We stopped overnight in Otavalo, before making our way to the Cuicocha laguna on the slopes of the Catacochi volcano.
The lagoon is itself an extinct volcanic crater- we had intended to camp somewhere part way up Catacochi, though were forbidden from doing so by the national park rangers. We left most of our gear in the gatepost, and hiked round the lagoon instead. (We later discovered that camping on the volcano is in fact permitted- seemingly the park staff prefer you to be part of a guided expedition) By the time we found our way back to the gatepost, the earlier guard had been replaced – we snuck our gear out under the nose of his very deeply sleeping colleague. I demonstrated to Simon the merit of carrying a stove by making tea, much to the amusement of the hotel owner.

We slept rather briefly in a small hotel on the shore of the lagoon before setting off up the Catacochi volcano two hours before dawn broke.
A little under four hours later we reached the cluster of antennae which perch on the ridge at around 4000m. Gradually the clouds below us cleared a little, offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys (even as far as Cotopaxi) though the summit of Catacochi herself remained elusive.
The approach along the saddle is easy enough, though the summit itself is hazardous even in clear weather without ropes .. so we breakfasted on (rather squashed by now) baked goods, and headed down.

Quito -the highest capital city in the world- is around two days cycle from here; we’ll cross the equator sometime today.

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