Visiting the páramo in Ecuador is always an experience to savor: the cool breeze, the spectacular sights and the freedom of standing against the backdrop of a mountainous landscape where glorious birds dominate the skies and grasslands.
These are especially easy to spot in places that lie far-and-away from the beaten path, and on our travels to seek out the specialty birds of the high Andean ridge, we reached some of the most remote, least visited areas in the country: the fascinating Chalupas mega-volcano, a spectacular plateau located at the foot of mounts Quilindaña, Yanahurco, and monumental Cotopaxi.
The route begins at the Cotopaxi National Park’s northern entrance, following the dirt path via Selva Alegre (accessible from the Amaguaña roundabaout), and as we enter the park, spectacular boulders that once flew high in the sky from the mountain’s crater during its many eruptions cover the landscape.
We first take a detour to Limpiopungo Lake, where lapwings and gulls fly about and tiny Sierra finches seek out grubs from the grass beautifully covered in a bizarre lichen that gives the entire area a misty experience.
As we quickly climb to the Julio Rivas refuge at snowline, along the way we stop at the chuquiragua bushes on the side of the road. These pretty orange flowers, Ecuador’s national flower, are a favorite of the Ecuadorian Hillstar, and with some patience, one is sometimes blessed with the opportunity of seeing this spectacular páramo jewel.
This time around, we are unable to see it so we continue on, east toward El Tambo, to the fabulous expanses of the Chalupas plateau. This is actually an enormous crater few people know about. We’re alone in the middle of windswept emptiness, and quickly start noticing we are surrounded… surrounded by birds.
The Fortuner 4.0 TA is a sheer necessity for those wishing to venture this far to a land where caracaras and condors roam free and roads die off into the wilderness. The power and security of treading your way on a Toyota cannot be overstated.
Along with Andean gulls and lapwings and beautiful Black-faced ibises animating the land, we zoomed across, like them, truly free!
Fortuner 4.0 TA
Motor: 4.000 cc, DOHC, 24 valves, 6 cylinders in V, VVT-i
Horse power: 235 HP
Convert torque: 376 Nm @ 3.800 rpm
Transmission : Automática de 6 velocidades /gears
Light system: Bi-LED with AUTO function
11 airbags to reduce injuries, 2 in the front, 2 to the side, 6 to the curtains and 1 at knee height for the driver.
Rear door with automated closing system.
Bi zone air conditioner.
Shift paddles at the wheel for sports driving.
Edif. Quito Airport Center, nivel 2.
(+593 9) 9990 0307