Hiking and cycling on the highest active volcano of the world:

Every city or every bigger region has it, this one landmark, which presents the area like nothing else. For New York it is the famous Empire State Building, for London it is the Big Ben and for Sydney it is of course the Opera House. It might be different for other people, but for me the Cotopaxi is THE landmark of Quito, or maybe even of Ecuador. Even though it is a bit further away from Quito, when it is clear it is possible to see this majestic beauty with its snowy top in the distance and it just makes me smile J

So as it is one of my favorite landmarks and as it was my first time climbing a volcano I was really excited. I went on the tour with a really nice group of people and we had a lot of fun together. Slowly we walked the easier zig-zag route, so our bodies could acclimatize to the height. Luckily we all handled the altitude well and it felt like with every step we could enjoy a more spectacular view.

Reaching the Refugio José Rivas was a great feeling! We were all really proud and took several “triumphing” pictures in front of the wooden sign, which states that we achieved to hike up to 4864 meters. As the snow cover was much denser above the Refugio a friend of mine and I used the time to hike a bit higher and take some pictures in the snow. Who thought that we would be able to “play in the snow” in South America?

When walking down the Cotopaxi, we did not take the zig zag route, but the straight-down route through the sandy subgrade, where we sank in a little bit with every step. I took the hand of my friend and we jumped with great steps through the sandy ground – just like little kids. This was a lot of fun!

Unfortunately it started to rain, as soon as our group reached the parking lot. However, we got on the mountain bikes and cycled down the last part of the volcano. The mud of the road splattered in all directions and from minute to minute we looked more like real mud monsters. The day ended with dirty clothes and happy faces and hearts.