Here is a shot after leaving the park. Next to the beautiful sign from 1968 announcing the entrance to "National Park Cotopaxi". Cotopaxi is not the tallest mountain in Ecuador but it is right up there. Cheembarazza was the tallest but I was not able to even see it with the visibility. This is the most famous volcanoe in Ecuador because of its proximity to Quito, the 3 million person city.
Before all this, I showed up to Cotopaxi from Banos. I stayed at a hostel called the Secret Garden Cotopaxi for two nights. There is also a Secret Garden in Quito as well. The one in Quito is OK, but the one in Cotopaxi is outstanding. Cotopaxi is a two hour trip from Quito. 75 cents on bus to the small town of Machachi and another 15 dollars to drive you to the Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Once you are there it is one of the most beautiful hostels I have ever been to. 35 bucks a night for a room or if you have your own tent it is 20 dollars. That might seem like a lot but that includes free breakfast, lunch, dinner, unlimited cake and a jacuzzi. Not to mention you are in a national park close to endless mountain hikes, adventures and bicycling opportunities. All the other haciendas in the area are around $100 dollars a night and do not include free food.
I showed up here with my friend John from Alaska. Both of us wanted to summit the volcanoe. We had one friend from New Jersey pay $350 to summit. We were not willing to pay that. We eventually bargained one guide down to $140 bucks a person, with jacket rentals, boots, crampons, ice axe and rope once we were at another hacienda called Tambopaxi. Unfortunately it was still too rich for our blood and we had to pass. We moved to Tambopaxi which is really close to the volcanoe and camped there for seven dollars a night.
Initially it was a failure because the weather is so bad you can never see the peark of the volcanoe. Three days in Cotopaxi and I still hadn't the opportunity to lay my eyes on this beautiful beast. The elevation here was 3,750 meters and the top of the volcanoe was nearly 6000.
These plants found in Cotopaxi are the sister to "Indian Paintbrush" found in the Canadian Rockies.
Finally on the last day before leaving, I woke up in my tent to this view. It got cold at night, about 5 degrees and a huge rainstorm. But it was worth it to lay my eyes on this volcanoe.