El Huevito’s Cotopaxian Adventures.

I count Cotopaxi National Park amongst my favourite places in Ecuador – and even South America.

Sure, it’s not exactly off the beaten track, popular as it is with climbers attempting to scale the perfectly conical Volcán Cotopaxi – up at 5897m – or hikers out for an afternoon ramble. But the experience of riding through this high altitude moorland – amongst mosses, lichens and páramo grasses – is one that never fails to leave an impression. Simply being there is a real treat. Luckily for me, I spent my 41st birthday enjoying the area. Although we weren’t blessed with the best of weather, and Cotopaxi rarely showed herself, it was still a beautiful ride.

Inclement conditions aside, the National Park also makes a great setting for family outings. Once the plateaux (3400m+) has been reached, the riding is relatively mellow and almost completely traffic free, especially mid-week. Distances are short, leaving ample time for off-the-bike explorations. There’s plenty of water to be found, including a crystal clean spring. And, there’s a few abandoned houses dotted here and there in which to seek refuge if the heaven’s should open, as well the shelter of a midway chosa at the foot of the ruins of this former Incan staging post.

Tarp Life

Seeing as our Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 was being repaired, we borrowed a tarp from the Dammers. In fact, it was an old fly sheet from a Eureka tent, that happened to work perfectly strung across a bike. Although a bit of a squeeze for three – with a bike dividing living space – being able to pitch it quickly and avoid sudden showers. Like all tarps, at night it suffered from Ecuador’s super humidity. Still, I love the simplicity and minimal weight of tarps – I’d definitely consider bringing my Black Diamond Mega Light on the next trip, assuming it’s in a bug and critter free area.

Camping options are restricted in the park – and no wild camping is allowed. Hostería Tambopaxi (3750m) charges $7 per person for a spot, which is very reasonable given it includes access to a wood-burning pot belly stove to dry out damp gear, piping hot showers, and even wifi. Budget travellers will find food is expensive though. My three course birthday dinner cost $17, which is a small fortune compared to usual Ecuadorian prices. But the location is second to none, and I have to admit it was delicious and worth every penny.

There are various other haciendas with camping options just outside the gates of the park, including several that are easy to access from the north gate. Prices are similarly high, but such toasty spots are a good bail out options if the weather really caves in. We also celebrated Sage’s first night in an abandoned house, on the outskirts of the park.

Route-wise, we rode in from close to Pintag, entered the park across the Pita river, made a loop, exited via the North Gate, then descended to Machachi to pick up the bus.

Entry to the park is free.

If you would like to keep up with where I am between tardy blog entries, I keep my While Out Riding Facebook page more regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. You can find it here. Occasionally, I post pictures on my Instagram feed. And if you haven’t overdosed by then, I’ve also started a While Out Riding Tumblr edition, focusing on images. 

IMG_0196-2

IMG_0597

IMG_0986-3

tumblr_njkqr85qrV1tlk3cyo10_1280

tumblr_njjz26vh6k1tlk3cyo2_1280

IMG_1362

IMG_9358

IMG_1096

IMG_9209

IMG_9110

IMG_8191

IMG_9370-2

IMG_9290

IMG_0924

IMG_1240

IMG_1447-2

IMG_1657

IMG_1703

IMG_1736-2

IMG_0348

IMG_0611

IMG_0324

IMG_9430

IMG_9437

IMG_9473

IMG_0490

IMG_9933-3

IMG_8790

IMG_8849

IMG_8866

IMG_9743

IMG_9702IMG_9531  IMG_9592

IMG_9653

IMG_9660

IMG_9965

IMG_9825-2

4 thoughts on “El Huevito’s Cotopaxian Adventures.

  1. Cass Gilbert Post author

    Thanks Bridget! Such trips are never without their challenges, but we’re starting to get into the groove. Sage is (like most toddlers, I expect) a voracious explorer. A couple of times a day, we’d let him walk/potter/run while we pushed the bikes. We also often played football before we headed out, to help burn off some of that limitless energy.

    Thankfully he loves camping, and is a good sleeper.

    Reply
  2. Jamie Brockway

    As Bridget Commented, simply inspiring stuff. Love reading the blog. I will hopefully have a chance to have a chat with Cass in Dorset next weekend, which I look forward to.

    Reply
  3. Fede Cabrera

    Hola Cass,

    Greetings from Bahia Blanca! I’m heading back to Tierra del Fuego to continue my trip and my WarmShower’s host is building a DIY trailer, in order to carry all his gear in a Carbon Fiber bike. I told him the best option would be to use “bikepacking bags” but he’s not into “lightweight traveling”, just yet.

    By any chance, do you’ve an image showing how Sage’s trailer attaches the bike?

    Thanks,
    Fede Cabrera
    http://www.theironlyportrait.com

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *