55 km south of Quito is the Cotopaxi National Park, named after the volcano (5,911 meters high) that is very present everywhere. After Galapagos, it is the most visited park and therefore has good facilities. The Cotopaxi is the most climbed mountain peak in Ecuador. It is also the highest active volcano in the world!
There are two entrances. Almost everyone visits the park through the south entrance because the road is paved. It is nicer to enter through the north entrance and to leave through the south. At the southern entrance of the park (a few miles from the panamericana road to Latacunga) you will also find a nursery of llamas and vicuñas. A little further you will find a small exhibition building and a little higher you come to Lake Limpiopungo, where it is nice to walk.
cotopaxi You can climb the top of the Cotopaxi under the guidance of a good guide, if you are in good physical condition. You do have to take two days for it: you sleep in the mountain hut at 4800 meters (altitude sickness is a real risk) and start the next morning around two o’clock to reach the top around 10 o’clock. More details click here
But the average visitor can already enjoy the beautiful views and the impressive emptiness of the high mountains.
Here is a nice picture of Tambopaxi, a small hotel in the middle of the park.