Today we head to Cotopaxi National Park, one of the most beautiful protected areas of Ecuador. On a clear day, you might see Cotopaxi’s peak from parts of Quito, but its majesty is only clearly revealed from within the borders of the park. When the weather cooperates, views of its snow-capped, nearly symmetrical summit cone are awe-inspiring.
We start at the Pita River. This river gives life to hundreds of thousands of Quiteñios (as Ecuador capital city residents are known), and its source is the pristine glacial meltwater of Volcan Cotopaxi. Its rushing waters will guide us throughout much of our adventure. This is a special and beautiful hike, but it’s more than just the beauty and activity. By hiking here, we are working to conserve the Pita River. We hike to raise awareness for both locals and visitors alike about the importance of this water, how conserving it is important, and how melting glaciers will impact our population.
The hike enters the Cotopaxi National Park towards an archeological site called Pucara de Salitre, where we can see a variety of migrant and resident Andean bird life. On the way, we might see some of the wild horses, deer or llamas that make the park their home, as well as gorgeous seasonal mountain wildflowers and breathtaking scenery.
We will spend time at the water’s edge of the Pita and the natural springs at the park, admiring classic views of Cotopaxi Volcano or perhaps the reflection of Rumiñahui Mount in its waters. During our adventure, we will stop to enjoy a picnic in the crisp alpine environment.
We will finish our exploration at our next cosy mountain lodge, Tambopaxi.
Hiking time today is approximately 5 hours.