Where are we?

White topped Vocanō Cotopaxi

Volcán Cotopaxi

Monday Nov 18

We got to Cotopaxi National Park just after lunch. Traffic in Quito was pretty busy, at least this time I wasn't going to let maps.me decide the route out of Quito, because again it was taking us thru windy roads and old sections of the city - the way we came in - not good! So I mapped us out towards the main highway aways on one phone, then on the other phone I started from that spot to another spot outside the city. Once Dwayne got to the end of the first route I switched phones and he continued on with route 2! LOL!! I can beat that dumb maps.me!!  Just have to go in small sections and plan out our route out instead of letting the app do it 😂

The PanAmerican highway - which has now become 8 LANES!! 4 each way- takes us to the National Park which is about 50kms from Quito.  Once we get to the gate we check in and find out there is no entrance fee. I had read it was $10US. Great!  We drive about 5kms and then the pavement ends and it is now gravel. We see alot of cars that are leaving the park with snow on the roofs!  It is raining but I guess further up it is snowing. Funny thing is hearing thunder and seeing snow!  We can just see Cotopaxi thru the clouds.

Volcán Cotopaxi is one of 10 volcanos along the PanAmerican highway corridor known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It's height is 5900m (19500').  Second highest volcano in Ecuador. The highest being Chimborazo at 6263m (20,500') which is further south and on our route. Our first stop is at Laguna Limpiopungo which is gets it's water from the melting glacier of Cotopaxi. And there is ALOT of snow around today! Making walking a little tricky on the boardwalk! There is a dirt path that goes around the lake but it's to wet and snowy. But we do finally get to see the top of the volcano!! This one is beautifully white on the top 😍

Not sure why 4 lanes each way is needed -but it's nice :)

First glimpse of Cotopaxi but still has cloud cover

Looking towards the east and the snowy flat open areas

Road towards Laguna Limpiopungo

Yup, another snowball tossed at me!

Boardwalk towards the viewing deck of the lake

Vanna in the White! 😂😂

Laguna Limpiopungo

Clouds are finally lifting

Looking towards the west at the storm clouds moving away from us
The roads being gravel are pretty mucky from the snow. There is a road that goes higher - up to 4800m(15,750') and from there you can walk to the edge of a glacier but we figure the road is not something we should take Vanna on because of the snow. And it's not like we've NEVER seen snow or a glacier ;)  So we park at the side of the road and have lunch. It's so nice to be able to see the top of Volcán Cotopaxi, which last erupted only a few years ago - August 2015 until Jan 2016.   

We are at 4000m (13,000') and can feel it. We both have slight headaches. After we have our lunch we start to drive back down to the park gate. On the way we see a spot that I read on IOverlander that is for camping within the trees, there are not alot of trees up here.  We drive there and find a level spot. It's still raining and it is cool outside, not sure but we figure it will go below 0C up here tonight. We decide to forget about staying up here tonight since we dont need any problems with frozen water lines or trying to stay warm!  We head for the park gate again and will stay there for the night in the parking lot.  But when we get there it's only 4pm. Seems to early to park and just sit - so I find a place half way to our next stop - Baños (no it's not a place full of bathrooms!!). It's a gas station but says it has wifi :) So off we go. 

Cute llama owned by a nearby hostel

The spot we found with some trees

Even get pictures of deer near the spot

As we start travelling down to the main gate there are lots of pine trees here
It's only about an hours drive.  We can still see darks clouds and lightning to the west of us. When we are about 5kms from our stop there is a very long lineup on the highway now that we are back to 4 lanes. As we creep along we soon see that the highway has flooded from a sudden downpour which also included hail when we look to the side of the road! This really slows down the traffic but is still passable.  

some leftover hail on the side of the highway

We get to the gas station and check to see if it's ok to park for the night - no problem.  I asked for a wifi password but she said she didnt know it.  I had seen a password on IOverlander so I checked for that and tried it - nope not working now. I thought I would try the name of the station and add 2019 - and BAM! I am in! LOL!!!  I'm such a hacker!! 😂

So I check out more info online about our next stop at Baños where there are many thermal hot springs. Also suppose to be a cute little town. I found a place we can park that sounds nice and we can spend a few days there. maybe indulge and have a massage 😍 Want to be there before the weekend since it's a popular place to go for Ecuadorians.

We also get to watch Netflix so this is a great free spot for the night!

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