The Cotopaxi National Park, named after the highest active volcano in Ecuador, is the habitat for many endangered alpine flowers.
The Cotopaxi Volcano
It is an almost ominous sight when the clouds above the Cotopaxi glow red at night in the glow of the fire in the volcano crater. Because usually, the highest active volcano in the world hides the top of its almost perfectly shaped cone behind the clouds. Only a small cone next to it, the Cabeza del Inca, disturbs the symmetry. The 5,897 high volcano has already done a lot of damage. The Cotopaxi rarely remained calm for more than 15 years. The vast and open grassland in the mountains was often destroyed by earthquakes or buried under ash and lava. The entire cone of the mountain consists of dark layers of solidified lava interspersed with lighter layers of ash. At the bottom of its 366 meters deep, inner crater, the boiling lava is constantly bubbling and huge clouds of steam rise again and again. The outer flanks of the mountain are covered with a thick layer of snow. Today, the Cotopaxi is the goal of many mountaineering expeditions accompanied by mountain guides.
Flora and fauna of Cotopaxi National Park
The 23-kilometer foot of the Cotopaxi lies in the 334-square-kilometer Cotopaxi National Park. This lovely nature park full of lakes and meltwater rivers is the most visited nature reserve in Ecuador, but you do not encounter many people there. The vast valleys in the Cotopaxi National Park are covered with heather and trees. The valleys of the Cotopaxi National Park are no lower than 3,400 meters. This makes these valleys an ideal habitat for the rare and protected chuquiragua, a spiny aster with orange flowers. The natives used this plant as a medicine for stomach and intestinal complaints. In the higher elevated areas, white-tailed deer occasionally jump through the bushes. You will also encounter many lamas here. With a bit of luck, you can see the 1.5-meter king condor in the Cotopaxi National Park. These birds have a wingspan of three meters.
Things you should know about Cotopaxi National Park
- Almost no tourist infrastructure
- Climbing the Cotopaxi is possible with a native guide
- The temperature in the Cotopaxi National Park is around 7 degrees during the day and around 0 degrees during the night
- It always freezes on the mountain tops
Things you can do in Cotopaxi National Park
- Mountain Sports
- Observing birds and animals