Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Summit Fever

Climb Cotopaxi (5897m) and Trek Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes

Explore the Andes Mountains as you summit Ecuador's highest active stratovolcano.


Trip Ref #9823

Adventures / Summit Fever

Climb Cotopaxi (5897m) and Trek Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes

Explore the Andes Mountains as you summit Ecuador's highest active stratovolcano.

6 nights
Mariscal Sucre International Airport
Perfect for

The ultimate bucket-list volcano for anyone looking to conquer an iconic Andean mountain over 5000m. Your guides will give you the support and training you need so no previous technical mountaineering experience is required, but you should be fit and accustomed to long tough hikes.


Trek through lush rainforests to the top of ancient volcanoes, spotting condors soaring high above along the way. You’ll sleep in traditional haciendas set on ecological reserves and in remote mountain refuges, before hiking up a glacier to the top of Ecuador’s most famous peak - the third highest active volcano in the world.

  • 4 nights accommodation in mountain huts or haciendas, 2 nights camping
  • Certified, local, English speaking guide
  • Qualified mountain guide for every two climbers on Mount Cotopaxi
  • All meals
  • Pick up and drop off from Quito
  • Local transportation
  • All hiking permits and national park entrance fees
  • Climbing equipment – crampons, harness, ice axe and ropes

Day 1: 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, 2,750 metres above sea level.

Set off along the ancient cobbled roads that run alongside 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 Hacienda Santa Rita, set on 500 hectares of private ecological reserve, where your camp will be set up and waiting for you.

Enjoy a hot cooked meal and a good night’s sleep under an Ecuadorian night sky.

Total time hiking – 5 hours. Altitude reached – 3,280m

Day 2: Hike Pasochoa Volcano

Wake up bright and early for breakfast in camp and prepare for today’s hike into the reserve.

Climb up the slopes of Pasochao, an ancient volcano that has been inactive since the last Ice Age and if weather permits, take a look into its crater, home to the Pasochoa Protected Forest Reserve and more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of tree.

Rest at the top, keeping an eye out for condors soaring on the thermals above as they scavenge for food, then make your way back down to Hacienda Santa Rita, where dinner will be waiting.

Total time hiking – 6 hours. Altitude reached – 4,200m

Day 3: Hike to Hacienda El Porvenir

Break camp and trek through the humid Andean forest as you look 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.

Check into your comfortable, traditional room surrounded by four volcanoes – Cotopaxi, Sincholahua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui.

If Hacienda El Porvenir is not available you’ll instead stay at Hacienda Los Mortiños

Total altitude reached – 3,600m

Day 4: Summit Rumiñahui

Hike towards Rumiñahui, 13km north west of Cotopaxi, named after the last Inca general to lead the fight against the Spanish conquerors.

Walk along Rumiñahui’s central ridge to the summit, taking in the view of mountains and volcanoes all around you.

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

Day 5: Acclimatisation Hike

Enjoy an easy day as you get used to the high altitude.

After a gentle hike up Cotopaxi itself, stop for lunch at a mountain hut, before returning to Tambopaxi for a hot shower and another good meal.

Total hiking time – 2.5 hours. Altitude reached – 5,000m

Day 6: Hike to Cotopaxi Refuge

After breakfast, jump in the minibus for the short drive to where your hike ended yesterday and set off on foot once again into a landscape of snow-capped mountains.

Arrive at the Jose Rivas refuge, 4,800 metres above sea level, where you’ll stop for lunch, before spending the afternoon learning glacier-hiking skills in preparation for tomorrow’s final ascent.

Return to the refuge for a hearty meal and an early night.

Total hiking time - 2 hours + Glacier training. Altitude reached – 4,800m

Day 7: Summit Cotopaxi

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 at a 40-degree angle.

From the summit, peer down into the crater of Cotopaxi, 800 metres in diameter and emitting steam and gases, and absorb the panoramic views of the Andes that surround you – claimed by many to be one of the best views in the world.

