Cotopaxi National Park & Surroundings

About

Cotopaxi shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow which shines so brilliantly at sunset it seems detached from the azure of the sky.

Cotopaxi Province

The hollow occupied by the province of Cotopaxi is the fourth from the north, housing some of the most extensive grasslands, wide valleys such as Patate, Tiopullo, Sigchos, Chugchillan, among others. Cotopaxi volcano (altitude 5,897 m / 19,350 ft), is one of the highest active volcanoes and a mecca for mountain climbers. The volcano lies within 33,393-hectare (82,515-ac). A national park created to protect the fragile wet forest and habitat of the endangered Andean condor and spectacled bear, white tail deers, andean rabbits as some of the wildlife there. It is one of the most popular of Ecuador reserves.

Other volcanoes such as Ilinizas, Quilinda, Corazon, Atacazo, complement the landscape al ltogether with turquoise color and extraordinary group of lakes like Quilotoa crater lake or Yambo lake, near Salcedo Town by the Pan-American highway. The capital provinces Latacunga, Ambato, Guaranda and Riobamba cities gather the major business districts and population, the area sticks an average 2,800 m – 9,186 ft. on altitude with mainly warm and pleasant, but sometimes windy and cold weather (from 12c° to 16c°).

Getting Around

Cozy hostels and beautiful traditional haciendas in the region offer comfortable lodging and numerous activities such as horseback riding, biking, trekking, and visits to typical country villages, nearby rose plantations and local markets.

History & Culture

Early History

“Cotopaxi shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow which shines so brilliantly at sunset it seems detached from the azure of the sky.” -Alexander von Humboldt, 1802

Despite its colonial look, most of Latacunga architecture dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century a fact owed to Cotopaxi repeated and devastating eruptions, which have seen the town destroyed and rebuilt five times since its foundation in 1534, most recently in 1877.

Highlights

Latacunga

Latacunga (2800m) is a charming, mid-sized market town huddled on the east bank of the Cutuchi River. With its handsome, colonial-style buildings and bustling streets, it makes an agreeable base from which to organize forays into this part of the sierra highland, in particular to the not-to-miss crater lake at Quilotoa, or to the hectic indigenous market in nearby to Saquisilí.

 

Saquisilí Market

The Saquisilí weekly market (closer to Latacunga) is one of the most exhilarating in the region. Every Thursday hundreds of indigenous people fill the streets to sell their colorful handicrafts as well as their fresh crops and live-stock. Close to the town of Pujilí is the village of Tigua, where many artisans are devoted to the art painted on sheep hides, depicting daily life scenes, legends and villages fiestas against a bright background of colored mountains and fields.

 

Hacienda San Agustín de Callo

One hour apart from Quito nestled within the Volcanoes Avenue stands this unique hacienda, San Agustín de Callo, built on the site of an Inca palace, and one of the most important archaeological Inca sites of Ecuador. The location of the site at the foot of Cotopaxi, highest active volcano in the world, near Indian villages and local markets, with its historical significance and archaeological value and its architectural blend of unusual styles contribute to make San Agustin a unique and magical place to stay.

 

Cotopaxi National Park

The Cotopaxi National Park is a massive nature reserve and the most popular in Ecuador after Galapagos Islands, it encompasses an area of 33.393 ha. and extends into the Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Napo provinces. The park is also well known for the four volcanoes within its bounds. Located beside Cotopaxi National Park is El Boliche National Recreational Area. This stunning park possesses a natural wonder surrounded by Cotopaxi Volcano with its altitude of 19.348ft (highest active in the world).

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