Cotopaxi Trekking & Climbing

Ascent of Ecuador's second-highest volcano

Trekking and hiking through the beautiful Ecudorian landscape, with the country's second-highest mountain after the Chimborazo, the sleeping volcano of Cotopaxi (19,347 ft / 5,897 m) as highlight of the tour.


(subject to change without prior notice)

The Cotopaxi

The Cotopaxi

Day 1: Quito - City tour

Arrive in Quito in the morning or afternoon, and visit the colonial downtown of the capital city, the first place to become Cultural Heritage of Mankind.

Day 2: La Mitad del Mundo & Pululahua Crater (3,000 m)

Visit the Equator Line "Mitad del Mundo" monument (2,450 m) and the Inti Ñan Museum ("the path of the sun" in native Kichwa language), where several experiments prove its exactly location on the latitude 0-0'0''.

Day 3: Acclimatization hike to Pasochoa Volcano

Leave Quito (9,186 ft / 2,800 m) early in the morning (7:00), and drive southeast for about 1 hour through the Andean highlands until getting to the trail head (10,827 ft / 3,300 m). The hike goes through an amazing primary Andean forest, great for bird watching. Look out for the exotic hummingbirds which can be seen at all times during the hike. As you gain elevation, you will be able to see the surrounding snow-capped mountains, such as Antisana, Cayambe, Illiniza, Cotopaxi and even Chimborazo far away to the south in clear days. Hike along the ridge of the forest-covered caldera to reach the true summit (13,878 ft / 4,230 m) soon after. The whole round trip will take approximately 6 hours. Return to Quito in the late afternoon.

Day 4: Canyon de Chugchilan

Start early in the morning, heading south on the Panamericana highway and then west towards one of the most colourful Andean villages - Chugchilan (3,200m). Here, after approximately 4 hours of driving, you will be accommodated in a basic but friendly local hostel, and after a delicious home-made lunch set out on a visit to the impressive Canyon de Chugchilan. Have a horseback ride, heading down to the shore of the Toachi river, where the typical Andean paramo ecosystem is replaced by cloud forest. Return to Chugchilan.

Day 5: Laguna Quilotoa - Latacunga

Today, head south towards the most beautiful volcanic lake in Ecuador - Quilotoa (4,000 m). Drive the first portion of the trail, and then, from almost 3,700 meters of altitude, trek until getting to the rim of the crater. You will be surprised by the emerald waters of the lake that suddenly appears in our glance. It is possible to descend 400 meters to the shore of the lake, and take an excursion on a small boat. Climb back up to the crater rim, and drive to Latacunga (2,800 m).

A caravan

A caravan

Day 6: El Morro - Yuracocha Lagoon

Early in the morning, start your journey to the southern border of the Cotopaxi National Park. The car will get you to the trapezium-shaped mountain called El Morro, after a 2-hour drive. The muleteers will pack the luggage onto the horses. Start hiking until getting to the Yuracocha Lagoon (3,500 m) at the base of Quilindaña Mountain. Pass through high Andean grasslands with possibilities to observe the southern slopes of Cotopaxi and the Morurco Rock close to us. Camp on the shore of Yuracocha Lagoon. In the afternoon, it is possible to fish for trout in the clear unspoiled waters of the lagoon.

Day 7: Trek Yuracocha - Chirimachay Camp

Start walking early in the morning, after packing your rucksacks onto horses. Today's goal is to get very close to the eastern glaciers of Cotopaxi, to a campsite called "Chiri Machay" (3,500 m). A clear underground source of water coming from a cave has given the name to the place. After a 6-7 hour hike traversing hills and waste paramos, have dinner in the camp and go to rest, not without taking pictures of the majestic Cotopaxi, arising just in front of us.

