Climbing Ecuador’s Volcanic Peaks
PROGRAM DURATION: 18 DAYS / 17 NIGHTS
Flight to Quito
Meet up and reception at Quito’s airport. Transfer to your hotel, 2800 m
Transfer 1 hora
Walking tour through Quito’s Old Town
We will explore Quito’s Old Town on foot along narrow streets, beautiful colonial architecture, a beautiful plaza and golden churches. From the top of Quito’s Cable Car (Teleférico) at 4000 m, we will get a spectacular view of the city and its nearby volcanoes. Accommodation in Quito.
3-4 hour walk, 2 hours by bus
Quito’s Main Plaza, it’s Presidential Palace and Cathedral.
Hike around Cuicocha Lagoon and Crater, 3500 m
A 3-hour bus ride will take us north of the equator where we will hike around Cuicocha Lagoon, one of the most beautiful hikes in this part of the country. This is an introductory hike that will last 4-5 hours and allow you to appreciate the surrounding volcanoes. Overnight stay in Otavalo at 2600 m.
4 to 5 hour walk between 3100 and 3500 meters, 4 hours by bus.
Cuicocha is a perfect crater in the Ecuadorian highlands.
Fuya Fuya Volcano Climb, 4279 m
We will take a bus to the Mojanda Lakes at 3700m where we will be surrounded by native vegetation of the Andean grasslands, called the Páramo. Fuya Fuya has two peaks and we will summit both of them. After this hike, we will take a bus to the indigenous community of San Clemente, along the slopes of Volcano Imbabura. Here, local families have opened their homes and welcome tourists; it’s an opportunity to share cultures with a local family. San Clemente is located at 2800 m.
3 to 4 hour walk between 3700 and 4200 m, 2 hour bus ride.
View of Mojanda Lagoon from Fuya Fuya volcano.
Imbabura Volcano Climb, 4600 m
Imbabura is a beautiful, steep volcano. After traversing the paramo vegetation and rocky terrain, we will reach the first summit. During the last hour of the hike we will walk along the edge of the crater until we reach the main summit, which can be physically demanding. Today’s ascent is more demanding, generally, both physically and technically, but also offers spectacular views of the surrounding valley and lakes. It is definitely a good opportunity to acclimatize! Accommodation in San Clemente.
8 to 10 hours hike between 3500 and 4600 meters, 1 hour bus ride.
The edge of the Imbabura crater with the main summit on the left.
Camping near Ilinizas, 4000 m
After 3 days of walking and climbing, we will travel south to the region around the Illiniza volcano. To get to the mountain, we have to change to a 4×4 car that will take us to “La Virgen” camp. We will sleep in tents and a cook will prepare a delicious dinner.
4 hours by bus, 30 minutes by 4×4
“La Virgen” campsite at 4000 m at the base of Volcano Iliniza
North Iliniza Climb, 5125 m
For the first 3 hours of this climb, we will walk along a path to a basic cabin. Then we will continue along a path that joins North and South Illiniza. From here, the terrain changes and the next two hours to the summit are quite rocky. After 6 hours, we will reach the summit. The way back to the camp takes another 2.5 hours. North Illiniza has no glacier, but there may be snow.
This is another good climb for acclimatization that offers exciting and complex parts where your guides may provide ropes. After the ascent, we will drive to the Antisana natural reserve and spend the night in a rural hotel.
8 to 10 hour hike between 4000 and 5126 meters, 2.5 hour bus ride.
Climbing North Iliniza, 5126 m
Camping at Antisana, 4500 m
The Antisana Nature Reserve is one of the best locations to spot condors. From our farm, there is a high probability to observe these great birds. In the morning, we will have some free time and then go to the National Park. After the checkpoint, we will continue to the end of the road and from this point, a 4×4 vehicle will take all our equipment to the camp, located on the west slope of Antisana at 4500 m. This site is very beautiful and offers an excellent view of Antisana as well as the Cotopaxi volcano to the south.
1 hour walk from 4200 to 4500 meters, 1.5 hour bus ride.
Antisana, heading to the glacier.
Ice training on the Antisana glacier at 4800m, camping at night
After breakfast, we will walk to the glacier to practice climbing techniques using crampons and ice climbing (top rope). We will verify the correct way to use a rope. While we understand that you are likely an experienced climber, it is always good to refresh certain techniques and this day is also a good day for acclimatization. Antisana is one of the country’s most beautiful volcanoes; it has a beautiful glacier not frequently visited. Back at the camp we will have an early dinner.
