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9-day Guided trek in the Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador, near Quito

Join Alejo, an experienced Guide from Mountain Madness, on this spectacular trek in the Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador and experience the stunning biodiversity and landscapes this Park has to offer.

Mountain RangeAndes
Duration9 days
Offer periodJan, Feb, Nov, Dec
Skill LevelBeginner
Fitness LevelOccasional
Type of tripGroup

Highlights

  • Experience the biodiversity of Cotopaxi National Park

  • Trek across multiple ecosystems and landscapes

  • Discover the rural ecuadorian culture and lifestyle

Description

Join Alejo, an experienced Guide from Mountain Madness, on this spectacular trek in the Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador and experience the stunning biodiversity and landscapes this Park has to offer.

On this trekking adventure in the friendly country of Ecuador we will enjoy the scenic beauty of Cotopaxi National Park, walk among lamas in the bucolic countryside, and trek up several easy peaks, including Pasachoa (4,200 m). We will also be hiking across a humid Andean Forest with more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees where, on a sunny day there are good chances of observing condors, the largest birds on the planet.

With the up close and personal views of the impressive equatorial ice, Cotopaxi has captured trekkers’ imagination for centuries. You will be charmed by the people met along the way, many of whom still practice subsistence farming. The walk in the mysterious paramo, an ecosystem likened to the Scottish moors, offers alpine plants aficionados an exquisite garden to investigate. Along the way you will encounter wild horses, llamas, and a mesmerising variety of birds.

And speaking of creatures, how about some creature comforts during the trek, like those found at the luxurious Rumiloma, the historic Hacienda La Cienega or the Hacienda Pinsaqui, where the likes of South American liberator Simon Bolivar stayed. These are among the most charming places to stay in the country. After some fine dining, music, and a soft bed at La Cienega trekkers we will end our wonderful trip with a visit to the Quilota Crater, where we will descend about 300 m/900 feet to explore the lake and also have a chance to meet some members of the varied indigenous groups unique to Ecuador.

We will wrap it all up with a celebration dinner in Quito and one last night in the lap of luxury at the Haciend Rumiloma. Request to book this trip now I’ll be delighted to be your guide on this fantastic multi-day journey in the heart of the Cotopaxi National Park.

If you’d like to see all the other amazing trips I’m also offering, be sure to check my profile page.

More info

Not Included in Price: Airfare Unscheduled hotels, restaurant meals, and transportation Personal equipment Items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, etc.) Staff/Guide gratuities Trip & medical evacuation insurance Alcoholic beverages

Meeting point

Quito International Airport

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Photos


Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ecuador

A Mountain Madness representative will pick you up at the airport and take you to Hacienda Rumiloma.

Day 2: day 2

Travel to town of Otavalo to visit its colorful markets, afternoon hike to orchid lined Laguna Cuicocha. Overnight in comfortable Hacienda Pinsaqui.

Day 3: day 3

From 9,020 feet, at the village of Santa Clara, we begin the trek along the Pita River in the Valley of Los Chillos. Along the way we pass in front of a shrine, where locals come to worship the Virgen de la Piedra, the “Virgin of the Rock.” From a lightning strike, a figure of a Virgin was etched into the rock, a holy sign that draws local to this place of worship. Today’s hike will take around 5 hours. When we reach our campsite at 10,758 ft. things will already be set up.

Day 4: day 4

Elevation: 13,776 feet / 4200 meters
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. On a sunny day there are good chances of observing condors, the largest birds on the planet. In the afternoon we return to Santa Rita campsite for the night.

Day 5: day 5

Elevation: 11,808 feet / 3599 meters
Today we hike through a hummingbird rich humid Andean forest on our way to Hacienda El Porvenir. 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 built from local materials of brick, straw, and adobe.

Day 6: day 6

Elevation: 15,088 feet / 4599 meters

From the hacienda we ascend the central ridge of 15,088 foot Rumiñahui, another extinct volcano. The peak is located only 13 km northwest of Cotopaxi. Rumiñahui is named after a well known Inca General who, in 1520, fought against the Spanish when they were looking for Inca treasure. After our climb we spend the night at Tambopaxi, a beautiful lodge located at 12,300 feet inside the Cotopaxi National Park. It has hot showers and a relaxing place to kick your feet up! In the afternoon we will visit the nearby Inca ruins or if you prefer, just rest and delight yourself with the views. The telescope in the lodge will enable you to follow the progress of any climbers on Cotopaxi.

Day 7: day 7

Start hiking towards Cotopaxi Volcano, the highest active volcano in the world. After about four hours we reach the trekker’s highpoint for the trip – 15,744 ft. Jose Ribas Hut. After a short walk down from the hut, a vehicle takes trekkers to the charming Hacienda La Cienega, one of Ecuador’s most well-known haciendas. After a hot shower and imbibing in the South American drink of pisco, trekkers enjoy a traditional Ecuadorian cuisine and fun night out.

Day 8: day 8

Today we go to the 12,464 foot Quilota Crater, a beautiful volcanic crater-lake 3 kilometers wide. On the way to the lake we will see some little “chozas”, very basic Indian huts, where the local families live. Children will follow us and try to make conversation! This portion of the trip offers a unique glimpse into some of Ecuador’s varied indigenous cultures in addition to the incredible scenery of the area and the lake itself. Local legend claims the lake is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulphuric. The 900 foot hike down to the lake waters will allow you to dispel or verify this legend! On the way back to Quito and the celebration dinner, we shop for the famous native Tigua paintings and carved wooden masks.

Day 9: day 9

Return home or continue on other adventures.


Equipment you will need to bring

Poles

Sunglasses

Backpack

Water bottle

Other gear: Trekking clothes and boots, outer layer: windproof and waterproof jacket and pants


About the guide

guide profile img

UIAGM/IFMGA Mountain Guide from Ecuador.

Alejo fell in love with the mountains in his early years as a boy scout, and became a proficient rock climber in his youth. Through these activities, he met the friends that helped him summit Ecuador's famed peak Cotopaxi at age 14. Since then, Alejo has spent countless days in the mountains and has shared this love with many aspiring climbers.

He has climbed in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and recently did some serious alpine climbing in the Alps as part of his training to obtain his UIAGM certification. Alejo is the second Ecuadorian guide to achieve full UIAGM certification, one of very few US-certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technicians (WEMT), and a certified member of the ASEGUIM.

He also works as a climbing, rescue, and outdoor medicine instructor. He enjoys traveling, hiking, scuba diving, running and is a pretty darned good cook.


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Prices per person

Group of 1

USD 2655 each

Group of 2

USD 2655 each

Group of 3

USD 2655 each

Group of 4

USD 2655 each

Group of 5

USD 2655 each

Group of 6

USD 2655 each

Group of 7

USD 2655 each

Group of 8

USD 2655 each

Want a different number of travellers?

Price includes

• Guiding fee

• Accommodation

• Transportation from your hotel/airport (if in area) to the start of the trip and back

• Transport during the trip

• Permit and entrance fees

• Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


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