Highlights and main attractions of Cotopaxi
The snow-capped peak of Ecuador’s biggest volcano, and indeed the highest active volcano in the world, is visible in the distance from the capital, Quito. Forming part of the Avenue of Volcanoes that runs south of Quito towards Cuenca, Cotopaxi, meaning ‘neck of the moon’ in Incan language, is undoubtedly one of the emblems of Ecuador and carves a perfectly conical shape into the skyline. The national park and countryside that surround the majestic volcano offers excellent hiking, birding and scenic viewpoints as well as an insight into rural indigenous life through its colourful local markets.
With its peak at a soaring 5,897 metres in height, Cotopaxi is arguably the most imposing of all Ecuador’s volcanoes and mountains. It is easily accessed from Quito and the 40-mile journey takes just under two hours by car with the main entrance to Cotopaxi National Park being located just a few kilometres before the town of Lasso.
Some visitors decide to view Cotopaxi as a day trip from the capital, although to fully appreciate the surrounding areas a great option is to stay in one of the local haciendas that open to tourists.