Monday, 7 December 2009

Sunday 6th December

Yey....we can start trekking!!!

All packed and good to go at 8.30. Picked up by Ricardo and Miguel (Miguel is our guide, but Ricardo is the travel agent - an ex-climber - business is slow so he has joined us).

Drove down Pan-American highway to the Cotopaxi National Park. This is a chain of volcanoes between 3800m & 5800m. We climbed up to Cotopaxi refuge (4800m), on the last 800 metres it was tough just taking little steps - one in front of the other....endlessly. Altitude does weird things to your body, your heart is going like mad even standing still, occasionally your body involuntarily takes a huge breath, like it has an internal override switch, and (annoyingly) you need to pee constantly.

We walked from the mountain via a small lake to the old hacienda where we're going to stay for the night. It has to get electricity from a generator, water from the stream, but has internet access (!). Walk was great Miguel tells entertaining stories of the Spanish conquest and Inca treasure like he was there. Saw loads of Andean endemic birds; teal, sandpiper, lapwing and a caracara (large hawk) on the nest with young. Also wild bulls fighting - a little scary even from a distance.

Off to a well-deserved bed.

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