After Quito came Latacunga, a town about 100 kilometres south of the capital. Latacunga as a town isn’t exactly bursting with tourist attractions but it is an important hub for anyone wanting to visit some of Ecuador’s most popular natural attractions: (1) Cotopaxi volcano, (2) Chimborazo volcano and (3) Quilotoa Crater Lake….
We did plan to make our way to Cotopaxi National park independently, maybe camp near the volcano and save some money but apparently a guide is needed to enter the park, so we ended up paying for a guided day trip. The day started at 8am when we set off towards Cotopaxi, first stopping off at a local market. The market wasn’t quite what we were hoping for and the locals didn’t seem so happy to see us taking photos, so we moved on quickly. Next up was a mini museum in the park where we learned that Latacunga, the town we were staying in, used to be at around 900m above sea level but after a few major eruptions over the past centuries it now sits above 2000m. We also got to know that the last major eruption was just over one hundred years ago and the next big one is expected any time soon. After our little lesson in the volcano and its activity we drove up to the car park and started our shorter hike to the refuge at 4800m. Once there, lots of photos and maybe a few selfies were taken before we walked up to as far as the guide would let us, just over 5000m where the glacier started. A spectacular view and the freedom of total silence when we finally manage to hold our breath in the thin air!