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Family Hiking in Cotopaxi National Park

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 20:14

Emma Morgan, co-founder of Original Ecuador, shares with us her recent experiences of hiking in the Cotopaxi region with her 8 year old daughter.

First Impressions

Emma-at-Cotopaxi-VolcanoWhen I first came to Ecuador back in 1999, a visit to Cotopaxi National Park was one of the highlights of our trip – a chance to get up close to an active volcano, one of the world’s highest and most beautiful – with it’s perfectly cone shaped, snowy summit.

I can remember arriving, and immediately feeling the thinness of the air, pulling on my hat and fleece and enjoying a truly magical moment where the clouds parted to reveal the snow-capped volcano in all its glory. I quickly snapped away with my camera and within a few minutes the clouds had closed back around the summit once again, but it didn’t matter, I had been privileged enough to catch a glimpse of the Cotopaxi Volcano, something which I will never forget.

It’s a hard job…

In the last couple of months I have been lucky enough to visit Cotopaxi on a number of occasions to explore, experience and hike through many different parts of this region. It’s a part of my job that I love, being out in the field and experiencing first-hand the beauty of Ecuador. Being able to share these experiences with Emilia, my 8 year old daughter, has given me a great perspective on what families can achieve and enjoy when they come to Ecuador on holiday.

Ruminahui Hike

Ruminahui-VolcanoApproaching the ‘North Control’ of the Cotopaxi National Park back in December 2013, we particularly enjoyed a 2 hour hike from a Hacienda Porvenir through the Andean ‘paramo’. Following the course of a gushing mountain stream, with vast views across the green volcanic foothills, we came to a section of Andean forest within which we discovered an impressive hidden waterfall, (led mainly by our ears!) From here we headed back out into the open, up onto a small ridge, which offered not only great views of Cotopaxi and its impressive glaciers, but also the three peaks of the Ruminahui Volcano, not to mention Sincholagua and Pasachoa. I mean, you are literally surrounded by volcanoes here.

Hacienda Yanahurco

Cotopaxi-Volcano-from-YanahurcoOver New Year we were lucky enough to be invited to stay at Hacienda Yanahurco, located next to the Cotopaxi National Park. The hacienda is reached after a two hour four-wheel-drive adventure from Cotopaxi’s north entrance. It is remote, extreme, freezing and unbelievably beautiful. We walked and trekked the trails of the hacienda enjoying the stark beauty of the paramos . Cotopaxi looks different from this side, the wild horses and reindeers were a highlight for all of us, especially Emilia. They are incredibly hardy creatures to live and survive in such a stark and wild environment.

Limpiopungo Lake Walk

Limpiopungo-Lake-Hike-CotopaxiLast week we were back hiking in Cotopaxi once again, this time we entered via the South Control Point – along this route a paved road takes you right into the heart of the national park. We decided to head straight up to the highest point which you can reach by vehicle with the idea of trying to walk up to the snow line of the volcano. This is about a 2 hour hike at the moment (it varies as the snow-line varies) but starting at 4500m it proved to be too big a challenge, even for a little girl who so desperately wants to play in the snow for the first time! You win some, you lose some.

So after a quick change of plan we headed down to the Limpiopungo Lake, a beautifully serene spot at the base of the volcano. It was a little cold and windy as we started our one hour hike around the lake, but soon the sun came out to warm us up and the trail led us into a sheltered valley where we could happily watch the Blue Winged Teals and other waterfowl doing their thing. All in all a great little walk along a well-made trail with little wooden bridges and look out points to keep the kids interested. And all under the watchful eye of the ever present Cotopaxi Volcano.


Cotopaxi-VolcanoWe have been incredibly blessed with amazing weather within Cotopaxi during our recent visits, each time we have been lucky enough to have clear views of the volcano and I know that this isn’t always the case, especially when I think back to my first visit and the brief glimpse I was afforded. As for my daughter Emilia, for her to be able to experience a volcano first hand, witness the extremeness of the Andean paramos and the wildlife that thrives here, look onto real-life glaciers, that has to be a blessing too.

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