Explore-Share logo and link to home

Hike Quilotoa Lagoon and Cotopaxi National Park

Quilotoa Lagoon
Cotopaxi Volcano
Hiking Toachi River
Quilotoa at night
Hiking Quilotoa

Explore Ecuador's natural areas on a 5-day hike to Quilotoa Lagoon and Cotopaxi National Park with Fernando, an ASEGUIM certified mountain guide, and his team.

Not specified


5 Days

Jun, Jul, Aug


Join me on a 5-day hike to Quilotoa Lagoon and Cotopaxi National Park, two of Ecuador's most beautiful natural areas. On this special trip we will also hike to the Toachi River Gorge and the villages of Chugchilán and Isinlivi.

Quilotoa Lagoon is a 3-kilometer wide crater lake. It was formed by the collapse of a volcano after a huge eruption. Today the beautiful lagoon attracts visitors from all over the world. Its impossibly emerald color is the perfect background to a snapshot of your Ecuadorian adventure. I would love to share this treasure with you as we hike Quilotoa Lagoon together.

I also invite you to hike with me through the Toachi River Gorge. After we descend from the crater edge, we will hike along the Toachi River banks with canyon walls on both sides. Here we will experience a large change in climate and scenery. The canyon hike also passes through a few small highland villages. There is a lot to explore while we spend a few days hiking in this area.

Finally, I am excited to take you to Cotopaxi National Park. This park is a nature reserve and home to the famed Cotopaxi Volcano. Cotopaxi National Park is a very scenic park. You will be able to clearly see the volcano out of the rest of the flat landscape. The park is also home to a wide variety of plants and animals. After observing the volcano, we will have the chance to visit the Limpiopungo Lagoon and then trek to the José Rivas Refuge at 4864 m.

Over 5 days we will see some of Ecuador's most beautiful and unique natural areas. Picture yourself looking down into the blue-green water of the lagoon. Then imagine hiking down the banks of a river. Finally, prepare for the magnificence of the volcano.

Are you ready for a journey into Ecuador's natural terrain? Contact me to start planning today! If you have only one day to explore this area, don't worry. I also lead day trips to Quilotoa Lagoon and Cotopaxi National Park.

Price includes

- Guiding fee

- Accommodation included

- Transport during the trip

- Permit and entrance fees

- Breakfast

- Lunch

- Dinner


Day 1: Quito to Quilotoa Lagoon

We will leave from Quito (2800 m) in the morning and drive to the Quilotoa Lagoon (3500 m). During the tour, we will stop at an Indian hut and the Tiuga community to observe their leather craft-making. After the 4-hour tour, we will arrive at the crater viewpoint to observe its magnitude and take pictures. We will descend for about one hour to the bottom of the lagoon. There we will rest and have lunch. That night we will sleep at Quilotoa Shalala Lodge.

Day 2: Hike Quilotoa to Chugchilan

On the second day we will hike from Quilotoa to Chugchilan. We will start at the crater edge, with magnificent views of the water below. Then we will descend to the small indigenous village of Huayama on a plateau below. We will continue descending on switchbacks to the Toachi River Gorge. We will take a moderately challenging hike for 4 to 5 hours on the bank of the river, surrounded by canyon walls. That night we will stay in Chugchilan at the Cloud Forest Hostel, a well-known destination for hikers. Chugchilan is a typical mountain village, without much more than a small plaza, church, and school. It is easy to feel like we have stepped back 100 years in history while staying here.

Day 3: Explore Chugchilan

You will have the option to go on half-day hikes around Chugchilan, to the local cheese factory or towards the town of Sigchos, or to explore the surrounding areas on your own. You can also choose to enjoy the peacefulness of the village from the hammocks of the Cloud Forest Hostel. Lodging this night is also at the hostel.

Day 4: Hike Chugchilan to Isinlivi

On this day we will hike from Chugchilan to the village of Isinlivi. The hike goes through the Toachi Canyon and we will follow the river, passing through small highland villages. It is a 4-5 hour, moderately challenging hike. After lunch we will drive to the village of El Chaupi, where we will sleep at the Andes Alps Hostel.

Day 5: Cotopaxi National Park

The Cotopaxi National Park tour begins with spectacular views of the unique Andean landscape in the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” Once inside the national park, we will learn about the volcano from the guide and take pictures. Then we will take a short trek around Limpiopungo Lagoon for about an hour. After that, we will drive up to about 4500 m. From there, we will walk for about an hour until we arrive at the José Rivas Refuge at 4864 m. After resting at the shelter for a hot tea, we will return to the parking lot. The trip finishes with a delicious lunch at the Andes Alps Cafe before going back to Quito.





Meeting point


About the guide

ASEGUIM Guide from Ecuador.

I was born and raised in Cotopaxi Province – Ecuador and know the country’s peaks intimately. I have great mountaineering experience of more than 12 years of climbing in all Ecuador, and I also climbed in South America, Switzerland, and France.

I manage a guiding company, so sometimes I'm the one guiding the trips, but sometimes I'm focused on company management, and one of the certified guides of my team will be guiding you. All the guides with whom I work are professional and certified guides.

