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5-day Trek to the Refugio José Rivas in the Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador

Join Javier, ASEGUIM-certified Mountain Guide, on this spectacular hike across a pristine National Park in Ecuador, all the way up to Refugio José Rivas (4,800 m) and back.

Mountain RangeAndes
Duration5 days
Offer periodJan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Skill LevelBeginner
Fitness LevelOccasional
Type of tripPrivate and Group


  • Unique route and itinerary to trek into Cotopaxi National Park.

  • Great opportunity to see the rural life in the Ecuadorian Andes.

  • An excellent gradual acclimatisation process.

  • Hike from the Limpiopungo Plateau to the refuge of Cotopaxi; a 1.050 m


Join Javier, ASEGUIM-certified Mountain Guide, on this spectacular hike across a pristine National Park in Ecuador, all the way up to Refugio José Rivas (4,800 m).

The Cotopaxi volcano (5,897 m) is one of the most beautiful mountains on Earth, with its near perfect cone shape and its stunning glaciers and snowcapped peak, and it’s without a doubt the most famous mountain in Ecuador and one of the most popular climbs in the Andes.

However, on this trip we are going to do things a bit differently than most of the people who visit this Park: rather than driving in and out and zoom past all of the gorgeous landscape, we will hike all the way to the refuge. This on will, on one side, give us a great opportunity to enjoy all of the peaceful countryside surrounding the volcano and immerse ourselves in the rural lifestyle of the ecuadorian Andes, and on the other side it will put our physical skills to the test, as we will be climbing up to a height equivalent to that of Western Europe’s highest peak!

Before reaching the José Rivas hut, we will also be hiking to the top of Pasochoa (4.200 m) and the Central Summit of Rumiñahui (4.600 m) which will allow us to achieve a prefect, gradual acclimatisation. We’ll take a rest day after that in order to replenish our energy reserves ahead of our last day’s push to the Refuge on Cotopaxi.

Request to book this trip now and I’ll ensure that every detail of this trip is taken care of with safety and fun in mind, so that you can enjoy a spectacular 5-day trek in one of South America’s most beautiful National Parks.

If you think you’re up for the challenge of climbing all the way to the summit of Cotopaxi, you should definitely check out this other amazing trip I’m offering!



- Hacienda Porvenir or Los Mortiños and Tambopaxi lodge (standard machai rooms) - Camping

More info

Please note that this itinerary is a guide line only. We will do every effort to follow it, but in case of unforeseen circumstances we may have to make changes.




Day 1: Hike to Hacienda Santa Rita - 3.280 m

After a short drive of only one hour, we start hiking from the village of Santa Clara located in the Valley of Los Chillos at 2.750 m / 9,020 ft. The trek follows cobble stone roads on the side of the Pita River, which comes from Cotopaxi National Park.
Close to the Hacienda Santa Rita we pass in front of a Shrine, where locals come to worship the “Virgen de la Piedra”, the Virgin of the Rock.
Today’s hike will take around 5 hours. When you get to the Hacienda the camp will already be set up. You will spend your first night at an altitude of 3.280 m / 10,758 ft.

Day 2: Hike to Pasochoa - 4.200 m

Today we leave in the morning around 8 a.m. for a 6 hours hike to the Pasochoa volcano. We will be crossing the fields of Hacienda Santa Rita.
Pasochoa is an ancient and heavily eroded volcano that has been inactive since the last ice age. If the weather permits, from the summit, we will be able to take a good look at the crater. Inside you will see the Pasochoa Protected Forest Reserve, a humid Andean Forest with more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees, located between 2.700 m / 8,856 ft and 4.200 m / 13,776 ft. On a sunny day you can normally see condors. We return to Santa Rita camp site for the night.

Day 3: Hike to Hacienda El Porvenir - 3.600 m

Today we hike towards the hacienda El Porvenir. Part of the hike goes through humid Andean Forest where there is a chance to see hummingbirds.
El Porvenir is one of the largest farms in Ecuador. It can be used as a base for excellent hikes within the Cotopaxi Park. Located at 3.600 m / 11,808 ft, El Porvenir is surrounded by four volcanoes: Cotopaxi, Sincholahua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. Here you will be able to enjoy your stay in a comfortable, functional and beautiful traditional Andean hacienda. The “casa de hacienda”, or farmhouse, is built with materials such as brick, straw, wood and adobe that have been used for centuries. If Porvenir is not available we will use Hacienda Los Mortiños

Day 4: Central Summit of Rumiñahui - 4.600 m

From Hacienda El Porvenir we start hiking towards the central ridge of Rumiñahui, leading to the middle summit. The rock on this mountain can be a bit loose underfoot, so we have to take care, but the views from the summit are really worth it. The volcano is located only 13 km North West of Cotopaxi and it is named after Atahualpa’s general, who was the last Inca Emperor. After the emperor was murdered, Rumiñahui led the fight against the Spanish conquerors. In Quichua his name means “stone face”. We spend the night at Tambopaxi.

Day 5: Hike to José Rivas Refuge - 4.800 m

After breakfast we start hiking towards Cotopaxi Volcano. Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world and its refuge is as high as the highest mountain in Western Europe. The hike will take 4 hours uphill until we reach the refuge at 4.800 m / 15,744 ft. The hut stands at the highest altitude reached during our trip. With luck we will be able to enjoy the sun setting over the surrounding peaks. Later we return to Quito.

Equipment you will need to bring




Water bottle

Other gear: Thermal base layer, thermal midlayer, wind-stopper outer shell jacket and pants, trekking boots, hat, gloves, sunscreen

About the guide

guide profile img

He has been climbing in Ecuador for more than 25 years and has been working as guide for 15 years. As a mountaineer, he has led many ascents in the Andes, the Alps, the Karakorum and the Himalayas. The eight expeditions he headed in Nepal include guiding on two 8000-meter peaks.

He is currently the mountain rescue coordinator of the Ecuadorian Association of Mountain guides (ASEGUIM), and has completed several courses with ENSA, the French National School of Guides. He is also the program director in Ecuador of the American Alpine Institute

During his cycling career he won seven times the National Road Racing Championship, and also a gold and silver medal in the Pan-American games of 1990, for which he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honour for the highest merit in Sports.

If Javier Herrera is not available, he works with an excellent team of bilingual ASEGUIM/UIAGM guides.

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Prices per person

Group of 1

USD 1836 each

Group of 2

USD 1021 each

Group of 3

USD 928 each

Group of 4

USD 928 each

Group of 5

USD 928 each

Group of 6

USD 928 each

Group of 7

USD 928 each

Group of 8

USD 928 each

Want a different number of travellers?

Price includes

- Guiding fee

- Accommodation

- Transport during the trip

- Permit and entrance fees

- Clean, drinkable water during the trip

- Mountain guide's expenses (lifts, meals, accommodation, etc)

- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

- Camping equipment: Tents, Sleeping bag, Sleeping pad, Cooking utensils

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