2007 - The Year of Spending Dangerously! travel blog

Courtyard of the Hacienda San Augustin de Callo

Nice chaps!

Chagra Dale

A Rare Clear Day over Cotapaxi

Dale fends off one of the few beggars we've seen

We won't be going to the top!

Heading to the Refugio

Looking down from Cotapaxi at the surrounding "Paramo"

Nearly at the Refugio with Cotapaxi above

Still breathing at 4800m

Pam with guide Luis at 5000m

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 5.03 MB)

San Augustin de Callo

(MP4 - 2.87 MB)

Walking up Cotapaxi to the Refugio

(MP4 - 2.49 MB)

5000m above sea level

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The paramo and Laguna de Limpiopungo

We spent the last 3 days at an amazing hacienda (Hacienda San Agustin de Callo) about 5 km from Cotapaxi National Park. The Hacienda was built on the site of an Incan Temple and the walls in some of the rooms are the original Incan walls. It is a very expensive place to stay compared to most accomodation in Ecuador but the attention to detail at the hacienda was incredible. Our room had murals on the walls, fireplaces in both the bedroom and huge bathroom and a big bouquet of fresh roses. When we returned from the great dinners of typical Ecuadoran food in the Incan dining room, we would find both fireplaces lit, the bed turned down and cozy hot warter bottles warming the bed. There were friendly dogs, horses, llamas and geese wandering about the farm.

Our first afternoon was spent horse back riding through the countryside near the hacienda which gave us a good idea of how the local people live. The next day we were picked up by a local guide who drove us into Cotapaxi National Park and up to the parking area below the refugio that is used by climbers getting acclimatized before attempting to summit the volcano. This is a serious undertaking, one that requires a guide, crampons (most of the route is on ice) and a few days of altitude acclimatization. We didn't come prepared to climb to the top but we did go to the toe of the glacier at 5000m (the summit is close to 5900m). The altitude didn't seem to affect us too much although the hike from the parking area to the refugio was difficult because it was in loose scree and into a really strong wind. Other tourists didn't appear to fare as well as us, we passed several people doubled over and gasping for breath. Cotopaxi is considered an active volcano. Although it hasn't had a major eruption since the late 1800s, old lava flows are visible below the elelvation of the glacier, there are rock `bombs' scattered for miles around the volcano and it has that stereotypical conical shape. Just the small hike we did was a great experience, we've definitely never been as high as 5000m before! After the walk on the volcano we hiked around a lake on the `paramo'(high mountain plain) below the volcano, saw several species of unusual birds and a deer.

The next day we did a short cycle on the roads around the hacienda, cycling past broccoli crops, many rose farms and people grazing their sheep, goats and burros along the edge of the road (presumably they don't own their own land and have to use whatever public land they can find).

We're back in Quito now for one night and this afternoon we took in an exhibit of panoramic photographs by an Ecuadoran photographer named Jorge Anhalzar. The photos were incredible, many taken from an ultralight plane that he was flying while he took the photos.

We ate dinner at a restaurant that wouldn't be out of place in more ¨modern¨ cities like New York or Vancouver. It was called Zazu and our guide book described it as Peruvian Fusion food. It was excellent! Very bright and modern and the chef is indeed from Peru. We arrived earlier than most Ecuadorans which worked out well because the chef came out and introduced himself and then recommended we try his 7 course seafood tasting menu. He came back and explained how each course was prepared as it was brought to us. It was all very good, with a couple of dishes that really stood out. Not the kind of restaurant we expected to find in Ecuador!

We're heading North to the famous market town of Otavalo tomorrow.

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