I worked for the Nuevos Horizontes refuge on Ilinizas Volcano from a young age and have professional Guide Training, and I am officially Licensed as a Nature guide organized by the Ministry of tourism.

Some of the guiding courses I attended are:

* Mountain Guides Course by ASEGUIM (Ecuadorian Association of Mountain Guides),
* Mountain Guides Evaluation by ENSA (Ecole Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme) in October 2006. An event organized by the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador and ENSA of France
* Pre-Course UIAGM an event organized by ASEGUIM and ENSA (Ecole Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme)
* First Aids course, Ecuadorian Red Cross

I live and manage a hostel and lodge in El Chaupi, a beautiful mountain village an hour south of Quito, just in between Illinizas Ecological Reserve and Cotopaxi National Park. It looks like a typical Swiss town in the Alps, and has everything to become a great mountaineering center, the ‘Chamonix or Zermatt of South America’!

I speak fluent Spanish, English, and little German, French, Hebrew, and Quichua.

The guiding team I lead is committed and experienced. Contact me to help you organize an unforgettable adventure.


German | French | English



What people are saying about Fernando Iza

Daniel McNamara


October, 2022

Thank you for putting this trip together for me at the last minute after my group canceled on me. Fernando was a great guide who knows the route up Cotopaxi very well. The meals and lodging were also great and well worth the price, in my opinion.

Lauren Kuklenski


August, 2022

Great experience. We did Rumiñawi, corázon, and Illiniza Norte as acclimatization hikes. All of them were beautiful. We attempted Cotopaxi but had a snow storm and heavy winds during the night of the summit and we were forced to turn around. The 3 initial climbs prepared us well for Cotopaxi and the altitude. There were some technical scrambling portions on corazon and Illiniza which were very cool. Overall would highly recommend!

Benjamin Stewart


June, 2022

Fernando was a fantastic guide who got me to the summit despite extremely difficult weather conditions! I would highly recommend him to anyone hoping to climb Ecuador's big peaks.

Kirsten Yehl


September, 2021

Fernando was an outstanding guide. We (my 16 yo son and I) spent a week with Fernando and did 3 acclimatization hikes and a successful Cotopaxi climb. All were amazing. On the last two, Illiniza Norte and Cotopaxi, Fernando was very attentive to safety. He also read and understood our strengths and weaknesses after the first few hikes and used that insight to guide us up the mountain. We stayed most nights at Fernando’s hostel, it was very comfortable, a great experience. His family is lovely and the meals were delicious. Was an unforgettable experience and we truly appreciate Fernando, both his guidance and hospitality.

Jan Zehnder


July, 2021

Even though Fernando is a fun and an experienced guide, I can't give him more than two stars. I was quite sick for the first three days so I could not keep up my normal pace. On my first hike I even had really bad balance disorders. This did not bother Fernando at all. Most of the time he was walking very far ahead. While descending he suddenly started walking so fast that I even lost him out of sight. I found him 2km later lying in the grass on his phone. I passed him and he just kept on being on his phone without even bothering about my medical situation. Beside his impatience the second thing is, that Fernando is always on his phone. I felt a lot better on my last day so we went on climbing Cotopaxi. He promised us a glacier school (since I've never used these tools before) but then at the refugee he just said that it's learning by doing. So when I tried to put on the crampons in the middle of the freezing night it of course took me a while. He didn't even bother to help, so my friend had to put on my crampons for me. Instead he just kept on walking. This repeated itself at our descent. I found him 20 minutes later sitting in the hut already. The only reason I decided not to give one star is his lovely wife. She is an excellent cook and kept the house clean and tidy.

Pavel Janecek


June, 2021

The traveller did not leave a comment.

Adam Burrage


December, 2019

Great experience climbing with Fernando: Well organised and we made the summit with him on Chimborazo. I'd recommend him for guiding in Ecuador.

Dick Fields


December, 2019

The traveller did not leave a comment.

Barbara Matter


July, 2019

The traveller did not leave a comment.

The Reality Twister


March, 2019

Fernando is an excellent and knowledgeable guide, and the itinerary is a nice balance of climbs and recovery time, including time to explore a couple of cities. He also made sure we were well-equipped for the climbs. The guides are geared more toward getting you up and down than toward building any technique. It's not billed as an instructional course, so that's not a complaint -- just pointing it out for those who like to use one experience to build to another rather than just reach the summit.

Chase Taylor


March, 2019

The traveller did not leave a comment.

Bryan McBride


July, 2018

Fernando was a wonderful guide. Even though we didn't make it to the top we had a great experience. We plan to return in the future and make it to the top! We hope to have Fernando guide us again.

Mike Burkus


July, 2018

Fernando is a wonderful guide who understands the Cotopaxi route well. I recommend the climb for anyone looking for a tough mental and physical challenge.

Gareth Treharne


June, 2018

The traveller did not leave a comment.

Lara Pedrini


May, 2018

Fernando is an incredible guide. He is very experienced and has extensive knowledge of the area. He will always make sure you are safe and comfortable. I highly recommend Fernando to anyone wishing to explore/hike/live/breathe the area. What an incredible experience!


Join our newsletter!

Stay up-to-date on the best adventures.