COTOPAXI VOLCANO, AT 19,390 ft IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST ACTIVE VOLCANOES IN THE WORLD
only an hour and a half drive from quito [ecuador's capital] lies one of the most unique and pure national parks we have visited. with the cotopaxi volcano being their centerpiece, the park's flora and fauna is mystically intriguing due to the very rich soil. we were able to see a lot of their diverse plants and pine vegetation, but sadly not enough of the native animals that live in the park other than the beautiful wild horses. also commonly found are wolves, pumas, bears, rabbits, condors, and foxes, or the extremely rare high altitude hummingbird that lives in the slopes of the volcano between 13,000 - 15,000 ft.
we checked into the hacienda el porvenir, a cozy spot tucked away just outside of the park. we spent our days here cozied up by the fire, drinking wine, wearing panchos, riding horses through the valley, exploring the park in our car and on foot, playing cards and enjoying the crisp mountain air. next time i would love to mountain bike down the dirt road from the base of the volcano which is offered by most local outfitters.
TAKING A DRIVE TO QUILOTOA LAKE
on our final day in the park we woke up early and drove 3 hours to the stunning quilotoa lake. this is actually part of a bigger trail, the quilotoa loop, however we didn't have enough time to make the full trek. considering making the drive to the lake? we would 100% recommend it! not only is the lake itself actually breathtaking, but the countryside drive is stunning. do be aware that if the clouds come in, they will completely swallow the lake. we watched this happen before our eyes and had we arrived 20 minutes later, we would have missed it all.
ecuador is a country that completely took us by surprise and somewhere i look forward to visiting again soon. so many volcanoes, beautiful beaches, alpine lakes, and the warmest of people.