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  • Writer's pictureSanni & Gerri@

Cotopaxi Nationalpark

After the 6-day acclimatization to the heights in Quito, we set off for our first planned adventure, the Cotopaxi volcano. With the minibus, it goes from Hostel Secret Garden Quito to Secret Garden Cotopaxi, which is very remote in the middle of nowhere with a fantastic view directly of the volcano. Funny enough, we quickly realize that we are a German-speaking bus. In the first week in Quito, we didn't meet any Germans at all and now a whole bus?! OK, not quite. Two fellow travelers are Austrians.

After a bumpy car ride we arrive at Secret Garden and move into our "Hobbit House". It's really super cute and cozy. AND: There is a heater inside. Lucky us because at night it gets cold here with temperatures around 0 degree celsius. A few meters away is probably the coolest toilet we've been to so far! Literally a throne with a direct view of the volcano! The common areas are super cozy with a fireplace in the center! That's the reason why we want to make ourselves comfortable right away. But no way. A hike to the nearest waterfall is already scheduled.


So get into the rubber boots and let's go! Two hours round trip and the path is described as easy and feasible for everyone. Unfortunately, our guide, who worked as a volunteer, does not know exactly the way which lead to a few detours! After a few climbing excercises, we come to the place where you normally cross the river by foot. But since it rained a lot the last days, the water level was too high and our guide reveals that we have to climb along the stone edge for 4 meters to get further! Great, Sanni and climbing. With a little persuasion, however, she gave up her wor Ries and bravely blended into her fate. Another challenge on the way to dizziness and defeating fear of heights! Arriving at the waterfall, we enjoy a really beautiful place. Climbing was worth it. The crazy ones from our group even went for a swim in the ice cold water!


After a very nice evening at the "German-speaking" table, the hike to the glacier of the Cotopaxi is scheduled for the next day. 5,000 meters high. So, as almost everyday, we are going to bed early.

The next morning at 06:00 a.m. it is almost cloudless and so the Cotopaxi rises for the first time visible to us, majestically over the Andes. It is the highest active volcano on earth. Its almost perfect conical form has given him international fame. We are curious how far we can get. The height of 4,400 meters on Rucu Pichincha has already taught us a lesson. Hardly on the way, our very rickety minivan strikes. Only muscle strength helps to get it moving again. We drove through the infinite lava fields to the foot of the crater. The hike started at 4,600 meters. So actually, it is not too far to get to the 5,000 anymore. Far from it. The ascent was a real challenge; but at the same time impressively beautiful. On the way to the mountain we had equipped ourselves with coca leaves from an indigenous merchant. Don't worry, here it is quite legal. At first, it takes some time to get used to the taste, but they really helped in height against headaches and dizziness. Just not against the cold. Actually, we are not winter people at all, but this experience is just great despite snow and sometimes icy winds. The landscape around the crater is so unreal and impressive that we almost forget about the rest. While the descent on the way back through the lava fields, we are rewarded with a radiant view of the "conquered" mountain! We think that was great!

We end the rest of the day comfortably with having the opportunity to visit the llamas living at the hostel. Simply very funny little animals.


Day 3 starts with a very tasty breakfast and then it goes up on horseback. Well, actually not that high at all. There are rather small, sure-footed horses like criollos who know the demanding terrain and are robust powerhouses despite their size. A word about tourist riding abroad. Of course this is debatable and there are certainly good and bad examples. The horses that we have seen here so far seem to be physically lacking for nothing. The animals live freely in herd associations on large pastures. Our guide also keeps his animals in a group in the pasture. The rides with tourists take place once a day and the animals do not have to perform sports, as most riders simply sit on it to explore the landscape at a walking pace. Of course, the horses are far from trained according to our standards. Nor their native riders, who often only ride the animals over the sharp curb. Pictures of pushed backs, tensions and torn mouths are not uncommon. The Gauchos act like that in so many parts of the world, but not out of malice, but out of ignorance. This riding style has been practiced and passed on for ages.

Good for our horses is that we are a very relaxed group who like to trot through the beautiful landscape with hanging reins. Well, admittedly Gerriet and I let ourselves fall back a few times and then roll up the field from behind in a gentle gallop. This is simply too tempting when crossing the grasslands. However, the skill of these little strong horses is particularly impressive when crossing small rivers and meandering along on one or the other slope! We are even lucky to see a wild horse. After the ride, our horses are allowed directly back to their beautiful pasture as a herd, which they visibly enjoy.


*The English version of this blog is supported by automated translation*

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