Cotopaxi National Park

Exactly in front of the bridge which is the entrance gate to the city of Latacunga, a young boy tell us to go up on its rickety bus. It’s early in the morning, we begin the travel towards the covered by snow and perfectly conical top of the Cotopaxi volcano. The road rises inexorably: three, four, five thousand meters, the landscape becomes even more impressive. The silence owns these windy places, lived by the only animals have been able to adapt to the hard Andean climate (alpacas, condors, pumas, wild horses). For a moment we dream to go up till the top of the Cotopaxi crater to dominate an exterminated horizon, but climbing the highest active volcano of the world is not an adventure that could be organized in five minutes… some horses, pride of their freedom, follow us suspiciously while we walk around the Limpiopungo lagoon. Three big condors of the Andes caress the lost in clouds peak of the Rumiñahui volcano, where a warm and blinding sun (the god Inti in the Incaic culture, indeed) tries to open itself the way in the foggy cover.

On the way back we pass near Saquisili, a village which is center of one of the most colored Ecuadorian markets, every Thursday.

Cotopaxi volcano snowcapped National Park Andes Ecuador

In Quito

The Andean landscape becomes extremely variable in the northern part of Ecuador: from semi-desertic valleys to impressive green hills. After hours of roller coaster we reach Otavalo, a village where one of the most important Ecuadorian indigenous markets takes place. We continue towards Quito, the capital, a gem suspended between the snowed peaks of the Andean volcanoes. We are literally conquered by the socio-cultural ferment which enlivens the city, in a few days we know many people, artesanos and people of the street, we talk with NGOs about cooperation, voluntary work and with cultural foundations. We enter in contact with new friends who hopefully will help us to trace a good itinerary towards the eastern Amazon region. We accidentally discover the ethnographic museum managed by the organization Mindalae, an interesting mosaic of the Ecuadorian cultures. From the African influence of the north-western region to the indigenous groups of the forest (Shuar, Siona and Secoya, Achuar, Huaorani), skillful craftsmen of the nature, without forgetting the Andean culture (Quechua).

El condor Andean Condor typical Ecuadorian handicraft