The honor to be called the highest on the planet and at the same time active and permanent volcano belongs to Cotopaxi (Kotopakh or Kotopaxi). The volcano is located in South America and is one of the numerous vertices of the Cordillera Mountain chain (Cordillera). The perfect snowy cone is visible at a distance of over 50 km, it is a national symbol and attracts numerous tourists and climbers from around the world.
Where is located, how to get
The current volcano is located on the territory of Ecuador (Ecuador) 45 km from the capital, Quito (Quito). Coordinates of the natural object on the map 0 ° 41'3 "Yu. sh., 78 ° 26'14 "s.
The terrain around the volcano is announced by the National Reserve, it covers the area in three provinces - Pichincha (Pichinch), Napa (NAPO), Kotopakha (Cotopaxi).
To get to volcanic slopes, you need to visit the reserve. One entrance is located in the north and is located near the city of Machachi (Machachi), where from the capital leads the Pan American highway E-35. From Machachi, you must go to the side of Loreto Pedregal (Pedregal), from which the dirt road leads to the end point of the route.
Another entrance is arranged near the city of Lasso (Lasso), it is suitable for those who intend to get into the museum or to speak in campsites. To do this, it is necessary to drive on the E-35 highway to Latacunga (Latakung) to the 42nd km. There bent a dirt path in the park, on the route there are signs.
Control Service Telephone (03) 305-3596. The entrance ticket to the park for foreign citizens is $ 10, a taxi trip from the entrance to the reserve to the observation platform at an altitude of over 3000 m - $ 30-35.
From Quito can be reached by public transport. Buses depart from the Terminal de Buses Quitumbe intercity terminal. It is required to choose flights in the southern direction. It is 1.5-2 hours will have to go, the driver will stop stopping if it is warned. To the entrance to the park will have to go from the track a few kilometers on foot.
Most often, tourists come to admire the volcanic groups. Ecuadorian tour operators collect excursions to Quito and Latacunga, the program is designed for 10-12 hours
The Cotopaxi volcano is located in the Andes mountain system, its height is 5897 m above sea level. For a long time it was considered the second highest, and the palm belonged to the extinct volcano Chimborazo (Chimborazo). However, now scientists have unanimously decided to consider Cotopaxi the highest active volcano.
Near Cotopaxi there are two more active volcanoes - Rumiñahui (Rumiñahui) with a height of 4722 m and Mururco (Mururko) (4880 m). 33 thousand hectares around Cotopaxi became part of the state-protected national park "Cotopaxi", it was created in 1975
Cotopaxi is an exemplary stratovolcano - it is a symmetrical cone, which has a foot area of 19x16 km. However, its northwestern side is slightly steeper than its southeastern side.
With the help of radiocarbon diagnostics, scientists managed to establish the age of the volcano, it is slightly more than 10,000 years old. The rock formation is based on igneous rocks - basaltic andesites, dacites and rhyolites. The rocks have a layered porous structure, so during the eruption the volcano changes its shape and height.
The volcano acquired its modern appearance about 5000 years ago after a major collapse. At the top are several craters, or calderas, of almost regular round shape. The oldest crater is 450 m deep and 800x550 m in diameter. Inside this formation is a smaller and younger crater.
The highest point of the volcano is located on the northern side of the crater. On the southern slope, at an altitude of about 4700 m, there is a rocky ledge, which the locals call the "Head of the Inca". It is believed that this was the original summit of the volcano.
Despite Ecuador's equatorial climate, the ice and snow cap on the summit of Cotopaxi never melts. The snow line starts at a height of 4700 m and extends to the summit. At the top, three air currents directed in different directions simultaneously act, which form strong winds. The top is often covered with clouds and fog, you can have a good look at the volcano and its snow cap no more than 8-10 days a month.
From the top, deep valleys descend down, which are formed by mud flows, volcanic sand, pumice and lava. The soil in the valleys has a rich black color. Small shrub vegetation predominates, the main ecosystem on the slopes and around Cotopaxi is moorland. On the surface of the stratovolcano originates a large river Cutuchi (Kutuchi) and several smaller streams that supply fresh water to nearby cities.
In addition to the beauty of the Kotopakh notable in that it regularly wakes up and actively throws into the space ashes, smoke, gas, lava. Experts are constantly observed for the behavior of the volcano, weather stations. A major eruption confirmed by the annals of 1537 was the first in the registered volcanic chronicle.
Significant destruction in the surrounding cities occurred due to the eruptions of 1532 and 1742. In April 1768, a high column of ashes and a couple rose from Zherla Volcano, lava flowed across the slopes, the eruption was accompanied by a strong earthquake. The city of Latacunga, like the small villages nearby, was completely destroyed. The village streams reached the coast of the Pacific Ocean, overcoming more than 240 km. A similar force, the eruption occurred in 1877
Another eruption with devastating consequences was recorded in 1904
in the XXI century. Kotopakhi also woke up: in August 2015, over 20 thousand tons of ashes, water vapor and fumaroid gases were thrown into the height of 18 km. After that, for 2 years of climbing on the slopes of the Kotopakhs were prohibited. Alpinist and tourist raises resumed only in 2016, when a decrease in the level of volcanic activity was recorded.
Many nations of Ecuador considered Kotophakh Sacred Mountain. There are several versions of the origin of the name of the huge volcano. The name of the name of the Kicwa tribe language indicates the "neck of the moon", the people of Kechua Kechopakh means "brilliant", or "smoking", mountain.
The Europeans first tried to rise to the top of the Kotopakh in 1802. German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and Botanist from France Eme Bonplan conquered the next door to Pichinchu Volcano (Pichinc) and explored his crater. But on the slopes of Kotopakh, scientists managed to rise only to the mark of 4500 m. It did not work out to defeat the top and scientist Moritz Wagneru in 1858
to conquer the Ecuadorian volcano managed to the German geologist Wilhelm Ris, it happened 70 years. He studied the Andean ridge on the territory of the two countries - Colombia and Ecuador.
The first conqueror of Kotopakh Wilhelm Raised to the top of the volcano in November 1872, together with the Columbia Partner Angela Escobar. A year later, the German geologist Moritz Stübel and 4 locals were visited here.
In 1880, a British climber and 2 Italian guides first spent on top. In 1903, the artists Rudolf Scherateter and Hans Meier, which then repeatedly drawing their impressive slopes were raised.
in the XX century. The ascents became a tourist attraction that did not require special training. But in Easter Sunday 1996a tragedy occurred: the glacier, warmed by the sun, fell down, killing 13 tourists.
Climatic conditions, the best time for a trip
Cotopaxi volcano is located almost on the equator, at the foot of the mountain there is a subequatorial belt, and at the top - a belt of eternal snows. The features of the mountain-equatorial climate of the volcano are shown in the table.
|Climate zone||Precipitation||Temperature regime||Features|
|At the foot of the marine humid climate||3000-7000 mm per year, most of it falls in the period May-November||+15 °С||Alternation of dry and wet seasons.|
|Moderate climate at altitudes up to 3000 m||1000 mm per year||+8 °C||Significant daily temperature fluctuations|
|Alpine belt at an altitude of 3500-4500 m||300-600 mm, strong evaporation.||+3 °C||Daily fluctuations from plus during the day to frost and snowfall at night.|
|Above 4500 m - a belt of snow and ice.||200-250 mm per year, more common in summer.||-7 - 0 °С||Non-melting ice and snow, frost.|
Climbers climb all year round, but physically unprepared and unequipped tourists are advised to do it in summer or early winter, December and January. During these periods, the summit is quite dry, although there are often strong winds in summer, while air masses are not so active in winter. In other seasons the weather is unfavorable for climbing.
Cotopaxi Volcano is famous for the fact that on its top there is a large glacier, which starts at 4700-4900 m., according to experts, about 0.5 cubic meters. km of ice. Periodically, ice-snow avalanches and mudflows descend. The snow cap can be seen from afar, because the sun's rays are refracted by the ice cover, which does not melt due to low temperatures, and are reflected, creating a brilliant effect.
