Another early start today (yawn)…Rafael said we would have a better chance to have open skies if we left early in the morning so we left at 7 am from Cafe Cultura. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, a cloudy morning with a bit of rain seem to be the forecast for the rest of our day.
The way to Cotopaxi was a bit too long for my taste, after entering the National Park it took us about 1 hour and a half extra to get to the Parking lot from where we would start our hike. The road was totally destroyed because of the rains and our 4×4 had trouble with the snow! However, Rafa handled it with great care and we made it safe! I must say, despite the bad road, we had the luck of having a clear day and the Cotopaxi was just Majestic.
I was feeling horrible at this point, as soon as we got down from the car I started to feel short of breath and lightheaded. We had hydrated often as recommended but still felt aweful. Rafael gave me this “panela” water, apparently it is an sugar-cane based block of sweet that indigenous people use on horses (YES, ON HORSES) to give them energy at heights. I got to tell ya, it was a great remedy! I did not feel good right away but as I started walking the light-head was gone, but I still felt short of breath. So little by little, we made it from 4500m (aprox 15000 ft) to 4800 m (aprox 16000 ft) to the Jose Rivas Shelter.
The way to the next hacienda was also a bit long, almost one hour to get there. Here we had our lunch and then dressed up as “Chagras” (I am not sure if this is how you write it) which are the traditional cowboys from the highlands hahaha. The place was gorgeous, an hacienda in the middle of the mountains from where we could see Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui (barely though it got cloudy but cleared from time to time) but the horseback ride was great!
We left for La Cienega outside of the National Park. A beautiful historic hacienda where Humboldt stayed back in the days. Another perfect ending for a great day!