Day 8: Trek Chirimachay - Laguna de los Patos - Tambopaxi

Early in the morning, start your last day of hiking. As the distance to be covered is not very long, it is possible to lead one of the horses that carry your luggage - a truly unique experience! Pass the Laguna de los Patos and the El Salitre archaeological site on the way. In the early afternoon, arrive at Tambopaxi Lodge (3,700 m). Take a hot shower, and enjoy the dinner in the lodge's restaurant with an excellent view of the northern slopes of Cotopaxi.

Day 9: Rest day in Tambopaxi - Optional trek to Limpiopungo Lake or Ruminiahui Volcano

Today, you can take a walk around Tambopaxi, see  lamas, wild horses and local birds. Optional hike to the base of Rumiñahui volcano (4,600 m). Overnight in Tambopaxi.

The rim of the crater

The rim of the crater

Day 10: Free morning - Ice training

After having a delicious breakfast and packing your backpacks, the car will be ready to drive you for about 40 minutes to the Cotopaxi parking lot (4,500 m). From here, you will hike uphill for another hour to the "José Ribas Refuge"
(15,748 ft / 4,800 m). Store your belongings in safe lockers. Lunch will be served soon after.
In the afternoon, head up to the glacier for ice practices and training
(approx. 3 hours). Learn some basic climbing techniques which will include how to handle the climbing equipment (crampons, ice axe, rope, etc). Return to the Refuge for dinner and rest.

Day 11: Climb Cotopaxi - Back to Quito

Midnight will be your wake-up time, and the departure to the summit (19,347 ft / 5,897 m) will be around 1:00. Have a light breakfast, and get your stuff ready for the ascent which will take about 6 to 8 hours. Each climber will receive a lunch box for the climb. Once at the summit, take your time to take some pictures of the crater and surroundings, and then head down back to the Refuge (3 to 4 hours).
Once there, pack your belongings, have lunch and go back to the parking lot where a vehicle will be ready to take you back to Quito.

Day 12: Papallacta Hot Springs

One hour and a half of driving from Quito is one of the best hot springs of
Ecuador - Termas de Papallacta, where you will enjoy hot natural volcanic
pools. In the afternoon, drive back to Quito.

Day 13: Bellavista Cloud Forest

Situated on the western slopes of Pichincha Mountain, Bellavista Cloud
Forest Reserve is a perfect place to enjoy the nature and observe different
species of birds, among them around 30 species of hummingbirds. Overnight at
the lodge.

Day 14: Return to Quito.

Early in the morning,you will make a hike in the forest to observe more birds,
and after lunch drive back to Quito.

Day 15: Departure

Fly back home, or continue with your visit to Ecuador.

Services included

  • Accommodations in 3* hotels (twin rooms), refuges
  • Private transport
  • English-speaking guides (1 guide per group during excursions, hikes and
  • treks; 1 guide per every 2 clients during climbs to snow-capped mountains)
  • Group climbing equipment (ropes, ice screws, snow pickets)
  • Breakfasts in the hotels, full board in camps and refuges
  • Camping equipment, cooks and helpers
  • National Park entrance fees
  • Ticket for the Ferrocarril
  • 1 mobile telephone for the use of the group

Services not included

  • Lunch and dinner in hotels
  • Personal climbing equipment and clothing
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips, airport taxes, international and domestic airfares
  • Insurance of any kind


  • Prices for 2009 are not yet final.
  • Payments are accepted via wire transfer to the tour operator's account.
  • Requested individual tour dates will also be offered to other clients in order to gather the required minimum group size. That can be unnecessary if your individual group has at least 4 people.
  • One month prior to departure, all interested participants will be advised if there are 4 people booked on the tour.
  • With your declared consent, the tour prize can be re-calculated should the minimum number of participants (4) should not be matched.
  • A prepayment of 50 % (10 days after booking) has to be paid directly after reconfirmation. Final payment becomes due 21 days before starting date of the tour.


Intakt-Reisen GmbH & Co. KG







minimum: 4

maximum: 14


Duration: 15 Days

Our programme is currently under review. We ask for your patience ...
Request Booking



Travel Agency

Tour Operator


Itinerary as PDF


Recommend this tour