Central Andes: Cotopaxi Area, Ecuador
William Mackesy’s account of this walk
I made this walk up onto a ridge-flank from Hacinda El Porvenir with my 13 year old son on Christmas Day 2015. This was his first walk at altitude, so our ascent was slow. We were with a local guide, which made a lot of sense as way-finding around here would not have been easy, with the return path quite faint through thick scrub.
We climbed gradually through fields, then lovely low scrubby páramo, replete with flowering shrubs and a good viewing of an Ecuadorian Hillstar hummingbird. The trail zig-zagged more closely on itself than strictly necessary, but what a lovely stretch.
We passed a smart little bullring, incongruous in the middle of nowhere at 4,000m-ish, with earth banked bull pens beside it.
A steepish half hour or so through higher-level rough páramo (caracara seen) get us to a ridge with a view of the peak of Cotopaxi: across a low valley (divided by the deep ditch they use locally instead of fences) is another ridge with God’s own view of Cotopaxi, a vast mass of snow and cloud looming, disconnected and improbable, behind the rough greens of the ridge and the volcanic valley to its north, and south-ish across a beautiful sweep of páramo to Rumiñahui.
Thence we cross high tussocky páramo grassland to a valley which we descend through increasingly lovely, scrubby lower-level páramo and pockets of low red-barked trees back to the top of the farmland. Thence a delightful half-hour traverse back to our start, across the top of cattle pastures, just below a banked-up irrigation channel.
5 hours including lots of rest and view-appreciation stops.