2 hour walk, 3 to 4 hours ice training.
Antisana Climb, 5760 m
Climbing Antisana is particularly challenging. It is a remote mountain and has the largest and most interesting glaciers in Ecuador. Our ascent begins at midnight, where we will navigate through a large glacier with many crevasses. The normal route does not normally require much technique, but the location of the crevasses may force us to climb short and steep sections. Once up on the summit plateau, the last 30 minutes are flat. On the way back, to reach the camp we will follow the same route to the end of the glacier.
After a good rest, we will walk down to the bus. A 4×4 car will take the camping equipment and staff to the road. The bus will take us to Hacienda Mortiños, a special place at the base of Cotopaxi, where we will recover for 2 nights.
10 to 12 hour climb between 4500 and 5760 meters, 3 hour bus ride.
Rest day at Hacienda Los Mortiños, 3650 m
This hotel is located next to Cotopaxi and offers an excellent view of the volcano. Here, we will recover and enjoy this beautiful place. If you feel up to it, there are great hiking options in the surrounding area.
Hacienda Los Mortiños, 3650m
Cotopaxi Refuge, 4864m
We will head to the Cotopaxi National Park parking lot by bus (4600 m) where we will head up to the refuge (1 hour hike). Here, we will meet other climbers that plan to summit Cotopaxi which is a popular climb because of its perfectly conical, snowy peak. Night at the refuge.
1 hour hike from 4600 to 4864 meters, 1 hour by bus.
Cotopaxi Climb, 5897 m
Here, too, we have an early start. Following a small path, we will reach the glacier at 5200 m. Usually, there is a well marked route on the glacier. The last section from the Yanasacha headland to the summit is the steepest and most demanding, but the view from the top is worth the physical effort! On a clear day we can see all the high volcanoes of Ecuador and can even appreciate volcanic activity from within the crater. Back at the refuge, we will pack up our equipment for a short walk back to the parking lot where the bus will be waiting for us. After a short drive, we will arrive at a historical place: the Hosteria La Cienega, located at 3000 m.
8 to 10 hour climb between 4864 and 5897 meters, 1.5 hours by bus.
Cotopaxi, heading back to the refuge.
Travel along the Pan-American Highway to Chimborazo.
We will have time to enjoy this 300 year old farm and its beautiful gardens before heading out in the late morning. We will drive along the Panamericana to the south and reach another very special place on the slopes of Ecuador’s highest volcano: the Chimborazo Mountain Lodge at 4000 m. On the way, we will observe wild vicuñas. These beautiful animals are related to the llamas and many people think they’re cute!
4 hours by bus.
Camping on the west flank of Chimborazo Volcano, 5300m.
We will arrive by bus to the parking lot at 4850 m. Here, we will take our backpacks that include only our climbing and sleeping equipment, leaving all unnecessary items in the bus, and start walking to the camp. We should be acclimatized enough to spend the night at 5300 m. By walking slowly and saving energy, we will reach this place with no problem. We will be using a permanent campsite with tents and high altitude camp services. From the camp, you’ll likely see a beautiful sunset.
3 hour walk from 4850 to 5300 meters, 1 hour by bus.
Chimborazo Climb, 6268 m
We’ll have an early start, beginning at midnight. First, we will reach 5500 m and continue climbing until we reach the glacier. Climbing Chimborazo involves a steep and endless ascent, it takes good physical condition and a strong mind to reach the top. Finally, the summit plateau is very flat, but we will have to continue for another half hour to reach the highest point, the Whymper summit. Getting to the top of Chimborazo is likely the most important part of our Ecuador climbing expedition!
On the way back, we will pass by the high altitude camp again, rest, pack our equipment and walk to the road. On the bus, we will stop by the city of Baños, located at 1900 m. Imagine, a trip from the highest, snowy peak to the lush jungle lowlands!
10 to 12 hour climb, 1000 m uphill 1450 m downhill, 3 hours by bus.
Chimborazo, seen from 5300m
Visit to Baños and return to Quito
We will explore the jungle waterfalls, a wonderful contrast to yesterday’s landscape. This is precisely what makes Ecuador so special; over relatively short distances, we can experience completely different ecosystems. The difference couldn’t be greater! We also have time to spend in Baños, a small tourist town, before returning to Quito in the afternoon.
1 hour walk, 4 hours by bus.
Transfer to airport
1 hour by bus