Cheap Travel Cotopaxi National Park Ecuador
At Tambopaxi Lodge in the middle of the park, where we stopped for lunch, owner Belisario Chiriboga had tales of even more spectacular animals.
"I've never seen a puma but I know they are here because one killed a llama just over there," he said, gesturing in the direction of Cotopaxi. The park rangers came to tell me.
"Mostly the pumas stay over the other side of the park but when they are hungry they come here ... . sometimes I've seen foxes, condors and wild bulls ... "
But the park is dominated by the mountains. Cotopaxi was hiding behind the clouds the day we visited but it did peek out long enough for us to see the spectacular red patch left by the melting of a once massive glacier on its eastern face.
The most spectacular sight, however, came as we left the lagoon and Cecilia, our guide, suddenly gave an excited shout. "Look. Look there. Chimborazo."
We looked, and there, sure enough, was a vast snow-covered mountain.
"That is amazing," she said. "It is always behind the clouds. We only see it like this maybe once a year."
Chimborazo, which towers 6268m above sea level, is an extinct volcano which last erupted some 1500 years ago.
Because of its size the mountain is regarded by the indigenous Andeans as the father of the Andes and its name is generally thought to mean "throne of god".
I later discovered that until the early 19th century Chimborazo was considered to be the highest mountain on earth, and was first climbed in 1880 by Edward Whymper, the chap we met at San Agustin.
These days, Mt Everest is known to be the world's highest peak, but Chimborazo still has one claim to fame. Because of the bulge in the earth around the equator, its summit is the furthest point from the centre of the earth, 2.1km further than Everest.
Ecuador Travel at Agosto 11, 2011 10:33 AM