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On this Ecuador volcano trek
, we will start by picking you up from the airport outside of Quito. Most flights arrive into Quito after dinner time, so we recommend making sure you have ample snacks for the flight. We will have our orientation meeting the following morning.
Today is all about acclimatizing and sight seeing in Quito, which is at an elevation of 9,350 feet. After a relaxing morning and big breakfast we will head to our partnering gear store to try on mountaineering boots for our ascent of Volcano Cotopaxi. We will also make sure you have the appropriate clothing layers, and all other gear necessary for this trip. After sorting out our boots, gear and clothing, we will head into Old Quito for a tour of the city’s historic attractions. Quito was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978 and the central square is located about 16 miles south of the equator. We’ll visit some of Quito’s famous churches including la Compañia de Jesus and the Basilica del Voto Nacional. A couple hours for shopping and lunch on your own (with some suggestions by your guide) are set aside for today, after which we will rendezvous and travel back to our hotel for a big Ecuadorean dinner and relaxing evening.
- Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles
- Lowest Elevation: 10,826 feet
- Highest Elevation: 13,779 feet
- Trekking Duration: 4-5 hours
Today we begin our acclimatization hikes, all of which are worthy stand alone treks on their own! The first is the extinct volcano of Pasochoa. If the weather permits, today’s hike offers amazing views of the beautiful Cotopaxi volcano, the surrounding volcanic mountains, and the rich Andean farms that thrive in the valleys surrounding the volcanoes. We'll also have good potential to see the famous Andean Condor. At the rocky crater rim (13,779') we'll have tea, lunch and take in amazing views of glacier-covered Cotopaxi - our ultimate goal for the week. Once we get back down from today's hike, we will drive approximately 1 hour to the Chuquiragua Lodge, which will serve as our ‘Base Camp’ for the week. Upon arrival at the lodge, we will check in, have hot showers and free time until dinner is served. Our lodge has wonderful amenities including a spa, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room - all available for you to nurse your sore muscles each evening.
- Hiking Mileage: 6-7 miles
- Lowest Elevation: 10,170 feet
- Highest Elevation: 15,200 feet
- Trekking Duration: 5-6 hours
This morning after a delicious breakfast we will drive across the valley and set out to hike Volcán Rumiñahui. This dormant volcano lies directly north and adjacent to Cotopaxi and inside Cotopaxi National Park. The hike itself is moderate and will take us to 15,600 feet above sea level. Because Rumiñahui is dwarfed by Cotopaxi on the other side of Laguna Limpiopungo it is an off-the-beaten-path destination that provides us some wonderful solitude surrounded by stunning scenery. It is also another excellent acclimatization hike and if the weather is clear we will have epic views of the volcanoes that surrounding us (el Corazón, los Ilinizas, Sincholagua, and Cotopaxi). After the hike we will return to our lodge for hot showers and another delicious Ecuadorean dinner.
The best method to acclimatize is to hike up to altitude, then come back down and rest. Days 3 and 4 were acclimatization hiking days - today is the rest day to allow our bodies to maximize our acclimatization. This morning we will sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast we will pack our day bags and board our transportation to the village of Saquisili. One of the largest Kichwa markets takes place in Saquisili and we will enjoy the town, the market and have the opportunity to do some souvenir shopping. If the Saquisili market is not running on the day we have scheduled, we will head to the market in village of Machachi. We will have lunch at the market and then head back to our cozy lodge for some free time before dinner. Your guides will deliver the plan for the next day.
- Hiking Mileage: 8-9 miles
- Lowest Elevation: 12,795 feet
- Highest Elevation: 16,817 feet
- Trekking Duration: 6-8 hours
After breakfast we will set off to hike the North peak of Illiniza. The Illinizas consist of 2 peaks that sit right behind our lodge, and used to form one large caldera of an ancient volcano. Over time, the mountain has separated, creating the two individual peaks. The hike is moderate and finishes with an exhilarating and easy climb to the summit. Today’s hike takes roughly 6 hours and our guides will prepare a picnic lunch on the mountain. After summiting, we will return back to the lodge for hot showers, dinner and the plan for the next day.
- Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
- Lowest Elevation: 15,784 feet
- Highest Elevation: 19,347 feet
- Trekking Duration: 8-10 hours
This morning we will sleep-in and leisurely start. After having a late breakfast, we will meet our driver from Quito who will be bringing us our Mountaineering equipment. We will then drive to the base of Volcano Cotopaxi and hike approximately 1 hour to the Jose Rivas Refugio. At the Refugio, we will have lunch, a short rest and hike up to the glacier where we will practice self-arrest, crampon, ice axe and travel techniques. We will then have an early dinner and go to sleep to prepare for our summit bid, which begins tonight.
Around midnight we will wake with a cup of coffee or tea and a snack for fuel. We then get suited up to start our initial ascent up the mountain. We start our ascent nice and slow and keep the same pace throughout the hike. Slow and steady is the name of the game! We generally reach the summit by sunrise, take some photos, celebrate and most likely hang out for 10-20 minutes. It’s cold up here but absolutely beautiful! We then begin our descent, which generally takes about 3 hours. Upon arrival back at the Rufugio, we will have breakfast, then hike down to the car park, where we meet our transportation. Subsequently, we will drive to the Papallacta Hot Springs for some very well-deserved rest and relaxation, and this is where we will stay the night. What an amazing experience this week has been!
