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60km (37 miles) S of Quito

At 5,897m (19,347 ft.), Cotopaxi is the world's highest continuously active volcano, and Ecuador's second-highest peak. Your first encounter with the almost perfectly cone-shaped and snow-covered Cotopaxi might be from a plane overhead; I've been on flights that have come so terrifyingly close to the volcano that I almost felt I could reach out and touch it. From above, it's hard to determine where the clouds end and the glaciers begin. The snow glimmers in the sunlight and magically blends with the bright blue sky -- and what a sight! But you don't need a plane -- on a clear day in Quito, from many vantage points you can see Cotopaxi rising high and mighty above the clouds.

The first documented summit of Cotopaxi was on November 28, 1872, by the German climber Wilhen Riess and his Colombian partner Angel Escobar.