Family Weekend Escape to the Cotopaxi National Park close to Quito
Just an hour and a half driving from Quito heading south there is a special place where you find one of the most visited volcanoes in Ecuador. It is the National Park Cotopaxi, with more than 33 thousand hectares. Another way to get there is by public bus. Those run to Latacunga or Ambato from the Quitumbe bus terminal in the south of Quito.
Once you arrive at the control Chasqui, the Cotopaxi National Park officially begins. From the Panamerican High-way you reach the control point by local 4×4 taxi or pickup trucks. Here you need to register and show your documents to the rangers. In this check point there is also a store with souvenirs and rest room facilities. It is a great place to bring your kids, too because there are plenty possibilities to hike or just enjoyed the nature and beautiful landscape.
South Control “El Chasqui”. Check point at the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park
After the checkpoint we continue through secondary road driving up, our next stop is in the interpretation center where you will find more information and history about the many eruptions of this active Cotopaxi volcano. There are also pictures of a ruins located here and few embalmed animals that are the example of the local fauna of these area. The most impressive example is the biggest bird and representative symbol of Ecuador: The Condor.
Once continued going up there is a picnic area on the left side where it is possible to share food and enjoy a nice lunch with the family surrounded by the beautiful vegetation and the first view of the volcano. From this point some wild horses run around this flat area, announcing us that you are close to the Limpiopungo Lagoon around 4000 meter above sea level. There is a nice trail to take a short hike around the lake for about one or two hours.
People that enjoy the high altitude can continue going up by car searching the parking lot located around 4800 meter high. Here begins another attraction for people that practice one of the extreme sports: down-hill mountain biking. If you brought your bike to Cotopaxi you can this trail downwards. If you didn’t bring your bike you can still book a 1-Day Tour from Quito to Cotopaxi and they will provide you bikes. Those who don’t enjoy the extreme sports can take another hike up to the refuge for about 1 hour. You can reach 5000 meters and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Here could be the end of our day tour in this beautiful landscape.
If you have only one day free in Quito it is a great alternative that I personally suggest and I invite you to discover this wonderful environment. Do not forget to take hiking shoes and warm clothes with you.
- If you go by public bus just go to the bus terminal in Quitumbe located in the south of Quito. The rate costs about US$ 3. You go until the bridge at the Panamerican-High Way then you need to continue by local taxis, that cost around US$ 15.
- Do not forget to take a box lunch, warm clothes, binoculars, and hiking shoes with you.
View of the Cotopaxi Volcano since Limpiopungo Lagoon at 4000 meters above sea level.
Visit the Cotopaxi National Park with your Family!