Price: contact us for current price list (both with and without hacienda upgrade)
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Max Guide Ratio:
Old Quito Tour: visit colonial churches with their grand altars made of Inca gold, sculptures and intricate carvings
Standing at the top of Cotopaxi's snow covered crater rim and looking down into the crater
Sweeping views from the summit of Ecuador’s tallest volcano, on a clear day you can see down into the Amazon jungle basin and the many neighboring peaks
The unique charm of Ecuador's traditional haciendas
This trip takes you up one of Ecuador’s most popular snow-capped volcanoes, Cotopaxi, famous for its perfect cone-shaped peak, and snow-covered crater. The trip starts with a series of acclimatization adventures. First you will go on a city tour of colonial Quito and visit the Equatorial Line. The following four days are filled with acclimatization hikes, up both Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. The trip concludes with the summit of Cotopaxi (5,897 m / 19,300 ft).
We follow the Canal Rio Pita route up Pasochoa, a straightforward moderately sloped climb through the rolling páramo grasslands up to the summit. At the top, you will have sweeping views of the valley below, including a look down into one of the few remaining humid Andean forests. This Forest Preserve fills the horseshoe shaped Pasochoa crater, and is home to more than 110 species of birds, including the King of the Andes, the condor.
After you have acclimatized to the elevation, we will begin the high altitude portion of the trip. First we climb Cotopaxi; where at the top, you will be able to look inside the crater and see its sulfur fumaroles and enjoy the panoramic views of the adjacent snow-covered volcanoes.
Cotopaxi requires ice-climbing equipment (basic rental gear is included in the trip package), excellent physical condition and lots of stamina. Most of the time, it is not technically difficult, but there are periods when hard ice conditions can make it very challenging.
You have the option to stay in a number of beautiful haciendas and lodges along the trip. In the hacienda package, the first two nights in Quito will be spent at Hotel Cafe Cultura, where you will be greeted with a bottle of wine, fruit tray and fresh flowers. Cafe Cultura was previously home to one of Quito's oldest families and the French Cultural Centre- now it is open to visitors after being carefully restored. It is a blend of modern technology with the unique charm of the original estate and quiet patio garden nooks.
In the Andean highlands we will stay at Chilcabamba which is surrounded by volcanoes on all four sides: Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. It is a traditional style Andean hacienda, with warm crackling fireplaces and a comfortable old world charm. We will also be staying at Hacienda la Cienega, a regal colonial hacienda surrounded with beautiful landscaping and vibrant flowers.
Like all snowcapped peaks in Ecuador, avalanches are common during the day due to the more direct angle of the sunlight characteristic of regions this close to the Equatorial Line. As a safety measure, we will climb at night and reach the summit by 7:30 a.m., this will enable our safe return to base camp before the snow pack becomes too warm and soft.
Images © Cafe Cultura, Reno at Chilcabamba, Tambopaxi