On our final morning we will have breakfast and enjoy the hot springs. After lunch in Papallacta our driver will take us to the Airport Garden Hosteria where you will have the chance to shower and rest before catching a taxi to the airport for your flight home. Please schedule departing flights after 5 P.M.
: If you'd like to extend your stay, we are happy to book extra room nights at some destinations (not available at all destinations) before and/or after your trip at our preferred hotel for an additional 30% service fee.
: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however occasionally trips are subject to itinerary changes based on a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to: extreme weather, political or bureacratic obstacles, earthquakes, fires, flooding and more.
- A detailed trip packet that takes the guesswork out of your travel, training, packing, and preparing for the trip
- Access to our Adventure Consultant team 7 days a week
- Transportation for the duration of the tour starting on Day 1 and ending on the day you depart
- Lodging for the duration of the tour (Lodging Details)
- Meals for the duration of the tour excluding dinner on Day 1 and lunch and dinner on Day 2
- Use of a day pack and trekking poles
- Mountaineering boots, helmets and equipment
- Professional, certified Wildland Ecuador hiking and mountaineering guides
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!
- Transportation to Quito, Ecuador
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Trip insurance that includes medical coverage and at least $200,000 in evacuation and repatriation coverage (strongly encouraged)
- Bar bills, drink bills, extra snacks, telephone bills , wifi bills and other personal expenses (shopping/ laundry)
- Dinner night 1, lunch and dinner on Day 2, dinner day 9, taxi to airport from Hosteria Airport Garden
- All expenses due to unavoidable events e.g. flight cancellation, personal illness, strikes, etc. (we recommend trip insurance coverage for these variables)
- Gratuity for guide(s) and crew (industry recommendation is 10-20% of total trip cost; please tip your lead guide and they will distribute responsibly to the crew. USD is recommended.)
See the Packing Lists
page for more information.
This Ecuador hiking tour features a combination of in-town and lodge meals and meals prepared by your guide.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We can often accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee, and in some countries may be more difficult to accommodate than others. Please inquire with us for more information about the specific trip you're interested in.
We provide all group gear which includes the following:
- Trekking poles
- Mountaineering boots, helmets and equipment
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Satellite phone
We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters
Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page
for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.
Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here
to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).
Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!
We will meet you at the airport on Day 1 and transport you to the first night's hotel (included). Your guide will be in contact approximately
4 weeks before your trip to coordinate your rendezvous and answer any last-minute questions you have.
Your safety is our top priority. Our Global Destination trips are led by professional hiking guides along with additional support staff. All of our guides are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Finally, we've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and all tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-888-966-TREK (8735)
for more information.
In the interest of your safety, it's important to refer to the Center for Disease Control website
for up-to-date recommendations on immunizations before your trip.
Your tour will be led by trained, experienced professionals with solid guiding backgrounds, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team
page for staff bios.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted
for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The standard group size on this hiking tour is 12 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-888-966-TREK (8735)
and we'll answer all your questions.
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
- 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis
For your protection, we strongly recommend the purchase of field evacuation, repatriation, and medical trip insurance. International travel is expensive, and the modest cost of trip insurance is a sound investment in an uncertain world.
If you wish to purchase trip insurance, we recommend IMG/iTravelinsured. They are one of the world’s leading providers of travel insurance.
For information on recommended IMG/iTravelinsured policies please click here
For even greater information, or if you simply prefer communicating with a real, live person, feel free to contact our exclusive agent Michael Bennett. Michael will help you identify the best product for your needs, and there is no cost associated with his assistance. You may contact him at:
US by Phone: 877-305-9083
Direct/International by Phone: 702-448-3664
If you already have insurance or wish to purchase from anyone other than IMG/iTravelinsured, we recommend careful consultation with the provider to ensure appropriate coverage. This is because many providers have a number of policy exclusions.
If you secure an insurance policy please bring a copy of it to provide to your guides at the orientation meeting.
Ecuador is home to part of the Amazon Rainforest as well as the towering Andes Mountains. Because of the wild elevation changes and diverse climates, the temperatures and weather can also vary dramatically. This tour's hiking is primarily in the high country so you can expect mountain weather. As we go higher in elevation the weather gets colder, often below freezing, with potential for wind, rain, snow...etc. Our lodge is at a much lower elevation and the weather there is quite temperate.
The average temperatures on Cotopaxi are:
This gorgeous architectural hotel is wonderfully located in the charming, historical center of Quito, where we can easily walk to churches, plazas, restaurants, and shops. It has huge picture windows overlooking the city.
This beautiful lodge is nestled literally in the "Avenue of the Volcanoes," putting us right in the action for our myriad of volcano hikes. After each hike the comfortable rooms, jacuzzi, and spa are welcome amenities!
Jose Rivas Refugio
Jose Rivas Refugio is a cozy, backcountry mountain hut where we will stage and rest before our ascent attempt on Cotopaxi. It has rustic, basic amenities and communal, dorm-style accommodations.
Papallacta Hot Springs Lodge
With amazing thermal pools, this mountain resort has premier hotel rooms built around steaming, turquoise hot springs where we will rest our tired muscles and bodies after our ascent of Cotopaxi.
(hot springs, pool, spa)
* These exact accommodations are not guaranteed. In some instances alternative accommodations of similar quality and location may be used.