My name is Lucas Scott and I’m from Ecuador. I was born in a little town called Garcia Moreno in the north of the country, but today I live close to Cotopaxi National Park – which is why it’s my favorite place in Ecuador.
I’m 28 years old and have been traveling and telling stories for the last four years. Also, I work as a sports photographer in races like trail running, climbing and cycling. Photography for me started as a consequence of climbing mountains and because I had this curiosity for the universe.
Another reason why I fell in love with photography is because my own country of Ecuador is just a beautiful place to capture. It’s beautiful in many different ways. Firstly, the ecosystem is diverse and incredible – we are just a small little country but we have the ocean, the jungle and the Andes Mountains all really close together (only three/four hours from each other).
For that reason we have awesome landscapes, vegetation in high altitudes and unpredictable (but amazing) weather. If you take a road trip through Ecuador the landscape is going to change drastically in just two hours, no matter the direction you take. Let’s not forget the Galapagos Islands too!
Why Cotopaxi National Park is Special to Me
I don’t know how many times I have visited Cotopaxi National Park now, but for sure it would be more than 100 times. The reasons I always come back here are simple: it’s incredibly beautiful to be there, you can see other mountains apart from Cotopaxi, discover new animals, marvel at epic night skies, feel at peace and realize how small you are in comparison to nature.
I have three favorite spots in the park that are just perfect for me. One of them is the oriental face of Cotopaxi because it’s so wild, remote and the weather is savage! The view is quite different and the glacier is unreal.
The second spot I love is the north face, located closer to the entrance. There is a tiny river there and even a small waterfall. I love this place because it’s a great place to go camping – you have water access, a stunning view and it’s close to where you can park your car. A final place worth mentioning is the top of Cotopaxi for its views and crater!
3 Best Hikes in Cotopaxi National Park
A great hike to take in the national park is to Ruminahui Volcano. From there you can see Cotopaxi from a different perspective. Another fantastic hike for those who want a real adventure is to walk or cycle around the volcano for two days. You will never forget this experience! A third must-do hike is to walk to the refuge, then head to the top (but only with a guide).
I remember the first time I climbed Cotopaxi. It was so hard but at the top I started crying because (despite not having a great sunrise and having cloud cover) the sense of accomplishment was just overwhelming. This climb is always special, even when it’s raining. I can find beauty in the madness, and time never goes backward – so why not do it all?!
Where to Stay in the Area – Towns & Hotels
The perfect town for me near Cotopaxi National Park is a place called Machachi. From there you can see other mountains and for that reason it’s called the “town of nine volcanoes”. You can find some pretty sweet hotels here but the one that I recommend most is called Hotel Tambopaxi Lodge. Hotel Tambopaxi Lodge is actually located inside Cotopaxi National Park.
Other cool places include Hacienda Los Mortinos, situated one kilometer from the entrance. This hotel has epic views. Hacienda El Porvenir by Tierra del Volcán is amazing too. Here you see other volcanoes and Cotopaxi is super impressive from this perspective. If you want to stay in Machachi, I recommend a little hotel called Chiguac which is for backpackers.
Awesome Places to Visit near Cotopaxi
There is so much to do in Ecuador and close to Cotopaxi National Park – you have many volcanoes, trails, rivers and waterfalls. Pasochoa Volcano, for example, is perfect for those looking to acclimatize to higher climbs. It’s not too hard and you can do the summit in a day which is an added bonus.
Quilotoa Lake is another beautiful destination nearby. The hike around the crater, which is a lagoon, is easy and you can complete it in less than four hours. And finally, Illiniza Volcano which offers a hike to a refuge in two hours, and you can see Cotopaxi and other mountains from this spot.
Need to Know Before you Go
The weather is dramatic and unpredictable in this national park, so try to arrive early when the park opens at 8am. Make an itinerary for the first few hours of the day. This way you will have a better chance of seeing Cotopaxi without clouds. But never put all of your faith in the weather apps and predictions – they might predict a terrible day but it turns out to be sunny!
When heading to higher altitudes, try and bring some chocolate or sweets (along with plenty of water). This will give you a much needed energy boost. Don’t forget to bring a jacket and raincoat, just in case it rains. Lastly, bring your most energetic self to Cotopaxi National Park. You want to enjoy nature in the moment, without worrying too much about the weather.