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'Cotopaxi Ascent'

What makes this trip special?

The Guinea Pig Lake

The Guinea Pig Lake

Cuicocha circuit - Otavalo region

Cuicocha (literally Guinea Pig Lake in Quechua) is a deep-blue crater lake in a dormant volcano. Hike around the rim of the crater for truly spectacular views.

Dramatic views

Dramatic views

Fuya Fuya

Another acclimatisation walk as you hike to the top of Fuya Fuya at 4,283m above sea level, with fabulous views over three pristine Mojanda lakes.

Stare into smouldering fumaroles

Stare into smouldering fumaroles

Guagua Pichincha

Guagua Pichincha, an active volcano, rises to 4,794m. At the summit you can look down into the crater and its smouldering fumaroles.

Mountain hiking

Mountain hiking

Volcan Iliniza

A slightly more technical climb to Nuevos Horizontes Refuge, where you sleep in a mountain lodge dormitory at approx 4,650m above sea level.

Relaxation time before the big one

Relaxation time before the big one

Hacienda El Porvenir

Spend a well deserved morning relaxing at the picturesque Hacienda El Porvenir before attempting the big ascent up Cotopaxi.

Climbing Cotopaxi

Climbing Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi

Attracting hikers from all over the world, ascend the steep, high altitude (5,897m) of Cotopaxi Volcano. Parts of the ascent are over ice where ropes, crampons and ice axes are used.

Itinerary map for Ecuador & Galapagos 'Cotopaxi Ascent' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Quito
  • 2 Otavalo
  • 3 Quito
  • 4 Cotopaxi
  • 5 Cotopaxi
  • 6 Cotopaxi
  • 7 Cotopaxi
  • 8 Cotopaxi
  • 9 Quito
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Cotopaxi Ascent'

DAY 1

Arrive in Quito

You will be met on arrival at Quito airport and transferred to a 3* hotel.

DAY 2
BL

Cuicocha lagoon circuit

You meet your experienced, English speaking, local mountaineering guide who over the next seven days will personally supervise your acclimatisation and your attempt at the summit. A short drive north brings you to Cuicocha lagoon for a straightforward 5 hour walk around the rim of this beautiful crater lake at 3,400m. Overnight at Hacienda Pinsaqui near Otavalo.

DAY 3
BL

Summit of Fuya Fuya - 4283m

Today you start to stretch your sinews in greater earnest with a hike to the top of Fuya Fuya (4,283m) which gives great views over the three pristine Mojanda lakes and wide expanses of páramo grassland. Overnight in Quito.

DAY 4
BL

Summit of Guaga Pichincha - 4794m

Your acclimatisation continues today with a hike to the summit of Guagua Pichincha, at 4,794m. The two Pichinchas overlook Quito from the east. The smaller, Rucu Pichincha, is dormant, but Guagua Pichincha is active and over the centuries has several times spewed ash and more over the citizens below. During the ascent there are spectacular views of Quito and far beyond. At the summit you can look into the crater to fumaroles smouldering at the crater bottom. You can choose to drive to the start point or take the brand new cable car from Quito and walk from there. On your descent you will be transferred to Hacienda La Ciénega at Lasso for one night. Hiking time today is 4-6 hours.

DAY 5
BLD

Nuevos Horizontes for Iliniza Norte

Today you hike to Nuevos Horizontes Refuge which is just below a saddle between the two peaks of Iliniza volcano. We sleep here in a mountain lodge dormitory at 4,650m in readiness for Iliniza Norte. Hiking time: 3-4 hours.

DAY 6
BLD

Summit of Ilinizas Norte - 5120m

Dawn ascent of Ilinizas Norte, 5,120m. With normal conditions technical equipment will not be necessary as we walk on a ridge of solid rock, then traverse sandy ledges to reach the iron cross at the summit. On a clear day there are great views of Ecuador’s high snow-capped volcanoes and there is a chance of seeing condor in flight. Then descend and transfer to Hacienda El Porvenir, a characterful and comfortable hacienda built in traditional adobe and thatch style where we stay for one night. Hiking time: 3 hours ascending, 2 hours descending

DAY 7
BLD

Rest day

You spend the morning resting at Hacienda Porvenir before being driven to the shoulder of Cotopaxi at 4,600m. From here you walk up a slope of pumice and ash to the refuge at 4,800m. Your guide leads you onto the glacier’s snout for training in safety techniques, and the use of crampons and ice axe. Then it’s off to bed at 6pm to try to get some sleep.

