With the streets now safe again (the Ecuadorian president had regained control of his police force) we jumped on a bus to Cotopaxi National Park, home to Volcano Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. We had considered climbing to the snow covered summit (5900m above sea level) but later dismissed the idea because it's just too bloody high!
We opted for a more achievable goal of reaching the ice glacier, still pretty high at 5000m. The volcano is a perfect cone shape with steep rocky slopes and the climb was tough and slow. There's not much oxygen this high so you get very tired very quickly and regular rests to get your breath back are unavoidable. Eventually we reached the refuge - now only a few hundred meters to get to the glacier. But there was a problem, the weather was turning bad and snow was about to blow in. We were told we couldn't continue our climb as it would be unsafe due to the weather conditions. This was a shame, but at least we got to climb most of the way and the views over the national park were amazing.
Our hostel was the "Secret Garden" - a eco-friendly place miles from anywhere with a fantastic view of Cotopaxi Volcano. The cabins have no electricity, so it was back-to-basics with candle light and the glow from the wood burner. The perfect place for a little rest and relaxation!
Check out ‘Ecuador - Cotopaxi’ at http://gallery.me.com/peterjprice/101746