Along the Majestic Avenue of Volcanoes

My new 70 L backpack was ready for a new country. Ecuador, a small county straddling the equator, is home to 47 volcanoes, both active and extinct. Touching the sky, dressed in white, these volcanoes give a unique identity to the country: a volcano country. Pachamama (Mother Earth) has been a bit tough on this little country with a double whammy: earthquakes and volcanic activities. However indigenous communities and locals don’t take it as a curse. Cotopaxi, the second highest volcano, erupted in early 2015 displaying a grand show, so it was a good time to see the aftermath of the Pachamama’s play.

I landed in Quito, the capital city, with almost no plan. And, then came a flood of information from the fellow travelers. In addition to the Volcanoes, the country has a lot to offer to nature lovers and adventurers. Three days in Quito were good enough to explore its colonial setup and architecture. Mitad de Mundo, a popular site, consists of monuments and a small village that was constructed around the equator site. There are  many stories of balancing egg and nails on the equator site.

But my quest was to meet some of the tall, fiery volcanoes. The only capital city threatened by an active volcano, Quito goes about its business despite Volcán Pichincha grumbling on its doorstep. Telefériqo, a slick sky tram, took us up along the volcano’s haunches to 4100 meters. A couple of hour hike got us to around 5,000 meters, giving a spectacular view of the valley and the city. I needed more of this, more raw and explosive adventure. Volcán Cotopaxi, a perfect volcano, ice-cream-cone, was the spot. Almost 6,000 meter high, it gives an opportunity to the adrenaline seekers to witness Ecuador’s volcanic bounty in one sweeping panorama. Hiking to the peak was not allowed due to the recent eruption. An alternate hike to take a feel of this hot and beautiful volcano was good enough. Big and small stones were scattered all around, showing the power of Mother earth when she gets angry.

My next stop was Baños, a frontier town near the Ecuadorian Amazon. An overnight bus took me to the town known for natural thermal pools. Sitting in the lap of Volcán Tungurahua, the town is a perfect place for water-sports, zip-lining and many other thrilling activities.  Eventful days and chill-out evenings is the specialty of this town. A final look toward the peak of Volcán Tungurahua wrapped up my meetings with the volcanoes of Ecuador, the majestic, fiery and sky-high ones.

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