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Day 3 – March 14: Cotopaxi Area and Canopy Tour

CANOPY TOUR

It’s not easy to find lattes in Quito at 7:30am on a Sunday, but I managed to find one around the corner from the Le Parc Hotel.

We left for the Cotopaxi area by 8:00am to our first stop, the Hacienda Santa Rita, about 1 ½ hours away. The first half of the drive is on paved roads (but not necessarily smooth or straight), and the second half is on bumpy rock-paved or dirt roads.

Santa Rita is a private reserve which has some nice hiking trails, but most importantly the Salto Canyon Canopy Tour (zip lines). There is an interpretation center at Santa Rita with a presentation about ecological projects in the area.

It is here that we got our climbing harness, leather gloves, and helmet for the canopy tour.

Our guide led us up the 45 minute hike to the first canopy line. There are interpretive signs along the way, and it was interesting to learn about the volcanic rock, flora, and fauna in the area.

At our first zip line, we got the full safety briefing and instructions. It is a very deep canyon, and I don’t do so well with heights, so I was a little nervous, but my 8-year-old son didn’t hesitate and away he went. You can’t turn back when the 8-year-old is waiting for you!

What an amazing experience! It’s fast, it gives you an amazing perspective, and the views are incredible.

We did 5 zip lines back and forth back down the canyon to the Santa Rita hut. As we became more comfortable, we added a flip upside down. There was one line where you could stop in the middle and enjoy the view for a bit longer.

After these 5 zip lines, we decided to continue on with the 2 optional lines. To get there, you have to climb on-belay up metal handholds. The guide makes it look easy, but it feels more like rock climbing than it first appears.

The last 2 zip lines took us back to the Santa Rita hut. After taking off our gear, lunch was ready at the nice picnic tables with grass umbrellas.

HACIENDA

We were given the option to do a little trout fishing, but we opted to go back to our hotel for the evening, Hacienda Provenir, about 30 minutes away.

At the hacienda, we were greeted with a local sweet tea and tasty empanadas in the beautiful living room with welcoming fire. We learned a bit about the history of the area and the activities that are available.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the hacienda and even attempted to fly a kite.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner of local Ecuadorian food in the cozy dining room next to the fireplace.

LODGING

We were the first ones in the hacienda, and it wasn’t full, so we got a choice of rooms. For 2 people, I recommend Room #1 which is a suite off the main lounge with a queen bed, table, and fireplace. There are other double rooms on the main floor, which would be my second choice. We chose a room upstairs that was very large, had 4 beds, and a wood stove – perfect for a family of 3 or 4. Upstairs there are also tiny rooms with shared bath for budget travelers.

The main building of the hacienda has a large living room for gathering around 2 fireplaces, a cozy dining room with fireplace, and a number of guest rooms. There is a separate building that had a number of double, triple, and quad rooms as well as a conference room and game room.

This is a working hacienda with cows, llamas, and bulls. The background is the impressive snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano with intermittent views of the Cayambe volcano. There are many trails around the property that are perfect for easy hiking and biking.

CLOTHING:

It is much colder in the highlands, so we wore long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and carried our jackets with us. I wore my jacket at Santa Rita, but took it off shortly after we started the hike and while doing the zip lines.

At the hacienda, it was colder when it got cloudy and at night, so a jacket was a must.

FOOD:

Lunch was grilled right at Santa Rita – chicken and beef kabobs with fava beans, corn, and cheese. Very traditional and tasty!

Dinner was traditional Ecuadorian food. We purchased a bottle or organic Chilean wine to accompany dinner.

Posted by bolderwork 14:50 Archived in Ecuador Tagged ecotourism

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