A trip to the Cotopaxi Volcano National Park is one of the most popular activities among tourists in Ecuador. The landscape, flora and fauna have turned it into one of the most beautiful parks in South America.
The park is located in the center of the Andes. If you are at Quito (the capital) it is 50 km to the southeast.
What to See
The park is set at an altitude of over 3,500 meters. When visiting the park, you will see open grasslands and woodlands. The Paramo landscape is one of the most vital features of the park.
Several species endemic in the Andes can be seen. Brocket deer, spectacled bears and condors are some of the most popular. Visitors to the park may also see rabbits, white tail deer and foxes.
Aside from enjoying the attractions in the park, you can also camp in the area. These have been specially designed for those who want to spend more time there. Most of the camping sites can be found in the western area of the site.
The volcano is the biggest attraction at the Cotopaxi Volcano National Park. It reaches a height of over 6,000 meters. While the volcano is active, it is limited to steam fumaroles. There is a protected zone with several peaks over 4,000 meters high.
The volcano is 100 km to the south of the equator.
The climate varies, and it is determined by the altitude. Over 4,500 m there is snow. The most widely visited areas however, does not go over 20 degrees. But during the evenings, the temperature will reach freezing levels. From December to March, it is summer time. But this is marked by occasional rain.
The admission fee to the park is 10 USD. There is an additional fee if you want to climb the volcano. Guides are necessary to climb the volcano.
You may also want to check out the Cotopaxi Museum and Visitor Center. The museum showcases stuffed animals commonly seen in the area. There is also information about the volcano. The Limpiopungo Lagoon provides you with a spectacular view of the whole area. You will also see some condors and seagulls.
When visiting the Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, do not forget to check out the Inca ruins at the southeast end. This used to be a fortress the Incas utilized to manage the armies and goods that went by.