When we were back “down” (at 3,800 metres!) on the paramo Jose Luiz drove us to another area of the park with a bleak but to me very appealing landscape. Here we had a good lunch at Tambopaxi Lodge, sitting in the cosy dining room with views from the window when the clouds permitted of not only Cotopaxi but also another volcano, Rumiñahui (4,721 m), which gets its name from Quechua, meaning “rock eye”. We were also pleased to get another look at an Ecuadorean Hillstar Hummingbird, this time a female, who visited the feeder outside our window several times during the meal (see photo five).
Favorite Dish: Our meal started with a really tasty and warming pumpkin soup. This was followed by pork chops, which needed the excellent spicy sauce, aji, to liven them up. We had mango mousse for dessert, and a choice of fruit juices – I chose the very good mango juice. The meal was included in the cost of our tour so I’m not sure of the price but I would guess that it is dearer than the average for Ecuador given the location and attractiveness of the lodge.
Next tip: Rumiñahui
In the evening of our stay at the Hacienda la Cienega we had dinner in the atmospheric restaurant, along with the only other people who appeared to be staying here, another couple and their guide. I had read good reviews of the food here, and seen an extensive menu, and as it was my birthday I was looking forward to a bit of a feast! But we discovered from Jose Luiz that our dinner was included in our tour and was a set menu. No matter – it would still be good, I thought. With hindsight though I wish we had asked if we could pay the extra to choose from the menu, as the meal proved to be rather disappointing. The vegetable soup was OK, but the chicken curry poor (we are used to good curries here in England) and served with pallid, floppy potato chips and over-cooked vegetables.
They did however make a bit of a fuss about my birthday. I had not mentioned it at all to Jose Luiz, nor he to us, but Surtrek had clearly noted my date of birth and when the time came for dessert I was brought a slice of chocolate cake with a candle in it. Chris and Jose Luiz meanwhile were served a slice of something called “fruit cheese” – a sort of blancmange or mousse-like concoction. Chris and I decided to spilt our two different desserts and I was pleased that we did, as the fruit cheese was much nicer than my birthday chocolate cake, which seemed dry and stale.
So altogether not an especially good meal, especially for a birthday "treat".
It seems that a lot of private tours to the Cotopaxi area come here, especially for lunch. If yours is doing the same I would recommend checking whether you have a set meal and maybe consider asking to pay the extra to choose off the main menu. Or bring your own supplies! They seem from our experience not to put the same care into these set meals, although it's possible we were just unlucky and caught them on an off day. Certainly the breakfast the next morning was a lot better :-)
This is my last tip about our visit to Cotopaxi, so please click here to go back to my intro page and leave a comment – thank you.
There aren’t any fast foot joints out here, nor is there any type of restaurant. In that respect, Cotopaxi’s namesake park is very unlike comparable North American park. No, you’ll have to fend for yourself. Well, isn’t that the main tenet of backpacking?
Favorite Dish: You can’t beat the views, that’s for sure and there’s no worrying about crowds. Everyone has their own style from folding chair-like contraptions and multi-burner stoves to eating just cold foods. I like to take a simple approach but a stove seems like an essential piece of equipment when at this altitude, just in case you do get cold! But I keep the meals simple. We usually start off with a ramen noodle soup. While we’re eating that I’m already boiling water for the main course, like mashed potatoes with mushroom soup. It doesn’t sound too great in the comforts of home but after a day of lugging a heavy pack around, it sure hits the spot. Tea rounds it off and I even found one in Ecuador that had honey right in the bag, eliminating carrying that heavy stuff around. Breakfasts can be quick cooking oatmeal but I tend to opt for cold cereal to save time and get on the trail. You never know when that reflection photo will present itself but in general it’s gonna be early. ;)
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