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The Snows of Cotopaxi

semi-overcast 23 °C

Cotopaxi in Ecuador is the world’s highest active volcano at nearly 20,000 feet and its permanently snow capped peak is rarely glimpsed through the persistent clouds. But we were lucky…
Cotopaxi has erupted 86 times since colonial records began in the 16th. Century and the resultant lava flows have twice decimated the city of Latacunga some 50 kilometres away.. Giant rocks from previous eruptions are scattered for hundreds of square miles…
The drive from Quevedo to Cotopaxi took us up to 16,000 feet through the spectacularly picturesque scenery of the 110 kilometre Quilotoa Loop…
All of the guidebooks, even the most recent, warn of the road’s dreadful condition and suggest that it is only accessible by hikers, donkeys or Land Rovers. Undaunted by the dire warnings, though somewhat apprehensive, we turned off the main highway and found ourselves on top of the world. If we had heeded the guides’ advice we would never has seen the fantastic emerald lake that has formed in the crater of Quilotoa’s extinct volcano…
Neither would we have discovered that the once notoriously dangerous road is now a safe paved highway with only a few stretches of gravel to shake up granny. All the hard edges have been rounded off and we were treated to matchless vistas of the high mountains…
At the halfway stage of the Loop we stayed at a farm hacienda and were astounded when we were given plastic identity bracelets like those used at busy all-inclusives to stop interlopers getting a free swim or free meals...
We were astounded because, not only were we miles from anywhere, we were also the only guests in the thirty bed hacienda. Any interloper without grey hair and a beard would have stood out a mile with or without a bracelet.

Because of its proximity to the equator only the very highest peaks in this part of the Andes have ever received snow, and it is amazing to see lush vegetation at altitudes that would be well above the tree line at similar elevations in other ranges. The year round temperate climate is ideal for all kinds of horticulture, especially the fabulous roses for which Ecuador is famous…
Now, after driving 2,000 kilometres through some of the world’s highest mountains we are going to take a breather at the seaside. Wish you were here, but hope to see you real soon.

Posted by Hawkson 13:52 Archived in Ecuador

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words aren't enough! What a spectacular trip! Breathtaking photography. I could write a litany. Thank you. Love from Ottawa

by Trudy

How is your breathing at that height. I couldn't breathe in Bogota at 10 thousand feet. You both must have good lungs. love Jean

by Jean McLaren

Spectacular photos, colour and vistas. Cannot believe your luck with shy mountains behind clouds.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Beautiful rose shot!

by Abigail Gossage

Wow! This is beyond stunning. Good for you for taking the chance with the road - another example of how travel delivers such precious life lessons.

We've been following your travels with such interest - what tremendous photos and descriptions.

I'm not even home yet, and I want to start planning our next trip. thanks, Jim and Sheila - much appreciated to be able to share these adventures.

See you in April,
Ginny & Stephen

by millerburr

It's Friday the 13th and you managed to do all that. So you don't suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, eh?

by The Vickerage

I so look forward to your travel diary and today's edition is exceptional. Thanks for sharing all that beauty with us. I had no idea!!!
It will be hard coming down to sea level from such heights of magnificence!!!
See you soon!

by Alison Fitzgerald

Spectacular doesn't even begin to describe it all. Great shots from the panoramas to close ups. Hope you keep the bracelet as a souvenir. I think of all your blogs and travels, these last weeks have revealed the most unexpected of sites and experiences. Quite a trip. Glad you are sharing.

by Tom

I MUST add my "spectaculars" to these comments; makes the heart beat faster. Good for you to just go for it, you truly are professional travellers, know when to take a leap of faith and follow your instincts, and when not..
We're all very lucky to be part of it.
Carry on

by gottfried

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