PROGRAM DURATION: 4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS
This hike takes us through one of the most interesting areas of the northern Ecuadorian highlands. The Cotacachi-Cayapas reserve is a place where you can observe different landscapes such as cultivated farmland, mountain villages, Andean forests, lakes,
mountains and pre-Columbian ruins. Yanahurco, at 4535 m, is one of the highest mountains in the area. Here the Andean Condor, a national symbol, can still be spotted soaring in the skies.
4h hike / Campsite at 2900 m.
After breakfast we will leave Quito and head to the Cotacachi – Cayapas reserve. We’ll reach small, remote towns by 4×4 vehicle and observe a diversity of vegetation of the area, including barren landscapes, as well as green prairies. After lunch, we’ll follow a trail to reach a small indigenous settlement where we will set up camp at 2900m.
6 – 7h hike / Campsite at 3900 m.
After breakfast, we will go to Yanacocha Lake where we will start our hike. We’ll pass by a pre-Colombian trail, once traveled by the Caranqui ethnic group approximately 1000 years ago. We will arrive at Churoloma, formally known as Ayanburo, which in the Caranqui language means “Sacred Mother Mountain”. From its summit we can observe concentric circles that once served as an astronomical observatory. We’ll continue until we reach the Cucharo crater where we can observe the pre-Colombian walls that enclose the crater. Campsite beside Yanancocha lake at 3900m.
6 – 7h hike / Campsite at 4100 m.
Early hike to the summit of Yanaurco at 4535 m. At the summit, there is a pre-Colombian astronomical observatory of the Caranqui culture, likely dating back 900 and 1000 years.
The archaeological remains can be viewed from the top of the mountain and is one of the highest temples in Ecuador. From here you can see the upper grasslands, the Andean Polylepis forests and the rich flora and fauna of the area. This region has an abundant population of raptors and scavengers, including an important population of condors. After summiting, we will continue walking towards our campsite at 4000 m where we’ll spend the night.
7-8h hike Hike finishes at 2900m.
On Day 4, we’ll continue a long descent to the small village at 3100 m.
We finish the day with a delicious bath in the hot springs before heading to our next destination. You can choose between either departing to Quito or staying the night here.
In tents (for 2)
Full Equiped Tent
Kitchen, mats, SSHH
Day 1 until day 4
Does not include: Personal hiking equipment like sleeping bag, backpack, good boots, sweater, thermal pants and raingear, headlamp, gloves, hat, sunscreen (SPF 50+), sun hat, camera, water bottle or canteen.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
May – August
November – December
Although this is a moderate walk, it could be difficult if you are not properly acclimatized. Be prepared to walk along trails, as well as in cross-country terrain, swamps and forests. Don’t expect to find well-marked trails like those in the Alps or U.S. National Parks.