DAY 8
BL

Summit of Cotopaxi - 5897m

At 11pm you will be woken for a high carb meal before you set off on your push for the summit. The ascent is made at night while the snow is most solid. The first section is over pumice, ash and ice lightly dusted with snow. Within an hour we reach the permanent snow line at 5,050m where ropes and harnesses come into play and we start using our crampons and ice axe. In normal conditions the going is pretty straightforward, with some crevasses that have to be crossed. After Yanasacha, an immense black rock face just below the summit at 5,700m, you will be very tired, but your guide is there to encourage, cajole and curse you into the final push up the steepest section and, at last, on to the summit. The total time for the ascent is usually between 6 and 9 hours. Sunrise at the summit of Cotopaxi is an amazing experience. From here you can see all the snow-capped volcanoes of Ecuador, northwards well beyond the Colombian border, and the continental divide between the Amazon to the east and the Pacific lowlands to the west. You will also be able to peer into Cotopaxi’s huge, active, sulphur-ous crater (800m by 600m). We’ll start descending soon, to avoid risks of soft afternoon snow. The descent takes less than half as long, but we’ll take it slowly as the majority of accidents occur on the way down. Our support vehicle will be waiting just below the refuge to transfer us back to Quito where the rest of the day is free for some well deserved relaxation, a hot shower, a hearty meal and maybe even a beer…

DAY 9
B

Return to Quito

Today you are driven to Quito airport for your flight home or onwards.

Guide prices for 'Cotopaxi Ascent'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide Price 2 people sharing £call
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Ecuador
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • all excursions as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Cotopaxi Ascent'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'Cotopaxi Ascent'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
2 Otavalo 19°C rainfall 90mm
3 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
4 Cotopaxi 9°C rainfall 83mm
5 Cotopaxi 9°C rainfall 83mm
6 Cotopaxi 9°C rainfall 83mm
7 Cotopaxi 9°C rainfall 83mm
8 Cotopaxi 9°C rainfall 83mm
9 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Cotopaxi Ascent'

Day 1

Hotel La Rabida

Quito modern part
rating

Average rating 4.4 (16 ratings)

Hotel de La Rábida is a traditional Quito home that has been renovated and turned into a rather charming small guest house. It is situated in the modern part of Quito. It has characterful lounge with log fire and small patio garden.

Hotel La Rabida
Bedroom
Day 2

Hacienda Pinsaqui

5km north of Otavalo
rating

Average rating 4.2 (5 ratings)

Hacienda Pinsaquí has 30 rooms set in a renovated colonial textile weavers house with antique furnishings and an attractive garden setting. It is located 5km outside the town of Otavalo. The bedrooms have ensuite facilities and fireplaces (some also have a  jacuzzi bath). There is an old chapel in the grounds and a restaurant on site.

Hacienda Pinsaqui
Room
Day 3

Hotel La Rabida

Quito modern part
rating

Average rating 4.4 (16 ratings)

Hotel de La Rábida is a traditional Quito home that has been renovated and turned into a rather charming small guest house. It is situated in the modern part of Quito. It has characterful lounge with log fire and small patio garden.

Hotel La Rabida
Bedroom
Day 4

Hacienda La Cienega

Lasso
rating

Average rating 4.1 (16 ratings)

Hostería La Ciénega is a characterful hotel converted from one of Ecuador’s oldest haciendas, dating from 1580. Set in extensive grounds it is approached along an avenue of fragrant eucalyptus trees. Its well regarded restaurant, 34 guest rooms and suites are set around a series of attractive courtyard gardens, some of which are recent additions. La Ciénega offers rooms with colonial and 19th century furnishings and has many other reminders of its past, including a private chapel. Horse riding is usually available for guests.

Hacienda La Cienega
Suite
Day 5

Mountain Refuge

Mountain Refuge
Day 6

El Porvenir

isolated behind Cotopaxi
rating

Average rating 4.6 (9 ratings)

Hacienda El Porvenir is a characterful adobe and thatch building set in extensive grounds at high elevation in the foothills of the Rumiñahui volcano, behind Cotopaxi. There are a choice of bedrooms style. Some are en-suite. The restaurant serves local Ecuadorian food. There are a wide variety of active and adventure excursions available at additional cost such as helping out on the farm, horse-riding, hiking and mountain biking.

El Porvenir
Corazon suite
Day 8

Hotel La Rabida

Quito modern part
rating

Average rating 4.4 (16 ratings)

Hotel de La Rábida is a traditional Quito home that has been renovated and turned into a rather charming small guest house. It is situated in the modern part of Quito. It has characterful lounge with log fire and small patio garden.

Hotel La Rabida
Bedroom