Walk from Tambopaxi Lodge and circle Limpiopungo Lago, a lagoon collecting water flowing off of Rumiñahui Volcano and a popular stopover for Andean and migrant birds.
On a clear day, enjoy breathtaking views of Cotopaxi Volcano and the ascent up to the mountain refuge. Before reaching the lake, stop for photos of Rumiñahui and its jagged peaks, looming in the distance before you. The loop of the lake is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with two species of Andean ducks floating on the water and migratory egrets and sandpipers stopping over. Thrushes and finches are common, and you might also catch a glimpse of the Antpitta, a ground bird native to the region. In addition to birdwatching, enjoy flowers dotting the open meadow at the northwestern end of the lake and make sure to pause and appreciate the changing view of Cotopaxi behind you. Herds of wild horses often dot the open range below Cotopaxi, on the opposite side of the lake and you can keep your eye out for foxes as well.
Bring your camera, charged and with extra batteries, for stunning views of Cotopaxi Volcano looming in front of you. With calm and clear weather, stunning reflections of Cotopaxi can be captured off the lake's water for photos sure to impress.
Although this hike is relatively flat, you are still at a high elevation, and therefore it’s important to maintain proper nutrition and hydration. Plan ahead by packing plenty of water, snacks and your lunch. The sun is especially strong at this elevation and can cause sunburn even on a cloudy day, so sunscreen is a must.
Part of this hike follows a dirt road used to access Tambopaxi, Cotopaxi Volcano and the Limpiopungo Lago parking lot. Please watch for vehicles. The terrain is also open and exposed in the National Park. While most days are relatively clear, the weather in the National Park can change rapidly and thunderstorms do occur. Plan ahead by checking the weather ahead of time and familiarize yourself with what to do in the event of lightning on open terrain.
On the way, you might pass herds of wild horses and llamas, in addition to some cattle. While they are rarely aggressive, proceed with caution and give these animals wide berth.
Please note that there is no cell phone service in the Park.
The Ecuadorian government monitors Cotopaxi Volcano 24/7 and has an early warning system and marked evacuation routes in place for visitors to the National Park. While an eruption is unlikely, it is worthwhile for you to check in with the staff at Chilcabamba Lodge regarding emergency procedures in the event of volcanic activity.
Points of Interest
This shallow, reedy lake sits between the base of Volcan Ruminahui and Cotopaxi Volcano and is home to local and migrating waterfowl, wildflowers and wildlife. Serving as one of the most popular spots for tourists within the National Park, visitors here enjoy walking the quiet, easy and visible loop around the lake, or to just sit on the wooden dock to observe the surrounding mountain range and bird species. The lake is located at an altitude of 3,892 meters (12,769 ft.) above sea level.
Rumiñahui is a a dormant volcano, heavily eroded stratovolcano, located in Cotopaxi National Park. Rumiñahui has three high peaks called Rumiñahui North, Rumiñahui Central and Rumiñahui South, the highest point reaching 4,712 meters (15,459 ft.) above sea level. Having no annual permanent snow and with a northern hiking route that is a moderate scramble, tourists flock to the region to climb upon its peaks and marvel at the views of nearby mountains, such as El Coroazon, Illinizas, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi.
Food & Drink
There are no stops for for water or food today, so fill up your water bottles and pick-up your packed lunch from Tambopaxi Lodge.
The weather changes rapidly in the Andean Highlands so pack accordingly, carrying plenty of warm layers and rain gear. Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots are also strongly recommended, as the hiking surface varies greatly from dirt roads to slippery singletrack trails.