Climb Cotopaxi (5897m) and Trek Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes
Explore the Andes and summit Ecuador's highest active stratovolcano
5 days off work
Up to 10 people
Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Ecuador
Campsite · Guesthouse · Lodge · Mountain hut
No previous technical mountaineering experience is required, but you should be fit and accustomed to long tough hikes.
Trek through the rainforest to the top of ancient volcanoes, spotting condors soaring high above along the way
Sleep in traditional haciendas set on ecological reserves and in remote mountain refuges
Hike up a glacier to the top of Ecuador’s most famous peak and the third highest active volcano in the world
Certified, English speaking guide
4 nights in mountain huts or haciendas and 2 nights camping
Munch on tasty food throughout
To and from Quito and everything in-between
All your climbing equipment including crampons, harness, ice axe and ropes
All hiking permits and national park entrance fees
Flights to and from the meeting point
Some meals as described
Tips for your guides
You'll be picked up from your hotel in Quito on day one and returned to the city on the final day. Your host suggests arriving 2 days before the start of the trip to start acclimatising and meet up for a quick gear check. Your host can assist in arranging accommodation in Quito if needed.
There are regular flights to Quito from major airports across the UK and Europe.
Campsite · Twin tent
Guesthouse · Twin tent
Guesthouse · Twin share
Day 4 – Day 5
Lodge · Twin share
Mountain hut · Mixed dorm
What is the accommodation like?
You’ll spend two nights camping surrounded by 500 hectares of private ecological reserve at the Hacienda Santa Rita, with shower facilities available in the hacienda itself. You’ll then move to Hacienda El Porvenir or Hacienda Los Mortiños if El Porvenir is not available, a comfortable, traditional hacienda built with materials and techniques that have been used in the Andes for centuries.
You’ll spend two nights at Tambopaxi, an environmentally friendly mountain lodge and the only hotel located within the Cotopaxi National Park. Hot showers and good food are available, as well as excellent views of Cotopaxi itself. Your final night will be spent at the Jose Rivas mountain refuge, 4,800 metres above sea level, ready for an early start to the summit. Facilities are basic with shared rooms.
Hike to Hacienda Santa Rita
Meet your guide and fellow hikers in central Quito and take a short drive to the village of Santa Clara, deep in the Valley of Los Chillos and 2,750 metres above sea level. Set off along the ancient cobbled road beside the banks of the Pita River, passing a shrine where locals come to worship the Virgen de la Piedra or the Virgin of the Rock. Arrive at a hacienda set on 500 hectares of private ecological reserve where your camp will be all set up and waiting and enjoy a cooked meal and a good night’s sleep under an Ecuadorian night sky. Altitude reached – 3,280m
Wake up bright and early and climb the slopes of Pasochao, an ancient volcano that's been inactive since the last Ice Age. If weather permits, take a look into the crater, home to the Pasochoa Protected Forest Reserve and more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees. Rest at the top, keeping an eye out for condors soaring on the thermals high above and then make your way back down to the hacienda where dinner will be waiting. Altitude reached – 4,200m.
Hike to the Hacienda El Porvenir
Break camp and trek through the humid Andean forest looking for brightly coloured hummingbirds amongst the lush green trees. Reach Hacienda El Porvenir, one of the largest farms in Ecuador, built with materials and techniques that have been used in the Andes for centuries and check into your comfortable, traditional room surrounded by four volcanoes – Cotopaxi, Sincholahua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. If Hacienda El Porvenir is not available you’ll stay at the equally lovely Hacienda Los Mortiños. Altitude reached – 3,600m
Hike towards Rumiñahui, 13km north-west of Cotopaxi, named after the last Incan general to lead the fight against the Spanish conquerors. Walk along the central ridge to the summit, take in the views of mountains and volcanoes all around you and then hike down to Tambopaxi, a remote mountain lodge nestled at the foot of Cotopaxi on the edge of the volcano’s ancient boulder field. Altitude reached – 4,600m
Enjoy an easier day to get used to the higher altitude. After a gentle preparation hike, stop for lunch at a mountain hut, before returning to Tambopaxi for a hot shower and another good meal. Altitude reached – 5,000m.
