Trek Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes and Climb Cotopaxi
4.8
| 31 reviews

Trek Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes to Cotopaxi's Summit (5897m)

9 nights
Tough

An epic hike through the snowcapped Andes to the top of the world's highest active volcano

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with certified, English-speaking local guides

All accommodation

3 nights in a hotel, 4 nights in mountain huts and haciendas, 2 nights camping

Meals

7 lunches, 6 dinners and all breakfasts

Equipment & Permits

All your climbing equipment, camping gear, hiking permits and national park entrance fees

Transfers

All airport transfers and everything in between

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 10 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

4.8
| 31 reviews
you probably only have one shot at Cotopaxi...do it right with MBA
April 2024
Yu-Tao L.
you probably only have one shot at Cotopaxi...do it right with MBA
April 2024
Yu-Tao L.
Incredible and safe!
March 2024
Olga I.
Incredible and safe!
March 2024
Olga I.
Incredible and safe!
March 2024
Olga I.
Excellent trip from the start
March 2024
Lisa G.
Excellent trip from the start
March 2024
Lisa G.
Excellent trip from the start
March 2024
Lisa G.
Excellent trip from the start
March 2024
Lisa G.
Cotopaxi/Cayambe
February 2024
Karl R.
Cotopaxi/Cayambe
February 2024
Karl R.
What an an amazing trip. Cannot recommend t...
February 2023
Alex
What an an amazing trip. Cannot recommend t...
February 2023
Alex
What an an amazing trip. Cannot recommend t...
February 2023
Alex
What an an amazing trip. Cannot recommend t...
February 2023
Alex
What an an amazing trip. Cannot recommend t...
February 2023
Alex
It was a challenge to hike Cayambe but I wa...
February 2023
Shorsh
It was a challenge to hike Cayambe but I wa...
February 2023
Shorsh
As happens with active volcanoes Cotopaxi w...
January 2023
John
As happens with active volcanoes Cotopaxi w...
January 2023
John
As happens with active volcanoes Cotopaxi w...
January 2023
John
As happens with active volcanoes Cotopaxi w...
January 2023
John
This is the hardest trip that I have signed...
December 2022
Juliana
This is the hardest trip that I have signed...
December 2022
Juliana
This is the hardest trip that I have signed...
December 2022
Juliana
This is the hardest trip that I have signed...
December 2022
Juliana
Javier and his team was very nice and profe...
December 2022
Viv
Javier and his team was very nice and profe...
December 2022
Viv
Javier and his team was very nice and profe...
December 2022
Viv
Javier and his team was very nice and profe...
December 2022
Viv

Cross crevasses and snow bridges en route to the top of Ecuador’s most famous peak at a towering 5897m

Trek through rainforests and past snowcapped peaks, spotting condors soaring high above along the way

Sleep in traditional haciendas set on ecological reserves and in remote mountain refuges

Key Information

Day 1

Arrive in Quito

Your host will meet you at Quito Airport and transfer you to your hotel in the outskirts of Quito. The rest of the day and evening are at leisure, depending on your arrival time.

Day 2

Acclimatisation day in Quito

Today is a relaxed day, designed for you to acclimatise to the altitude before climbing further into the Andes. You'll meet up with your guide and group for a gear check in the morning to ensure everyone is prepared for the expedition. If you are hiring plastic boots, you can sort this with your guide today. If you are short of any important items your guide can also help you pick these up in town. You are then free to explore Quito at your own pace with some short hikes to warm your legs up for the tougher days ahead.

Day 3

Hike to Hacienda Santa Rita (3280m)

Hiking

5hrs · 15km · 400m up · 25m down

After breakfast, there's a short drive to the village of Santa Clara, deep in the Valley of Los Chillos and 2750 metres above sea level. Hike along an ancient cobbled road beside the banks of the Pita River, passing a shrine where locals come to worship. Arrive at the hacienda, situated on 500 hectares of private ecological reserve, where your camp will be all set up and waiting. Enjoy a cooked meal and a good night’s sleep under an Ecuadorian night sky.

Day 4

Pasochoa Volcano (4200m)

Hiking

6-7hrs · 17km · 1150m up · 1000m down

Wake up bright and early and head off to climb the slopes of Pasochoa, an ancient volcano that has been inactive since the last Ice Age. If the weather allows, you can look into the crater itself which is home to the Pasochoa Forest Reserve; a cloud forest situated within the extinct volcano. This is a protected area, home to more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees. Keep an eye out for condors soaring on the thermals high above, before you make your way back down to the hacienda camp where dinner will be waiting.

