The Hacienda La Carriona was something! And … our trip was now more than half-over!
We left after breakfast for the climb to the paramo and Volcan Antisana, getting a view of Volcan Cotopaxi on the way. Our route brought us to the snout of a lava flow that had, presumably, originated on Antisana, where we saw that the lava was being “mined” for construction materials. The road followed along the edge of the flow for a short distance, before climbing to higher altitude, and bringing us to Tambo Condor. This lodge is situated close to first entry station and not far below the tree line. It sits across a valley from a group of cliffs that host condor nests, and we soon spotted a soaring condor.
We had some coffee and spent some time observing the feeders.
We left Tambo Condor to continue the drive uphill to the paramo. Since the road would end in the vicinity of Volcan Antisana, we would backtrack and return here for lunch.
We also saw, at this location, the Black-faced or Andean Ibis, but I failed to get any images that were sufficiently in-focus. The elevation here was at or over 14,000′.
The road ended at the boat launch on the Laguna de Mica (a reservoir), which contains, as I later learned, some good-sized rainbow trout. The reservoir sits about 5 miles away from Volcan Antisana.
After this thrilling visit to the paramo and, especially, Volcan Antisana, we returned to Tambo Condor and lunch.
After lunch, we departed Tambo Condor downhill, and turned north, to pick up the highway to Papallacta Pass (13,000+ elevation). At the pass, Moses turned off the highway, and began some 4-wheel bus driving up a road that climbed the ridge to the north. We followed this road to an assembly of transmitters at about 14,500′ elevation, that, though looking very ramshackle, were guarded by two uniformed men. These men and their families lived up there, Edwin told us. The road and area are contained in the Cayambe-Coca National Park.
There were some nice views to be had, and interesting looking dwarf flowers and cushion plants to the sides of the installations.
We started back down and then Edwin heard an Ecuadorian Hillstar.
We returned to the pass, and headed downhill into the cloud forest on the eastern side of the Andes. Our destination was Cabañas San Isidro, where we would spend two days and three nights.