We decided to try and avoid the busy roads and found ourselves on a lovely quiet backroad which went through the town of Mulalo to the South entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park.
It was a nice surpirse, as we had been expecting to have to ride on the Panamerican highway some of the way. On arrival at the park entrance, we had to show our passports but didn´t have to pay any entrance fee - as we had been expecting.
We cycled up the newly sealed road and finally found ourselves at the visitors centre. It was a steady climb and a strong headwind. The lady at the visitors information centre, informed us it was another 5 minutes up the road (by car that is). The now gravel road was rough and steep and the headwind was giving us a run for our money. However, before we knew it, we spotted the campsite and chose to camp next to two lots of travellers. One in a very flash jeep - all kitted out for touring, and a cute little yellow VW combi. One couple was from Germany and the other from France.
Our cozy campsite for the next 3 nights. Cotopaxi in the background.
Cooking up eggs for dinner and lunches
We enjoyed chatting to our fellow neighbours and were very lucky to have the German couple upload the Ecuador maps onto our GPS... something that we had spent all too many hours trying to do!
Look what we woke to!
We decided to hitch a ride to the car park near the top of Cotopaxi where we would then walk up a very steep track to the Refugio at 4800m
The first car we flagged down stopped and we jump on the back. It was invigourating!
What a view and what a day!
Climbing the steep track up to the refugio from the car park. Even though we had been at this altitude many times, our lungs still burned and we had to move so slowly.
From the refugio it is possible to walk another 15mins or so up to the glacier. As dumb as it was, they wouldn´t let us pass without a guide. We managed to find a nice guide who let us join their group and walked up the .... not very steep and not at all dangerous route to the glacier.
Even the girls came along for the walk
Heading back down to the carpark was a lot easier and lots of fun - running in the loose scoria
We decided to walk back down to the campground crosscountry... instead of taking the road. We enjoyed a nice lunch away from the crowds and sheltered from the wind.
It was steep in parts but amazingly beautiful and peaceful.
Just us and the wildlife.
The next morning we awoke to drizzle and low cloud. Our German friends headed back to Quito and our French friends had left the night before. It was just us and Volcano Ruminahui which we intended to climb. We waited and waited for the cloud to lift and finally by lunchtime it did. whoop whoop.
we quickly packed our bags, equipped with our newly loaded GPS, headed off into the hills.
It was a clear path to the summit of Volcan Ruminahui at 4721m, but quite technical over the last 200m of climb. At the top we were disappointed that the cloud had rolled in and we had no views. However, we were happy to be able to have reached the summit.
As we had left quite late in the day, we had to make a quick descent back into the valley below and enjoyed running through the tussock
The view back down to the valley and Laguna Limpiopungo were stunning. All of the tourists were gone (many come and walk around the lake) and it was beautiful
We arrived back at camp just on dark. It was weird having the whole place to ourselves. We had to cook in the dark but it was worth it.
Our last day in the park, we awoke to deer very close to our tent. We used up the last of our fuel on a cup of coffee and packed up ready for the descent out of the park and towards Quito.
We were over the moon to find ourselves on a single track bike trail which ran parallel to the bumpy gravel road. We had huge smiles on our faces
Once out of the park we hit this cobbled road. We were both amazed at how long it went for .... and how long it must have taken to build.... but were also both quite over it as it was super bumpy and not too comfortable to ride. We wished we had had our full suspension Treks for the first time!
We passed many farms and expansive haciendas
Debbie winning Tour de France!!!
We could have got to Quito today, but were not quite ready for our last day of cycling... and the busy bustling city. We found a nice hostel in the town of Sangolqui 13km out of Quito!