COTOPAXI VOLCANO ACTIVITY*
On August 14, 2015 Cotopaxi Volcano, which rises about 50 km (31 mi) south of Quito, and 33 km (21 mi) northeast of the city of Latacunga in the Ecuadorian Andes, to a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft), increased its volcanic activity, emitting ash clouds. The Geophysics Institute of Quito’s National Polytechnic School had placed the stratovolcano under active watch on 25 June 2015 after observing growing activity.
On August 14, a Yellow Alert was declared in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Pichincha as a result of the ash emissions from the volcano. The Cotopaxi National Park was closed for visitors until the past December 11th, 2015 that was reopened with strict standards of entering hours (9am-2pm) and only allowing visits to the Limpiopungo lagoon and to Rumiñahui Volcano. Entrance to refuge and climbing the volcano are completely restricted.
The Ministry of Safety Coordination constantly monitors the volcano 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, employing all the technology available to the Geophysical Institute and including the processing of satellite imagery by Ecuadorian and foreign universities. At present, there are no indications of an imminent eruption, which would be signalled by significantly greater gas and ash emissions, seismic activity in the volcano’s vent, a deformation of its cone and audible rumbling.
The Ministry of Tourism requests all tourists and tour operators remain alert to the guidelines and recommendations provided by the Ministry of Safety Coordination in the following information channels:
• Hashtag #volcancotopaxi on social media
• Ministry of Tourism daily bulletins
Cumbre Tours re-posts the official communications through social media channels:
Airports.- All airports in Ecuador are currently operational.
Air traffic.- Ash clouds in the atmosphere may cause a few delays or re-routing of flights. Please check with your airline for updates.
Protected Areas.- Cotopaxi National Park reopened for visitors as of December 11th, 2015 with strict standards of schedule (9am-2pm) and only allowing visits to the Limpiopungo lagoon and to Rumiñahui Volcano. Visitors must sign a release form upon entrance.
All other protected areas, including Cayambe Coca, Galápagos Islands, Llanganates, Machalilla, Podocarpus, Sangay, Sumaco, Yasuni, Yacuri and Cajas, are open.
For adventure lovers, Ecuador has great options: Ilinizas Ecological Reserves, El Angel, Antisana, CotacachiCayapas; Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge, PululahuaGeobotany Reserve; Puyango Petrified Forest; Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve; Limoncocha Biological Reserve; among others.
Basic Services (water, electricity, gas, etc). None have been reported as affected to date.
Accommodation in the vicinity of the volcano. The Ministry of Tourism has identified nine establishments in the immediate vicinity of the volcano. Please contact us in case of a specific hotel query.
Roads There are no further reports of closure of the Pan-American Highway E35 due to ash falls. Please contact us for up to date information.
Railways The Ecuadorian Railway Company announced that it will only run the route Quito-Machachi until further notice, curtailing the service further south to El Boliche, due to safety reasons. All other services continue to run as normal. For more details, see http://trenecuador.com/en/
Tips and Recommendations if close to ash:
• Protect your eyes with glasses or goggles (swimming goggles or even masks for snorkelling), your nose and mouth with a damp cloth and/or mask. If you use contact lenses, it’s better to remove them.
• Wear clothes that cover your body, to prevent skin irritation.
• When staying in a hotel,review the emergency evacuation plans of the establishment.
• Carry a bottle of saline solution (“suerofisiológico”) with you, available at most pharmacies. Dab on eyes with a cloth to avoid irritation.
General Tips and Recommendations:
• In your traveller’s day-pack, carry extra water, a torch with back-up batteries, extra snacks, cloth, copies of your travel documents and contact details of next-of-kin.
An orange alert is a warning to prepare for an impending adverse event; and a red alert refers to an emergency or disaster.
Remember that Ecuador is the land of four worlds in the middle of the World: there are varied and beautiful regions unaffected by the Cotopaxi Volcano in the Andes, the Pacfic Coast, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands.