Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ecuador Travel Tales - Glen Bruno and the Other Side of Cotopaxi

Ecuador Travel Tales - Bruno's search for the Toucan and the other side of Cotopaxi.

Meet Bruno, Ecuador's latest adventurer taken on a guided tour of Ecuador, around the Northern Sierra by us.

Bruno is a Canadian based in Newfoundland, and has been to Ecuador a few times.  This time he came with a specific mission and he came prepared.  He came fully equipped with a Canon 6D, with an 17-40mm, f4.0L, IS, USM, and a 24-70mm, f2.8L, Mark ii, IS, USM. The big lens is 70-200mm, f2,8L, Mark ii, IS, USM with a 2x Mark iii multiplier. Main filter used was Hoya circular polarizer. 

Am I speaking Jibberish to you?  Well, in camera tech talk that is a pretty good set up.  

THE MISSION:  He wanted to shoot the Cotopaxi volcano, which can be quite tricky to accomplish.  The Cotopaxi volcano is often covered in clouds so you have to time your trip perfectly.  Being that an organized group itinerary would significantly lower his chances of being able to spontaneously wake up and go in the morning when the Cotopaxi is not covered in clouds, Glen elected to use Middle of the World to support his mission.

This way, Glen was not bonded to any specific itinerary and simply contracted us on an hourly basis to be at his service whenever the timing seemed right.  Of course we helped him create a last minute itinerary to help in his other needs (visiting Cotocachi, Birdwatching in Mindo etc), but Cotopaxi needed to be done on the right day for best results.

And while he was here, that day came.  He shot me an email and I was off to pick him up at his hotel in the Centro Historico.  (he shot some amazing night shots of the Centro Historico Quito that I must share).

Beautiful Quito Skyline
I got there about 9:00 AM (normally you want to leave for Cotopaxi a lot earlier but hey it is his call right?  While we headed south and we could see Cotopaxi's massive glacier peaking above the Quito skyline teasing us.  We could also see small clouds forming over her head, warning us to hurry up.  I knew in my mind we were already too late BUT Glen with his positive mental attitude and meteorologic knowledge recommended I push on south.

We didn't make it to the Cotopaxi National Park until about 11:00 AM and boy was it packed with tourists from all over the world!  I don't think I have ever seen it so "lleno de turistas".  However, there was not a peep of sun peaking through the clouds at this point so I already warned Glen we could have missed the shot he wanted to get.  Our only chance was to go to the other side of the Cotopaxi and see if we could find a break in the clouds that the glaciers were creating.

I shoved on up the paved road that turns into a dirt road, that turns into an uphill gravel mixed with pulverized sand road.  Now this mission was just as much my mission as it was his.  My adrenaline was pumping and I kept hoping for a break in the clouds.  After about 25 minutes going up and around her she finally showed herself!  Boy was it worth the journey~

Glen Bruno snapped this awesome picture of "the other side of Cotopaxi". 

Glen hopped out of the car in a hurry to make the most of his opportunity, and the results impressed me.

I took this pic of Glen but he taught me how to do it.

Cotopaxi's glaciers

great close up of Cotopaxi

Victory could not be celebrated for long because the rain came quick.  Timing is everything when it comes to taking amazing shots.  Great job Glen Bruno!

Mike Bruner