Updated: Feb 23, 2019
Cotopaxi Volcano, its summit obscured in clouds. We're only hiking to the hostel in the middle of photo. We can't go higher because the volcano is belching out poison gas today and a trip past the snowline could prove fatal. Very reassuring! Sometimes the entire area is closed to visitors because of the fumes.
Man, we're near 16,000 feet and it's not so easy to breathe. The lower land has an otherworldly aspect. Suddenly, a large bird flies into view. We're not sure what it is until it turns and we can see the white highlights on its wings - a rare Andean Condor!
By the time I fumble out my camera, the bird is just a distant speck. Our guide says it's unusual to see condors this high, as there's little food. They are more common lower down, especially around cattle herds. So why is it up here? Are we being considered for lunch?