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Ecuador’s sleeping giant, Cotopaxi Volcano, comes to life again

Close your eyes and picture the wonder of standing at the foot of an ancient giant, waking up from its slumber. Travelers to Ecuador don’t have to close their eyes, as the once-dormant Cotopaxi Volcano has recently sprung back to life.

At a towering altitude of 5911 meters above sea level, this snow-capped Andean mountain began to emit plumes of steam and ash in late August, and has continued. As of November 2015, there are continued explosions with ash discharges.

For anyone traveling through through most of Ecuador and the Galapagos, there is no need to worry or cancel your plans; but it is important that you take basic precautions.

Flying to Ecuador – Cotopaxi’s impact on transportation

Currently, all of Ecuador’s airports are operational, but it is possible that increased activity from Cotopaxi in addition to changes in wind patterns could result in temporary airport closures.

Travelers should check the airport’s and airline’s websites before departure to make sure that there have not been any changes to the itinerary.

International Airports Potentially Impacted

Nearly all international flights arrive to either Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) or Guayaquil’s Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Airport (GYE).

Guayaquil is about 250 km (150 miles) from Cotopaxi, and is relatively downwind from the volcano. Noticeable ash has rarely been observed in Guayaquil’s history.

Quito is much closer, about 60 km (40 miles), but to the north of Cotopaxi, safe from the predominant winds that go towards the west and southwest. A major change in regional wind patterns could blow ash towards the airport and result in a closure of multiple days.