The peculiarity of the temperature regime on the ice cap of the volcano also determined the peculiarities of climbing to this peak. During the day, the processes of melting the snow cover intensify, which makes it almost impossible to conquer the height. Therefore, tourists go on routes late at night in order to overcome the path to the highest point in the dark, along a strong snow and ice cover. At dawn, travelers are at the top and immediately begin their descent.
The Cotopaxi Glacier feeds many small meandering rivers: San Pedro (San Pedro), Cutuchi (Kutuchi), Pita (Pita), Tamboyacu (Tamboyachi), Pedregal (Pedregal), Tambo (Tambo), as well as Lake Santo -Domingo (Santo Domingo), Limpiopungo (Limpiopungo), Cajas (Cajas).
Flora and fauna
Cotopaxi National Park was created as a place for the conservation of Ecuadorian endemics. On the territory there are 17 species of mammals and 37 species of birds, unique plants grow on the surface of the mountain, from the foot to the top.
The western side of the mountain is covered with the so-called "rain" jungle, where cocoa and coffee, bananas, palm trees grow at an altitude of up to 4800 m, rubber trees and eucalyptus trees, various ferns and mushrooms. On the eastern slope there are coniferous trees, small shrubs, lichens, mosses, deer grass. The leaves of many plants are covered in down or thorns to retain heat and minimize moisture loss. In the park at the foot of the volcano grows alstroemeria, or lily of the Incas.
Llamas, wild horses, Andean weasels, skunks and rabbits, collared and white-bearded peccaries, large and red mazama, Peruvian deer live on the territory of the national reserve, heather wolves live among predators and pumas.
Quite often marsupial mice and foxes are found. Condors, hawks, lapwings, kestrels, kylikos, hummingbirds soar in the sky. Mandolin ducks, coots, gulls, Andean ducks and suckers live on the reservoirs. The world of reptiles is represented by lizards, frogs, snakes, including a rare marsupial tree frog, a representative of high mountain fauna.
Cotopaxi Volcano is located near the city of Quito, where local tour operators offer a variety of programs for visiting the park:
- 1- day tour with ascent to the glacier to a height of 5000 m (50 $).
- 6-day tour climbing 4 peaks, including Cotopaxi. The cost with transfers and overnight stays is $ 1360.
- 10-day tour with visits to 4 peaks and excursions (2450 $).
The infrastructure of the park provides for various opportunities for pastime - from professional mountaineering to amateur weekend walks, a lot of signs help you navigate the spacious territory.
The main route runs along the northern slope. You can admire the scenery without even climbing to the top. From the mark of 4500 m, picturesque views of the park and neighboring mountains open up, there is an observation deck here. Excursion routes do not provide for climbing higher up the slope, while this height can be reached by taxi (one way $ 30) or a rented car.
Next, the route leads to the top of the Kotopakh, and the road is only suitable for climbers. From the height of 4500 m, the athletes are walking along the path (on the way 45-90 minutes.) To the parking lot, which was built in 1971 at an altitude of 4864 m to prevent the occurrence of mountainous disease. Parking was called in honor of the Venezuelan leader Jose Rivas Refugio (Jose Ribas Refuchio), there are relaxing rooms, designed for several people, dining room, souvenirs are sold.
The route to the top of the stratovulkan has a 4WD marking and requires the use of insurance, "cats", stairs. The road is cut off by cracks and ice dips, suspended bridges are stretched through them, so the accompaniment of the certified guide is required for safe lifting.
when climbing, according to the advice of travelers, proper equipment is needed, which includes:
- safety glasses;
- Thermal underwear;
- Moisture-resistant gloves and cap / balaclava;
- unproduced and waterproof jacket;
- Warm sweater and pants;
- Special shoes and "Cats".
For ease of movement, trekking sticks and ice ax. All this can be taken in the box office.
Environmental tourism is actively developing in the National Park, tourists are actively developing, tourists are offered:
- Climbing Rumiñahui Peak (Ruminyakhui).
- Lifting to Mount Sincholagua (Sincolagua).