Hike to Cotopaxi Refuge
Set off once again into a landscape of snow-capped mountains as you hike to the Jose Rivas refuge, 4,800 metres above sea level, where you’ll stop for lunch. Spend the afternoon learning glacier-hiking skills in preparation for tomorrow’s final ascent and then return to the refuge for a hearty meal and an early night. Altitude reached – 4,800m.
Leave camp at 01:00 and ascend the glacier, crossing crevasses and snow bridges, before reaching the final slope to the summit - a challenging section of snow set at a 40-degree angle. Gain the summit and peer down into the crater of Cotopaxi, 800 metres in diameter and still emitting steam and gases. Absorb the panoramic views of the Andes, claimed by many to be one of the best in the world and when ready, descend back down the glacier and return to Quito where your Andean adventure will come to an end. Altitude reached – 5,987m.
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
15% Off Outdoor Gear
In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.
- All your climbing equipment including crampons, harness, ice axe and ropes
What's available to hire?
- Plastic mountaineering boots - $10 per day
What do I need to bring?
- Outer socks, thick wool or polypropylene - 2 pairs
- Inner socks, thin silk or polypropylene - 2 pairs
- Comfortable hiking boots
- Plastic mountaineering boots
- Gaiters – 1 pair
- T-shirt or long-sleeved tops
- Fleece jacket or jumper
- Breathable windproof and waterproof outer jacket, such as Gore-Tex, with hood
- A light down jacket
- Thermal leggings
- Hiking trousers
- Breathable windproof and waterproof trousers such as Gore-Tex
- Mittens and gloves
- Gore-Tex wind shells for mittens
- Wool hat or balaclava
- Baseball cap or sun hat
- Sleeping bag suitable for temperatures to -10°C
- 50 litre+ rucksack
- Daypack for day hikes
- Large strong kit bag with a strong zipper and a lock, large enough for your main rucksack to fit in
- Ice axe 70 cm (provided by your host if required)
- Crampons, 12 points rigid are fine (provided by your host if required)
- Ski poles (optional)
- Climbing harness (provided by your host if required)
- Climbing helmet (provided by your host if required)
- Carabiners - 2 regular; 2 locking
- Head torch
- Extra batteries
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip protection
- Two water bottles
- Small thermos
- Personal medical kit and toiletries
- USD $200 in small bills ($5’s & $10’s)
- Small towel
- Swimsuit (optional)
- Earplugs (huts can be noisy)
- Your favourite treats or energy bars
You'll be hiking for up to seven hours each day at altitude so a good level of fitness is required, however, previous mountaineering experience isn't needed as your experienced guides will be on hand the whole time.
Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.
You can hike Cotopaxi all year round, however, December and January are the best months due to low rainfall and far less wind. June and July are the dryest months, although they can be very windy. Cotopaxi is also blessed with the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes.
We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.
We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!
All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.
"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.
We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.
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You'll spend the first five days gradually acclimatising ready for the main event. You generally start to feel the effects of altitude once you travel over 2,500 metres (Quito itself sits at 2,850 metres) but you'll have plenty of breaks to rest as you get used to the thinner mountain air. If you have any concerns about the altitude please speak to your doctor before you travel.
We recommend spending two nights in Quito before the start of the trek to see the city, meet for a quick gear check and start acclimatising. You'll return to Quito on the final day of the trek and be dropped off at your hotel so it's best to book flights for the following day.
Of course. We recommend Hotel Reina Isabel, a 4 star hotel centrally located. If you're looking for something more simple then we'd recommend the Casa Helbling.
Cancel up to 31 days before departure and we'll transfer your deposit into credit for a future booking.
Free Date Changes
Free date changes up to 31 days before departure.
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Get places you wouldn’t yourself. Our guides know where to go, what to do and how to stay safe
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