Day 5

Hike to Hacienda El Porvenir (3600m)

Hiking

4-5hrs · 15km · 350m up · 25m down

Take down camp and trek through the humid Andean forest, looking out for brightly coloured hummingbirds amongst the green trees. Reaching Hacienda El Porvenir, one of the largest traditional farms in Ecuador, you'll check into your comfortable, traditional room surrounded by four volcanoes – Cotopaxi, Sincholahua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui.

Day 6

Summit Rumiñahui (4600m)

Hiking

5-6hrs · 11km · 860m up · 860m down

A short drive deeper into Cotopaxi National Park takes you to the trail to Rumiñahui, a volcano named after the last Incan general to lead the fight against the Spanish conquerors. Hike along the central ridge to the summit, and take in the 360-degree views of the mountains and volcanoes all around you, before hiking down to Tambopaxi, a remote mountain lodge nestled at the foot of Cotopaxi on the edge of the volcano’s ancient boulder field at 3700m.

Day 7

Acclimatisation day

Hiking

2hrs · 2km · 900m up · 900m down

Enjoy an easier day today, with a short hike to get used to the higher altitude. After a gentle preparation trek to reach 5000m, you'll stop for lunch at a remote mountain hut before returning to Tambopaxi Lodge for a hot shower and another traditional Ecuadorian meal.

Day 8

Hike to Jose Rivas refuge (4800m)

Hiking

2hr · 2km · 200m up · 10m down

Set off deep into the snow-capped mountain landscape and drive through the incredible Andean scenery to a trailhead at 4600m, for a short hike to the Jose Rivas refuge at 4800m. Here, you’ll stop for lunch to continue your acclimatisation before the big summit day tomorrow. In the afternoon, your guides will run you through the glacier-hiking skills that you'll need for tomorrow’s final ascent. Grab an early meal and a very early bedtime, ready for the action to start again shortly after midnight.

Day 9

Summit Cotopaxi (5897m)

Hiking

6-8hrs · 5km · 1097m up · 1097m down

You'll be up shortly after midnight to get prepped to leave camp at 01:00 to ascend the glacier, crossing crevasses and snow bridges, before reaching the final slope up to the pinnacle of your adventure: the summit of Cotopaxi. The final section is a challenging climb up a snow-covered slope set at a 40-degree angle. Your guides will help you navigate this section, using the knowledge, skills and acclimatisation you've gained over the past week. When you've successfully reached the summit you can peer down into the huge crater of Cotopaxi, 800 metres in diameter and still emitting steam and gases. Take in the unrivalled panoramic views of the Andes from here, before descending back down the glacier. You'll enjoy a triumphant drive back to Quito where you can celebrate your achievement in town over a few well-deserved local beers.

Day 10

Bid farewell to Quito

Your adventure ends today after you enjoy a final breakfast at your base in Quito. You're free to head to the airport in time for your onward flight, or to the bus station if you are travelling on to other parts of Ecuador.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 4

Campsite · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 7

Lodge · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Throughout the adventure, you'll be kept fuelled up on delicious Andean food, such as traditional Ecuadorian potato soup, meat and vegetable dishes utilising local grains such as quinoa and beans and plenty of local fresh fruits. Lunch usually consists of a variety of sandwiches and dinner is always a warm and filling meal after a big day of hiking. Vegans and vegetarians can be catered for, please let your host know at the time of booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Haciendas

Haciendas are a highlight on any trip to Ecuador. Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate, these are generally traditional ranches or homesteads based in rural areas, with historic colonial architecture making for a unique place to spend the night. You’ll spend two nights camping in the grounds of Hacienda Santa Rita, which is surrounded by 500 hectares of a private ecological reserve. Shower facilities are available in the hacienda itself.

You’ll then move on to Hacienda El Porvenir (or Hacienda Los Mortiños, if El Porvenir is not available). Both are comfortable, traditional haciendas built with materials and techniques that have been used in the Andes for centuries.

Mountain Lodges

You’ll spend two nights at Tambopaxi, a sustainable mountain lodge and the only accommodation 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 there are basic with only shared rooms available.