After you’ve had your fill, descend back down the glacier for the drive back to Quito where your Andean adventure will end.

Total hiking time – 8 hours. Altitude reached – 5,987m

Please Note

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.

You’ll spend two nights camping in the lush grounds of Hacienda Santa Rita, set in 500 hectares of private ecological reserve, 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.

From here you’ll spend two nights at Tambopaxi, an environmentally friendly mountain lodge and the only hotel inside 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 your early start to the summit. Facilities are simple with shared rooms.

Your host can assist in arranging an accommodation in Quito if needed.

Where the Andes meet the equator, the world’s longest mountain range becomes a hot spot of volcanic activity, both active and extinct, that runs from Quito in the North to Cuenca in the South. As well as snow-capped mountains the area is also surrounded by rainforest and dotted with traditional Andean villages and haciendas. The iconic cone-shaped Mount Cotopaxi is 5,897 metres high, making it the world’s third highest active volcano, and the most popular climb in Ecuador - thanks partly to the record number of clear days at its summit compared to any other.

Start Point

You will be picked up from your hotel in Quito at 09:00 am on day one. Your host suggests arriving 2 days prior to the start of the trip to meet for a quick gear check and start acclimatising.

Finish Point

You'll be dropped off at your hotel in Quito on the final day of the trek.

This trek is the ideal way to acclimatise for Cotopaxi, as you'll spend the first five days gradually building up the altitude you're hiking to. You generally start to feel the effects of altitude once you travel over 2,500 metres - Quito itself is 2,850 metres. 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.

You should have a good level of fitness as you'll be hiking up to seven hours each day at altitude. There's no need to have any previous experience in mountaineering as your experienced guides will be on hand the whole time.

We recommend seven days spent at altitude before attempting Cotopaxi in order to acclimatise and have the best possible experience.

You can hike Cotopaxi all year round. June and July are the dryest months, although they can be very windy. December and January are the best months to hike, with low rainfall and far less wind. Cotopaxi is blessed with the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes.

This trip will run with a minimum of 2 people, and a maximum of 10. The guest to guide ratio on Cotopaxi will be one guide for every two climbers. Please note, if there are not 2 people booked the trip may be rearranged or cancelled.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it's a great way to meet like-minded people.

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips for your guides (optional)
  • Accommodation and meals in Quito
  • Airport transfers
  • Alcoholic drinks

While our pre-set social departures are adult only, teenagers from the age of 14 are welcome on a private trip if they have previous hiking experience.

We recommend spending two nights at Quito before you start the trek to see the city, meet for a quick gear check and also to start acclimatising.

Start point

You're free to book any flight you like. You'll be picked up at 09:00 on the first day in Quito.

Finish point

You'll return to Quito on the final day of the trek and be dropped off at your hotel. It's best to book flights for the following day.

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Your host recommends to pack:

  • Outer socks, thick wool or polypropylene - 2 pairs
  • Inner socks, thin silk or polypropylene - 2 pairs
  • Comfortable hiking boots
  • Plastic mountaineering boots (provided by Andeanface for $10 per day if required)
  • 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 strong zipper and a lock, large enough for your main rucksack to fit in
  • Ice axe 70 cm (provided by Andeanface if required)
  • Crampons, 12 points rigid are fine(provided by Andeanface if required)
  • Ski poles (optional)
  • Climbing harness – 1 (provided by Andeanface if required)
  • Climbing helmet – 1 (provided by Andeanface if required)
  • Carabiners - 2 regular; 2 locking
  • Head torch
  • Extra batteries
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun screen
  • Lip protection
  • Pen knife
  • Two water bottles
  • Small thermos
  • Personal medical kit and toiletries
  • USD $200 in small bills ($5’s & $10’s)
  • Camera
  • Small towel
  • Swimsuit (optional)
  • Earplugs (for noisy huts)
  • Your favourite treats or energy bars (Andeanface provides full lunches)

In Quito we recommend Hotel Reina Isabel a 4 star hotel centrally located, or for something more simple Casa Helbling.

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