After hiking, we went back to the bus, and Gerardo helped us with our helmets and the bikes. We got acclimated with the bikes and then, it was the time! We began with a small incline, but only for a few minutes. After that, it was all downhill! The first part is stony, and the second part is asphalt. The whole way you can take your time, enjoy the landscape, and the breeze. It was not cold at all, and very few cars were present so it was really a pleasure. A bit before the end, we stopped to discover the lava lanes left by the eruptions. Finally, we reach the entrance of the park. After that, it was only a few more minutes until we stopped at the original shop where we had bought snacks and the bus was waiting for us to bring us to lunch. The food once again met our expectations and was delicious.

On the bus ride back to Quito everybody was really quiet and exhausted . We were all enjoying the pictures we had in our minds from this beautiful day!

Written by: Maud Petigas