Biking around Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador

Cotopaxi volcano trip is something a lot of visitors do, especially on weekends, so if you go - make sure you choose work days and someone who has a bit more alternative plan to offer, otherwise your visit will consist of a bus ride through Cotopaxi National Park along with 10 other tourist buses.

We were lucky we could arrange the visit through our friend Israel who we met at the biological research station in Cosanga. Israel doesn't work with gringo tourists, he helps to organize adventure trips for visitors from Colombia, therefore with his services there's no usual gringo tour bullshit. 

When we told Israel that we'd like to go to Cotopaxi for 2 days, he organized everything we would need within one hour, and by noon we were all ready to go starting from Quito. First, we stopped by Israel's house on the way to Cotopaxi to pick up sleeping bags, tent, bikes and other equipment. All that was loaded into a pickup truck which would then take us to the Cotopaxi National Park from where we biked on our own.

Seeing volcano in its full size depends on the weather, for us it was quite cloudy so we were able to see only 3rd part of it. Nevertheless, the park itself is amazing as well - the scenery makes you think you're on another planet altogether - desert hills rolling, sand blowing, huge boulders scattered around the shrubs and covered in moss that grows in curious, almost alien-like designs. Beautiful!

After the park we headed down the mountains on our bikes. The roads are mostly dirt, with some stones and cobbled in some places. Going downhill on mountain bikes is incredibly fun - the speed + dirt road give it quite a lot of adrenaline. The landscapes are beautiful - sometimes it's deserted nothingness and sometimes it's all about charming little valleys. Among this nothingness and mountain valleys there are a couple of farms which raise bulls for bull fights. Those beasts are huge and made to be mean. And they also roam around the valleys freely which we didn't know when we headed downhill. Some of them happened to be grazing right on our path, so there was no other way but to face them - needless to say, adrenaline boost was guaranteed if we wanted to pass them on our bikes. Fortunately, we managed to get through without any losses :)

Around sunset time we arrived to a small village where the local "president" gave us permission to camp by the basketball field - such a nice guy! :) So we put up our tent, collected some wood, made fire and cooked some camping appropriate food. Next morning we were invited to Israel's friend's house in the village to have our breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate and a proper bathroom.

After the breakfast we ventured to hike about 10km to see some waterfalls nearby. These waterfalls are part of a private property, but Israel seems to have friends everywhere, so we were able to enter the property freely. 

Getting back to the civilization at the base of the mountains took a while - our butts were aching badly from the previous day biking and there were quite a lot of uphill biking as well. But we made it! This was a brilliant experience and we couldn't have done it without Israel. The butt hurt for some more time, but it kept reminding us of our awesome 100km biking adventure.