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// SEPTEMBER 2016
Unspoiled Beauty
Thessaloniki
Bogotá
Bogotá
Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena
Quito
Otavalo
Sigchos
Laguna de Quilitoa
Alausi
Sibambe
Alausi
Cuenca
Guayaquil
Frankfurt
Zipaquirá
Zero point
Quito
Cotopaxi National Park
El Nariz del Diablo

Cotopaxi National Park

 

23rd of September
“Little loaf of bread”

We woke up very early in the morning and after having breakfast in the hotel’s dining room, on the top floor, where we could enjoy excellent views of the city from above, we started a trip to the El Panecillo Hill, (Small Loaf Bread Hill), with the magnificent statue of the Virgin Maria of Quito, hoping to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Unfortunately, the heavy traffic down town and the closed or one-way streets resulted to us repeating the same route again and again for about half an hour, till we eventually gave up and left.


Cotopaxi Volcano!!!

Leaving Quito behind, we drove south, to the foothills of Cotopaxi, which is considered the highest active volcano in the world. We exited the highway (volcano road) at Machachi and headed to the National Park.
 


 

We drove on the cobbled road and, while the altitude was continually escalating, we arrived in our haciendaHacienda Santa Ana.

We were welcomed by Rocio (we had arranged everything through him) and were treated the traditional hot alcoholic beverage canelazo_ warm cocktail made of cinnamon, sugar and naranjilla juice_ perfect for feeling all warmed up and cozy.   
 


Since we were at an altitude of 3.500 mt and surrounded by very low temperatures, canelazo was simply bliss!


We had horse back riding …in a yellow sea!!!

We went to our room, changed clothes and after having put on leather trousers, we climbed up on our horses, ready for a three hours horse back riding with the assistance of our guide, to the hillsides of the volcano Rumiñahui Volcao.


In the beginning, we were moving on the same cobbled road we had driven before, till we started galloping through amazing grass fields.
We rode our horses in a magic area, the Cotopaxi Valley, situated in between the mountains Pasochoa, Ruminahui and Sincholagua. What an amazing horse back riding, within a moving and whispering yellow sea, while the cold wind was blowing…We were simply breathless by the magnificent views (360 °) of the nearby mountains and volcanoes…
A truly magic experience…
Although our cameras froze and we could feel the freezing drizzle to the bone, I would never change what I had lived with anything in the world…
We returned, got some rest and then started our trip to the Cotopaxi Volcano


Every step felt like a huge achievement, at the “Neck of the Moon”

Cotopaxi Volcano. Its name means “Neck of the Moon”…

It is one of the world’s highest volcanoes (elevation 5,897 m) covered by snow during the whole year. It is part of the homonymous National Park with the very rich and distinguished fauna and flora.
Having taken with us the sketch map we were given in our hotel and having covered a beautiful and eerie route, we arrived at the entrance area of the National Park and got certified.
 


 

We continued on a route full of hairpin turns, within the clouds, till we eventually reached the parking area. We left our car there and continued on foot.
Since we already were at an altitude of 4.500 meters , we had to climb only 500 meters aiming to reach Jose F. Rivas Refuge_ the most popular and frequented refuge in Ecuador, on the northern flanks of Cotopaxi Volcano, at a 5.000m altitude, with unique views to the northern Andean highlands.
 


It didn’t seem impossible to cover the less than 500 m which were serarating us from the refuge, although from the level of the parking the climbing looked incredibly steep.
And, indeed, it was, as we realized, as soon as we started walking…Ever step seemed like a titanic labour.



So it did every breath we were taking…
Step by step, we managed to reach 4700 m.
At that point our mobile phones stopped functioning.  

Christos continued climbing for about 50m more, but I was feeling that it would be impossible to do even one step more…So, we stopped, enjoyed the magic views and then climbed down so as to continue our walk to another point of the National Park, to the Limpiopungo Lake.


Perfect cone, rainbow and lamas!!!

We arrived there and then walked on the banks 
 


 

and admired the perfect conical scheme of Cotopaxi Volcano.
We captured the “dramatic” images of the snow topped volcano peak and then took the road back, while enjoying the appearance of a magnificent rainbow.
 


 

When we eventually arrived at the hotel we spent the time we had left till dinner by playing and feeding the lamas of the hacienda.​



 

Next, we enjoyed a coffee and read about the monastery which our hacienda used to be once. The perfect reading next to the fireplace in the very pretty and cozy sitting room…

The dinner that followed was perfect and so was our sleep. A perfect day by all means…

So perfect, that I decided_ for that particular year only_ to carry forward our wedding anniversary from 21/9 to 23/9…But it was just the beginning!

How could I know at that moment that I would feel the same impulse and very soon, actually!

Our 32nd wedding anniversary, in 2017, in Madagascar, would be as extraordinary as this particular one… and I would happily change the date one more time!

 

Country: Colombia
Date: 2016
Route: Colombia-Ecuador
Cities: Thessaloniki, Bogotá, Bogotá, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Quito, Otavalo, Laguna de Limpiopungu, Sigchos, Laguna de Quilitoa, Latacunga, Alausi, Sibambe, Alausi, Cuenca, Guayaquil
Duration: 10
Difficulty:
Population: 49.473.456
Rating:
comments
VIEW
comments
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Country: Colombia
Date: 2016
Route: Colombia-Ecuador
Cities: Thessaloniki, Bogotá, Bogotá, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Quito, Otavalo, Laguna de Limpiopungu, Sigchos, Laguna de Quilitoa, Latacunga, Alausi, Sibambe, Alausi, Cuenca, Guayaquil
Duration: 10
Difficulty:
Population: 49.473.456
Rating:
comments
VIEW
Country: Colombia
Date: 2016
Route: Colombia-Ecuador
Cities: Thessaloniki, Bogotá, Bogotá, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Quito, Otavalo, Laguna de Limpiopungu, Sigchos, Laguna de Quilitoa, Latacunga, Alausi, Sibambe, Alausi, Cuenca, Guayaquil
Duration: 10 days
Difficulty:
Population: 49.473.456
Rating:
comments
VIEW