If the idea of mountain biking down an active volcano sounds like a great way to get your adrenaline pumping, you should plan a trip to Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador. The centerpiece of this park is the perfectly shaped volcano, Cotopaxi, daring bikers to take on its amazing height.
The volcano is located just 2 hours south of Quito, making it a great getaway from the city or an addition to a longer biking trip in Volcano Alley.
While Cotopaxi is Ecuador’s most visited national park, the area still feels incredibly isolated and rugged. As our group biked over the grasslands, we passed herds of wild horses watched condors swooping overhead; but met very few other people. There is a large protected border around the park where you find quaint farms and the occasional Chagra (an Ecuadorian cowboy).
This is the highest continually active volcano in the world (19,342 ft); but keep in mind that “active” is different than “erupting”. The last eruption was about 130 years ago and what you enjoy today are stunning grasslands shaped by lava flows. The volcano itself is a perfect cone, standing apart from the nearby mountains, and topped with bright snow (a rarity in Ecuador).
Biking trips start at a location high up the volcano, 14,760 ft. above sea level. The decent is exciting and only a bit technically challenging as the road is sandy in spots. As the road flattens, it becomes more solid so you can really appreciate the scenery as you ride.
For more on Cotopaxi biking trips offered by Detour, click here.
To learn about other adventures in Ecuador, please contact Detour Destinations, the Sustainable Adventure Travel Marketplace.