There is a great sense of satisfaction in arriving with our bikes at a altitude of 4500m above sea level, one that is marginally tempered by the fact that we arrived, with our bikes, in a 4×4 belonging to the Biking Dutchman, who treated us to an excellent day out despite the failure of the weather to co-operate.
Its perfect cone towering over the city and the ever present threat of an eruption, Volcán Cotopaxi is an impressive sight when not covered in cloud.
We were happy enough not to witness at close quarters an eruption, though we were told that the official activity level had recently been raised and one – which could well threaten the city of Quito – is expected in the next few years.
Despite being downhill, the road was challenging at times, especially for Ailsa (only 9 at the time).
The fierce cold of the 4500m parking spot under the cone gave way quickly to a pleasant warmth and then an oppressive heat, so that by the time we reached lunch at a guard hut at the entrance to the national park and a light rain started to fall the coolness of it was a relief.
Julie and Ailsa opted to take the car in the afternoon, fortunate because with yet another puncture we were running out of spare parts for the bikes.
Síle was happy to carry on, clearly enjoying the chance to get out into the country.
The afternoon’s descent was more varied, passing along a river valley and through farmland, with some small ascents that reminded us that, at over 3000m, the air was still thinner than we were used to although the mist and rain were not – hence, no photos from the afternoon. Tired but content, we headed back to pack for the highlight of our trip to Ecuador, the Galapagos the next morning.