Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cotapaxi

On my last day in Quito I did a day trip to Cotapaxi, an active volcano. You can do the climb over several days if you like mountains and snow and sleeping outside all the time. The day trips just go to 5,000m, which is where the glacier starts. That is still pretty high and fucking cold. I was advised to buy some gloves in preparation.



You just can’t buy quality Chinese products for $2! This happened before I even left the hostel.

The bus took us to Cotapaxi National Park, where of course we stopped at the entrance so we could go to the souvenir shop. Then we headed up the mountain to the carpark, where the bus stopped and we got out and walked for about an hour to the refuge, which was at approximately 4,800m.




This was a tough walk given the altitude. You can’t really go fast and if you do, you get dizzy and have to rest. Also, did I mention it's fucking cold? I had to borrow a sexy scarf off a guide to put over my ears since the wind was hurting them so much. That hasn't happened since I rode my bike in winter in the UK!






At the refuge point, we had a slight rest before continuing up to the bottom of the glacier. This takes another half hour or so.




At the furthest point we visited, it was snowing for a few minutes.





I also noticed that some South American women wear really inappropriate footwear for climbing mountains. Like high heel boots. Granted they were wedges, but wedges are still heels. As if you’d do that! I noticed this on the waterfalls tour in Banos too. Some women were wearing heels on slippery rocks. Don't get me wrong, I love high heels as much as the next Carrie Bradshaw, but there’s a time and a place ladies. A time and a place.

Anyway, after we took our photos of the glacier, we walked back down, which was obviously way quicker and the sun came out a bit providing some nice photo opportunities.






Then we drove down the mountain a short way before they unloaded the mountain bikes from the roof of the bus and we got to ride down the mountain. While it was quite fun, I've decided that mountain biking is not my most favourite thing. It was pretty bumpy and every time a car passed, you breathed in a lot of dust from the dirt road. I have to say, I prefer my point A to B city commutes on my hybrid bike.



Overall, I enjoyed my day trip to Cotapaxi. This volcano experience was different to when I climbed the volcano in Pucon. Climbing to the summit was extremely difficult and I have no desire to do that again.

Julian Assange's new home?
It's a national park, so no.

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