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Cuicocha boat tour

November 27, 2010

After two months in Cotacachi, we finally visited Cuicocha, a caldera lake at 10,000 feet with three volcanic domes in the center. Beautiful setting, in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve, and only 8 miles from our house. What took us so long?

The vertical sides of the caldera and the deep, clean water reminded us of Crater Lake in Oregon. We still haven’t taken the boat tour of Crater Lake, so we’re doing well here. The boat tour was 25-30 minutes, around the islands to a spot where rising volcanic gases are visible in the water. The lake was nearly calm, and we had a diverse group of Americans, Taiwanese, and Ecuadorians on board.

The only birds (or wildlife of any sort) we saw were coots near the shore, diving for aquatic plants. Some coots had red patches above their bills, some yellow. The sun came out for our boat ride, but it was still cool at that altitude.

After some tea and empanadas, and a walk through the interpretive center, Natalie and I hiked to a viewpoint where we could see the lake in one direction and the valley where Otavalo lays in the other. After a 15 minute taxi ride home, the clouds closed in and major thunder came with rain. Good timing!

Cloudy at our arrival, but the sun shone for the boat tour

Putting on "salvavidas," life jackets

Headed into the passage between two islands

The small bubbles are sulfur gases rising from volcanic vents

We counted 47 coots near the shores of Cuicocha, diving for food

Tour boats rounding the island

Viewpoint from Cuicocha, looking back to Otavalo

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