It was a shock to the system to fly from Sani at sea level, then drive along the Avenue of the Volcanoes, to Cotopaxi National park. Time needed to be spent acclimatizing to the altitude and Chilcabamba Lodge was the perfect place to do it. It is a lovely comfortable retreat with the most beautiful views of ever-changing (but fortunately not erupting) Cotopaxi Volcano. Cotopaxi’s most recent activity was in 2015.
There were good walks nearby and lots of spots to sit to watch the many hummingbirds.
Our tiny rented chevy struggled with the roads to the lodge, so we decided a guide (with a 4WD) for the day would be the best way to get closer to the volcano. The national park is quite beautiful, with many birds, wild horses and paramor grasslands. We met Gaby and Manfred, a German couple who have been touring South America for the past 2 years in their very substantial van. They plan to get to Aus one day, hence the kangaroo on the back which attracted us to them.
Looking at the cloud over Cotopaxi, our guide tried to delay our ascent, but unfortunately, for not long enough.
The trek up to the refuge, just below the glacier was pretty bleak – rain, sleet, very strong winds and poor visibility. At 4864m, this was the highest we had been.
Great to reach the top for a coca tea – we were the youngest by about 20 years…
Fortunately the clouds lifted as we left so we could look back to see the refuge on the way down.
We made a very early departure for the Thursday Saquisili Market.
The market is huge, taking over most of the town. There are sections for fish, small animals, fruit and veg.
Guinea pigs are the local delicacy eaten for very special occasions.
The local delicacies were not really our taste
The market is very much a local affair, with everyone dressed in their finery for market day.