- Hiking around Limpiopungo Lagoon (Lympiopungo). Lagoon of 200 hectares is at an altitude of 3855 m, from the shores a view at the same time at the same 3 mountain peaks.
- In the eastern part of the reserve, traces of kotopakh eruptions are preserved. From here you can admire the Canyon of the Pita River (Piet) and Encantado Valley (Encantado). On the river is allowed fishing (skip required).
- Museum Mariscal Sucre is near the northern entrance to the reserve. Souvenir shops work here.
- Numerous bicycle tracks are laid on dirt roads, it is possible to start from the Jose Rivas shelter (4864 m).
- horseback riding ($ 1).
Avenue of volcanoes - so called the road from Quito (Quito) to the south of the discoverer A. Humboldt. During the trip you can see 9 of the highest vertices of Ecuador, including the Kotopakh. This is one of the demanded tourist routes, designed for several days.
Where to stay
Kotopakh volcano is located near Quito cities (Quito) and Machachi (Macchai). Many tourists prefer to stay in these colorful Ecuadorian settlements. The average cost of accommodation in Quito is $20-25, in Machachi - $12-18.
Those who intend to enjoy the beauty of Cotopaxi National Park day and night are advised to choose one of the accommodations directly in the park:
- Set up your own tent near any trail ($5/day).
- Jose Ribas high-mountainous shelter for climbers, the cost of accommodation is $10.
- Camping La Rinconada area de camping, located at the foot of the mountain at the entrance to the park area, the cost of accommodation is $ 7 / day.
According to tourists, on weekends campsites are filled with Ecuadorians. On the border of the park are hotels, many of which are built in the Andean style and offer a variety of services to tourists.
Travelers leave positive feedback about the following hotels:
- Mini-hotel Tambopaxi in the northern part near the entrance to the park and Lake Limpiopungo. There are rooms Standard, Studio, Suite, Family, cost from $85. There is a restaurant and a laundry service.
- Hotel Refugio de Montana (17 rooms, restaurant), price from $10.
- Hotel Tierra Del Volcano Hacienda Porvenir. There are Standard and Suite rooms, a restaurant, a spa center. The price of rooms is from $50.
- Hacienda San Agustin de Callo. Rooms Standard, Suite and Deluxe Suite for 1-6 people. Cost from 120 $. There is a restaurant, bar, massage.
- Rondador Cotopaxi. Rooms Standard, Family at an altitude of 4000 m above sea level. Price from $35. There is a restaurant, bar, terrace.
- Hacienda Los Mortinos 2 km from the park. Rooms Standard, double, shared rooms. Cost from $25. There is a restaurant.
- Rondador Cotopaxi Hotel is 200 meters from the entrance to the park. There is a restaurant. You can stay in rooms of the category Standard, Family, price from $21.
Hotels often offer additional services such as guided bike tours and bike rentals, volcano tours, and massages.
- The volcano enters the Pacific ring of fire.
- The highest recorded speed of the mudflow from the top of Cotopaxi was 27 km/h.
- There is a legend among the locals that the volcano helped stop the battle. In 1534, during a clash between the Incas and the Spaniards, an eruption began. The soldiers fled together from the battlefield.
- Even before the arrival of the Incas, the volcano was revered by local tribes, it was believed that gods lived on top, giving fertility.
- The American artist Frederick Church dedicated a painting to the volcanic eruption, trying to convey to the audience the scale of the event. The picture, written in 1862, made a huge impression on the public.
- The poet Walter Turner wrote a poem in which he calls Cotopaxi the most romantic place.
- The American writers Herbert Wells and Robert Silverberg mention the volcano in their works, and everywhere its eruption becomes the beginning of terrible disasters.
- Rock band The Mars Volta (USA) wrote the song "Cotopaxi".
Cotopaxi Volcano is the pride of Ecuador. Stratovolcano is located near the capital and international airports of the country, so tourists from different countries actively visit the unique attraction. In the national park, organized near the volcano, guests are offered to admire the flora and fauna, take walks, bike rides, climb Cotopaxi and other volcanoes that are located in the vicinity.
Video about the volcano
Cotopaxi through the eyes of a tourist: