Indian Legends about Ecuadorian Volcanoes – The Majestic Cotopaxi
Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world, with an impressive height of approximately 6.000 meters (20.000 feet) above sea level. It is located in the Ecuadorian Andes on its Eastern mountain range. In the indigenous language, Quechua, Cotopaxi means “Shining Peak”.
Cotopaxi doesn’t stop astonishing us with its great height, as it also has a magnificent indigenous legend regarding its existence.
Before further elaborating, let’s first briefly introduce these two volcanos that have important roles in the legend.
Chimborazo: Inactive volcano on the Western mountain range of the Andes. Approx. 6.250 meters (21.000 feet) above sea level. Considered the closest point on Earth to the Sun.
Tungurahua: Also, referred to by its Quechua name, “Throat of Fire.” Approx. 5.000 meters (16.000 feet) above sea level. Active volcano on the Eastern range of the Andes.
Legend has it that Cotopaxi’s high activity results from a passionate love triangle between these three volcanos: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, and Tungurahua.
Many centuries ago, Cotopaxi was a handsome and powerful warrior who fiercely fought for the love of Tungurahua, a beautiful woman, with another strong warrior, Chimborazo.
This love triangle caused a war full of bloodshed and turmoil, and eventually Chimborazo proclaimed his victory and married Tungurahua.
Soon after, the newlyweds welcomed a son, naming him, Guagua Pichincha or in Quechua “Baby Pichincha.” Legend has it that when Guagua Pichincha cries, his mother, “Mama Tungurahua” along with the defeated Cotopaxi tremble and answer back with an eruption. In the last three centuries the Majestic Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times, but this has not stopped visitors. It continues to be one of Ecuador’s most visited attractions.