The morning after we returned from Alausi we were off again to visit Cotopaxi, a volcano south of Quito. Cotopaxi is the second highest summit in the country and an active volcano. It was a special trip for me because my grandfather had climbed Cotopaxi and it was my first trip there - it was amazing to feel so close to his past. We first went to the wrong entrance of the park and visited with some llamas before heading to the main entrance. Once there, we were told that without a proper guide we would not be allowed to the base of the volcano. Our driver shook on it that he wouldn't take us that far and we were allowed in. We went as far as the lagoon with the wild horses and convinced him to let us out to wander. Eric and I split up as he jumped a ravine to get closer (his legs are MUCH longer), and I went to find some horses. It was cloudy but there were moments when you could see the peak and it was beautiful. The rocks and foliage were amazing, not to mention the wild horses which we were able to get much closer to on our way out. It was cold and rainy and after about two hours of exploring we called it and headed to lunch. We definitely plan on going back someday to climb to at least the glacier (one of very few on the equator), if not all the way to the peak!
Lunch was at Hacienda la Cienega, an incredibly beautiful hacienda near Cotopaxi, which despite many years of eruptions remained intact. The hacienda was used as a residence in the 1700's by scientists studying the volcano and you can clearly see the peak from it's front balconies.