Photo: Dave Lonsdale
Mountain Cotopaxi (5897 m) rises spectacularly along the Eastern cordillera of the Andes mountains chain. Its beautiful conical shape and perpetual snow make it one of the most coveted visitor sites in Ecuador, and it makes sense that it would be. Only an hour and a half drive from the capital, Quito, the slopes of this prodigy of nature couldn’t be more accessible and offer unparalleled adventure on one of the highest points on our planet. Click here for a chance to win an 8-day adventure for two in Ecuador!
Ecuador is proud of Mount Cotopaxi, located just outside of the capital city of Quito. For centuries, it was considered the world’s highest active volcano, at almost 6000 meters (over 19000 feet) above sea level. Vulcanology now considers almost all volcanoes ‘active’, and other active volcanoes in the southern Andes are statistically higher, but few are more picture-perfect.
At about 4 pm, the employees at San Agustín de Callo let the estate llamas out to roam around the hacienda’s beautiful stone courtyard. With their half-dainty, half-clumsy swagger, the camelids hastily make their way towards a clutch of leafy vegetables left out for them. Guests are usually amazed to see so many so close.
In 1802 German explorer Alexander von Humbolt in a visit to Ecuador´s Sierra coined a phrase that is now part of the tourism vocabulary for mainland Ecuador: Avenue of the Volcanoes.
Between the eastern and western cordilleras of the Andes Mountains, along a stretch of 300 kilometers, all of Ecuador’s highest mountain peaks (nine are above 5,000 meters) are part of a protected area, either a national park or an ecological reserve. The mountain peaks are actually volcanoes, both active and inactive, which offer the opportunity to experience their beauty in many ways.