A giant that can be seen from a handful of Ecuador’s provinces in the Sierra, this snow-capped peak is truly a marvel to behold from close up. Surrounded by a national park, the 5,897-metre active volcano, which last re-announced its vivacity in 2015 with several weeks of spluttering ash, is the glorious centrepiece of myriad attractions, from sparkling lakes to soaring condors and intriguing communities. Action awaits for the adventurous, with camping, climbing and mountain-biking on the menu.
What to do in Cotopaxi
- Climb to the summit of one of the world’s biggest active volcanoes
- Mountain bike down from the refuge or around the flatter trails of the park
- Gallop alongside wild horses with the volcano as a backdrop on a horseback riding tour
- Spot a legion of birds, from hummingbirds to birds of prey
- Hike around the mirror-like Limpiopungo Lake at the foot of Rumiñahui volcano
Eating and drinking
Eat like a local volcano-side, trying out the myriad variations of corn and hearty pork dishes, and guinea pig for the adventurous. At this altitude heavy drinking isn’t encouraged, but a warming shot of cane liquor wouldn’t go amiss.
The altitude here is no joke, and altitude sickness can mean vomiting, headaches and potentially having to return to a lower altitude. Make sure you’ve given yourself a couple of days in Quito to acclimatise and take it easy on arrival, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and drinking plenty of water.