Quito

During your time in Quito, you'll stay at Casa Ilayaku Lodge (or similar) located in a quiet neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city. Twin-share rooms with private bathrooms.

Upgrades

For solo travellers wanting their own space, you can request a solo room and tent upgrade. This is available for all nights except the night at the José Rivas mountain refuge before your summit of Cotopaxi. Please request at the time of booking, as this is subject to availability. See Optional Extras for prices.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Quito Airport

Any time on Day 1

Ends

Quito Airport

Any time on Day 10

Transfers

Private transfers between the airport and your guesthouse are included for any time (and day) you choose to arrive or depart. Your host will meet you at Mariscal Sucre International Airport and transfer you to your accommodation in Quito. On the final day of the trip, your host will transfer you back to the airport in time for your onward flight. The airport is around a 1-hour journey to downtown Quito.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Quito from major airports across the UK, Europe and North America.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Some of your climbing equipment including: crampons, harness, ice axe, helmet and ropes
  • Tent

What's available to hire?

  • Plastic mountaineering boots: $20 per day. You'll need a pair for the ascent of Cotopaxi (2 days of the trip).

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • 50+ litre rucksack - to carry your gear from the carpark to the refuge of Cotopaxi (45 minutes). Important note: this only applies to groups that will summit Cotopaxi. A duffel bag and day pack is sufficient for departures where Cayambe is climbed instead of Cotopaxi.
  • 22+ litre daypack for day hikes - to carry daily with your personal items and layers.
  • Large strong duffel/kit bag with a strong zipper and a lock, large enough for your main rucksack to fit in as this will be used to transport all your gear during the flight and while travelling during the expedition. During the trek you can leave your duffel bag at the lodges at the base of the mountains, or at the camp, with any items you won't need during the hikes.

SLEEPING

  • Sleeping bag suitable for temperatures down to -10°C
  • Inflatable sleeping mat, such as a Thermarest

CLOTHES & FOOTWEAR

  • Outer socks, thick wool or polypropylene, 2 pairs
  • Inner socks, thin silk or polypropylene, 2 pairs
  • Comfortable hiking boots
  • Gaiters, 1 pair
  • T-shirts 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
  • Gloves inner
  • Gloves thick or mittens (windproof)
  • Wool hat or balaclava
  • Baseball cap or sun hat

OTHER

  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Head torch
  • Extra batteries
  • Sunglasses
  • Ski goggles
  • Sunscreen and lip protection
  • Penknife (optional)
  • Two x 1-litre water bottles (Camelback not, advised as can freeze)
  • Small Thermos
  • Personal medical kit and toiletries
  • USD $200 in small bills ($5s & $10s) for bottled drinks and extras
  • Camera
  • Small towel (to use at the campsite)
  • Swimsuit (optional)
  • Earplugs (huts can be noisy)
  • Your favourite treats or energy bars
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Mountaineering Boots Hire (for 2 days)

Payable Before Departure

Mountaineering Boots Hire (for 2 days)

Per Person

Double/Twin/Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Double/Twin/Single Room

Per Night

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Vikram J.(May 2024)
Lovely trip, could do with better guiding

Great trip and all - food and lodging was very well organised. I gave a 4 and not a 5 as I believe the missing link was proper clear communication. Most other trips I’ve been on have had clear briefings after dinner. Here it was so random. Folks at the table would be chatting away when the guide suddenly randomly speaks up about tomorrow’s plan - and he didn’t even discuss the “plan”. Would just say what time we have to be ready for breakfast!

Yu-Tao L.(April 2024)
you probably only have one shot at Cotopaxi...do it right with MBA
you probably only have one shot at Cotopaxi...do it right with MBA
you probably only have one shot at Cotopaxi...do it right with MBA

Do Cotopaxi right with MBA...case in point, when I got to the base camp, I was very pleasantly surprised by how respected Diego was in the hiking community. Other guides respected his judgement when Olga, Richard and I summitted; I could be making this up, but refuge staff all gave him firm handshakes and treated the five of us very nicely when we were up there. Great feeling that I was following the right leader. Personally and very very importantly, I was struggling on D-Day and Diego and Robinson pushed me, sometimes literally...I am not saying that you should expect that experienced staff drag you all the way to the very top...what I am saying is that the official/company description you read on here is the accurate description of your expected experience -- 7/8 days of "training" (exploring other volcanos in Ecuador) + the Big Day. I did this trip solo and rolled the dice re: my fellow teammates, but you know what, I watched tons of YouTube videos before/after summitting and simply could not see myself doing the trip without Richard or Olga...this is an important point because MBA does get you a solid group of "mates"...Javier will get you set up on Day One...random thoughts above just to supplement other reviews.

