Rumiñahui is located 28 miles/ 45 km south of Quito. It is a huge caldera open to the northwest with three main peaks: northern (15,492 ft/ 4.722 m), central (15,203 ft/ 4.634 m) and southern. The route to the summit begins at Cotopaxi National Park, near the shores of Lake Limpiopungo. It is a straightforward climb up Rumiñahui, with an occasional rock scramble near the summit. The ascent from the lake to the Central Peak is roughly 4 miles (6.5 km).
On the first day, we drive by the Mariscal Sucre Museum on the way to the basecamp. We will stop here and learn more about the unique natural history of the park. Then drive to the lake for an afternoon hike on the Limpiopungo Plateau. Hopefully we will spot some of the abundant wildlife, such as the many species of birds, herds of wild horses, llamas and páramo foxes.
Lake Limpiopungo means 'clean entrance’; this was named after the winds that blow through that drive the clouds away. The high number of clear days gives climbers an opportunity to enjoy the many lookouts along the approach and on the summit. On the hike up Rumiñahui you will have fantastic views of the national park and nearby volcanoes, with an especially spectacular view of Cotopaxi reflecting in Lake Limpiopungo.
Rumiñahui massive is an important historical location in Ecuador’s past, marking a pivotal Spanish victory during the conquest of the Incan empire. After the Incans were betrayed with the murder of Atahualpa, their emperor; General Rumiñahui hid the gold treasure ransom that the Incans were promised would free the imprisoned Atahualpa. The stoic general then led the fight against the Spanish conquistadores, and Rumiñahui massive is the location where he and his troops were finally defeated. The peak was named after this brave general.