GTAT – 18 – QUITO
Avenue of the Volcanoes & Cotopaxi
Full day – Private Services
From your hotel, we leave the city of Quito behind as we travel to the valleys below. The Avenue of the Volcanoes opens before us, while we head south towards the next province. Clouds fill the valleys like steaming cauldrons, and the Avenue of Volcanoes shows the way towards Cotopaxi, the neck of the moon (in an ancient indigenous language).
After passing the town of Machachi, we will drive to cross a pass that takes us to the Cotopaxi province, from which the imposing colossus is already visible. As we enter the national park, our drive brings us out onto the plain of Laguna de Limpiopungo, a lake fed by water from the volcano Rumiñahui which towers over it.
It is thought that the Inca Rumiñahui hid his gold up on the mountain. Many search parties have set out to find it, some never to be seen again. At the water’s edge the park wildlife comes to drink; ducks, swallows, frogs and toads, and you may spot an eagle or even the great Andean Condor.
From Lake Limpiopungo we will walk for about one hour (or have a short drive with our transport, depending on the weather) over fairly flat terrain to the Incan ruins of Pucará, a lookout fortress used to control the communication route from the highlands into the Amazon Jungle.
If the sky is clear we can spy beautiful views of Cotopaxi and the surrounding volcanoes; Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, Pasachoa and with luck, the shy Antisana. As we walk across the páramo, we might see hawks, foxes, llamas and maybe deer. At Pucará our guide will tell us the legends of these ruins, and we will have a rest, including a cup of tea and a snack.
HORSEBACK RIDING (Two hours)
After our visit, we leave the National Park through its northern entrance to reach the nearby Hacienda “El Porvenir,” where we will be welcomed with a hot beverage and take a moment to stretch our legs before starting our horse trek. The guide will be happy to answer any questions while we prepare for our ride by; dressing in true ‘chagra’ style, in chaps, ponchos, and hats.
Our trek begins as we ride out over farmland toward the volcano, Rumiñahui, until we come to the moor. Our ride will take us over pastures where bulls graze, wild horses roam, and Andean birds take flight, to reach an altitude of 4100 meters above sea level. We will then return to the Hacienda. This activity takes approximately two hours.