Olga I.(March 2024)
Incredible and safe!
Incredible and safe!
Incredible and safe!
Incredible and safe!

Incredible trip and Cotopaxi is now open! It was perfectly organized, safe, versatile, fun and challenging at the same time. Hats off to the local host Javier and the whole team! All accommodation spots are located in super safe areas, so you don’t need to worry about news, curfew or anything else. Our guide helped us acclimatize perfectly and was very supportive during the final summit. This is a serious mountain and a real challenge, so please do read the kit list carefully and bring everything they mention - you will definitely need it 😁 amazing trip, memories for the lifetime

Lisa G.(March 2024)
Excellent trip from the start
Excellent trip from the start
Excellent trip from the start
Excellent trip from the start
Excellent trip from the start

Excellent trip from the start shared with really fun people. Pablo and Pepe looked after us really well and the organisation was great. I loved Ecuador, the hiking there was challenging and varied as well as being picturesque. Sadly we didn’t make the summit of Cayambe due to bad weather but this gives me a great excuse to go back! You need a good level of fitness for this trip.

Karl R.(February 2024)
Cotopaxi/Cayambe
Cotopaxi/Cayambe
Cotopaxi/Cayambe

From stepping out of the airport I was instantly looked after and felt safe. This trip gave a fantastic variety of places to stay from a beautiful lodge with fantastic views, a cosy campsite with excellent facilities/staff, to a comfortable refuge on summit night. Was also given plenty (plenty) of food.

We got to see Quito the capital of Ecuador (as well as surrounding areas such as Cumbayá) great sites in particular a lovely roof top restaurant for lunch. I felt very safe, relaxed and welcomed.

Our guides throughout were amazing, Pablo and Joaquin looked after us and answered our many questions. They were incredibly patient when we didn’t remember what the plan was the next day. They helped us go at a great pace so we could all enjoy the views and the hikes.

Cotopaxi was closed at the time but still managed to go 5000m up with amazing views.

I was upset not to be able to submit Cotopaxi but I needn’t been. Cayambe was a fantastic climb and a huge challenge that I throughly enjoyed. The spectacular views were everything I’d hoped for. Can’t recommend this trip enough.

Nicole S.(January 2024)
Amazing Trip in the Anden

It was a great trip We were unable to do Cotopaxi due to the level of activity. But Cayambe is a great second choice. Challenging adventures and breathtaking views are guaranteed. Our guides Joaquin, José and Marco were simply great! It was a great time and we had a great time despite the rain, very varied trip. The last day is the most strenuous, the days before were mainly for acclimatisation.

The accommodation and transfers went smoothly, everything was very well organised and very punctual!

Ecuador and dear guides, Charlotte and I will come definitely back :)

Charlotte R.(January 2024)
Great trip to get a feel for Ecuador

The trip was absolutely incredible. From the moment I arrived in Quito I felt very well looked after by the whole team. The service was absolutely outstanding. My bag was lost in transit and Javier was incredible in his help to get my bag back to me. Joaquin, our guide, was amazing - he was everything a good guide should be. I trusted him completely to put our safety first and he was incredibly professional but he was also one of the warmest, kindest people I've met in a long time and lots of fun to be around. He told some incredible stories and loved answering our questions about Ecuador. Marco, who looked after our food for the first couple of days when camping was amazing - he was so funny and we all enjoyed his company and food. The accommodation throughout was amazing. The itinerary was built around acclimatization for the summit and we all acclimatized really well for the big climb. Overall the trip was a huge success, and I will not hesitate to book a trip with MBA again, and I will most definitely be back to Ecuador for some more climbing!!

William(June 2023)

Was an amazing adventurous experience! Guides were very Professional and Knowledgeable! I highly recommend this trip!

Karen(March 2023)

An amazing week trekking in some beautiful parts of Ecuador. It was well organised, the accomodation was good and varied. The food was equally delicious. And everyone was friendly and knowledgable. Would definitely recommend.

Liga(March 2023)