We traveled to our lodge at the base of Volcan Cotopaxi by way of bus and in the back of a pick-up. The bus trip was an adventure in itself. Not being familiar with the long distance bus system in Ecuador we were not aware that you had to ask the driver to stop to drop you off. Plus were not really sure where we were going. As we passed Machachi, which was the town where we were supposed to get off, I turned to Amy and said, “I think I saw the sign for Machachi”. I wasn’t positive so we sat there and debated on what to do next. Over 30 minutes later we stopped in Latacunga where we quickly exited the bus and jumped on a bus going in the opposite direction. Finally getting it right we landed in Machachi and grabbed a pick-up to drive us to the Chilcabamba Lodge. For the next hour we sat in the back of this pick-up and tried not to bruise our butts too much. Let me tell you it wasn’t the smoothest of rides. However, the ride was well worth the effort. Cotopaxi is a beautiful place. It is a wide-open area with wild horses and three towering volcanoes surrounding it, Cotopaxi, Ruminahui, Quilindana, and Antisana. Cotopaxi at 19,348 feet is the highest active volcano in the world. You can imagine the view with these four volcanoes encircling us. The boys were excited because the lodge had some housedogs that they immediately made friends with and named. They also named the local Llama Chucky Chan for his funny kicks.
Throughout our stay you could usually find the boys wandering or running around through the bush with the three dogs. On our first full day we took a horseback ride into the lower mountain region along a river. The boys had a blast. They liked to gallop the most. Tyler would get his horse to lag behind and then get him to gallop to catch up providing loud shouts and squeals. Our 4-hour route that day consisted of crossing rivers, rocks, and open meadows. The landscape was brilliant. The air was fresh and clean at 12,000 plus feet with the volcanoes looming over our heads.
On our second day we hired the pick-up (butts beware!) and had him drive us into the park and let us explore and hike. He drove us to Limpiopungo Lagoon where we hiked the 2-mile trail. Next we were dropped off next to a mountain stream where we hiked until we met up with our driver miles ahead. At this point the weather had turned and was very cold. The rain was falling and the wind was piercing. Unlike us the cows didn’t seem to mind the biting cold. We hurried back to our truck, put back on our warm wool ponchos and proceeded to drive to the old Inca ruin of El Salitre at the top of a hill, which overlooked the Lahars fields.
The weather had changed for the better so we headed up to the top of the hill to have a look. The ruin itself was not very impressive but the view was magnificent. The kids had a tough time leaving Chilcabamba, the Cotopaxi region, and the three dogs.
I think they liked the freedom and the open space. Amy and I would sit outside the lodge and watch the kids running with the dogs. One night Tyler and Nick wanted to show us the “secret area” the dogs had showed them. After we bush wacked our way to the spot we tried to take an easier way back. Unfortunately that way led straight into a bunch of cows. Amy freaked out because she thought they were bulls. I informed her that all the cows had horns and not to worry but the three dogs (Moo-Moo, Patchy, and Lion) would scare the cows away. Chilcabamba was a rustic place where we all could stretch and not have a care in the world.