Excursions

Quito City Tour

Quito City Tour

Few cities in the world can match the setting of Quito, the second highest capital in Latin America after La Paz in Bolivia, with a height of 2.800 m / 9,148 ft above sea level. The city lies in a narrow plateau running North to South and it is wedged between the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano to the West, and a steep canyon to the East formed by the Machangara River and the Inter-Andean Valley.

Quito is very much a city of two halves: The Old City is the colonial centre, where pastel-coloured houses and ornate churches line a warren of steep and narrow streets, and the new town where you will find Quito’s main residential and business areas.

In 1978 UNESCO declared Quito a World Heritage Site, making it the first city to acquire this prominent status in the world. It’s architectural beauty, the fine art collections, numerous museums and unique traditions make it a place where you always want to come back.

San Francisco ChurchDuring the morning, we will visit some of the main colonial churches in the old part of Quito such as Santo Domingo, the Basílica and the famous San Francisco, which was the first religious building constructed in South America by the Spanish, in 1538. Then we drive up to the hill of El Panecillo where an impressive statue of the Virgin looks after the city, and offers one of the greatest views of Quito.

Later in the afternoon after lunch, we will drive down to see the Church of Guapulo, worth visiting for its unique paintings and hidden location. It was also one of the first churches established by the Catholic Church in Ecuador.

Exploring the city is a good way to begin your acclimatisation process!

 

Itinerary in Brief – One DayThe Old City of Quito

  • Pick up at Quito at around 9:00
  • Drive to the Old city
  • Walk to the colonial churches
  • Drive to Panecillo Hill
  • Lunch
  • Drive down to Guapulo Church
  • Visit the Guayasamin Museum
  • Back to hostel by 16:30

Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.




 

Cuicocha

Cuicocha

To the Northwest of the town of Otavalo and just 58 km North of Quito stands Cotacachi, a sacred mountain in the religious conception of the northern Indians. It is and old eroded and extinct volcano located in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.
Below its slopes lies the remains of yet another volcano called Cuicocha Crater or Guinea Pig Lagoon, whose caldron was filled by the water of the melting glaciers above, thousands of years ago. Cuicocha is a collapsed volcanic crater that measures 3 km / 1,9 miles in diameter and is about 200 m / 656 ft deep, but still shows signs of activity.


Itinerary

Cuicocha Lake with the IslandDuring the around the crater you can clearly see the lagoon: the name Cuicocha comes from the shape of one of the islands in the middle of the lagoon that resembles the shape of a "cui" or guinea pig.
During the hike you an also enjoy some spectacular ciews of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

 

 

 

 


 

Day 1Taking a Rest with the Lake in the Back

  • Pick up at Quito at around 7:30
  • Two and a half hours drive to Cuicocha
  • Five hours hike around the crater
  • Box lunch
  • Back at Quito by 19:00

Important Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.



Map

Also see our Interactive Map.

Cuicocha

 

Pasochoa

Pasochoa

Pasochoa is an ancient and heavily eroded volcano that has been inactive since the last ice age. It is located 30 km South of Quito. Inside the crater there is the Pasochoa Protected Forest Reserve, a humid Andean Forest, with more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees at an altitude of 2.700 m / 8,856 ft to 4.200 m / 13,776 ft. Some of the plants have an important medicinal value. Inside the crater there are several self-guided loop trails to be taken which vary from one to seven hours. On a sunny day it is possible to see the magnificent condors flying inside the crater.


Itinerary

Hiking to PasochoaOne of the routes up Pasochoa is by the North-eastern side. This is the shortest approach to the summit and is a good first acclimatisation hike. You can gain altitude much faster than following the crater route.
We drive for one and a half hours to an altitude of 3.400 m / 11,152 ft where we start walking.
The hike normally takes four hours up to the summit and the descent two hours.

 


 

 

Day 1Coming Down; Crater on the Right

  • Pick up at Quito at around 7:30
  • 1 1/2 hours drive to Pasochoa
  • Four hour hike to the summit
  • Box lunch
  • Two hours down to the vehicle
  • Back at Quito by 17:30

Important Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.



Map

Also see our Interactive Map.

Pasochoa

 

Pambamarca

Pambamarca

Not many people know Pambamarca. At the end of the 15th century it was an important indigenous military base. It was a key area for local resistance forces, first during their fight against the Incas and later against the Spanish. Here you will find the so-called "pucara", that in the Quichua language means "fortress" or "castle". A pucara is characterised by its form of concentric circles of walls and pits, located at the top of a hill. Actually, there is over 30 pucaras placed on strategic locations around Pambamarca. Pucaras are mainly found in the North of Ecuador, although some exist in other areas as well.


Itinerary

Hill Forts around PambamarcaFrom Quito the day begins with a 1 1/2 hours drive to the town of Cangahua at the base of the hill.
From there we start the hike towards the highest pucara.
It normally takes no more than four hours up and two hours down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1On the Top

  • Pick up at Quito at around 7:30
  • One and a half hours drive to Cangahua
  • Four hours hike to the summit
  • Box lunch
  • Two hours down to the vehicle
  • Back at Quito by 17:30

Important Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.


Map

Also see our Interactive Map.

Pambamarca

 

Imbabura

Imbabura

Imbabura is a strato volcano located 40 miles (65 km) north of Quito. There are two main summits on Imbabura. The higher peak (100 m/328 ft) is reached by traversing a knife edge crater rim from the north summit of the normal route.
The peaks of Imbabura were once glaciated, and used to serve as an important ice source for the nearby villages. People would climb high onto the mountain to get ice from the glacier and carry it back to sell at the markets in the villages of Otavalo and Ibarra. Today the village of Otavalo is still famous for its large market, although it is now largely a craft market selling items such as vibrant textiles, wood carvings, and the Panama hats (which actually originated in Ecuador).


Itinerary

Traversing the Crater RimImbabura's steep slopes make it a good acclimatization climb for those preparing for Ecuador’s famous high altitude volcanoes.
Highlights include hiking through tall grass páramo and rocky outcroppings followed by lush vegetation higher on the mountain.
Imbabura overlooks San Pablo Lake, Ecuador’s largest natural lake. On a clear day you have a beautiful views of the northern part of the so-called "Avenue of the Volcanoes", including Cayambe, Antisana, Ilinizas, Volcan Chiles and Cumbal located in Colombia.

 




Day 1View from the Top

  • Pick up at Quito at around 7:30
  • Travel for 2 hours to Hostel Casa de Aida at the base of the peak
  • Visit the Otavalo Market or Cuicocha lake on the way
  • Lunch in Otavalo or Cuicocha

Day 2

  • Early start for the 6-7 hours hike
  • Box lunch
  • Two hours drive to Quito
  • Descend to the vehicle
  • Back at Quito by 19:00

Important Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.


Map

Also see our Interactive Map.

Imbabura

 

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Climbing Difficulty Levels

The following scale reflects the difficulty of the climb considering the technical specifications, experience required, altitude and duration of the ascent. The grades are roughly estimated and you have to take into account the difficulty varies depending on your personal fitness and experience.

Intermediate - No previous mountaineering skills are required. Climbers should be in acceptable physical condition and it is highly recommended that participants have some backpacking experience. In some cases a rope may be used to belay some exposed places.

Advanced - Basic mountaineering skills required, experience in high altitude and use of climbing gear such as crampons, rope and ice axe is preferred, but not required. A moderate climb usually is on a glacier, you may have to cross some crevasses, the slopes are not so steep (max. 40%) and full gear is used on all climbs. Very good physical condition is required.

Strenuous - More than 6.000 m / 19,600 ft technical climbs with steep snow slopes and exposed ridges, you may encounter some crevassed sections. Experience in high altitude and proper use of equipment as well as some knowledge of mountaineering techniques are required. Climbers should be comfortable on snow and ice up to 50 degrees. An excellent physical condition is a must.

Ascension Success Rates

The following information is based on our own records since 2005. It represents the percentage of trips in which we have taken at least one client to the summit.
Besides the percentage, we also give you a brief description of the most common cause for not been able to reach the top.

Chimborazo: 70%
Icy conditions and lack of stamina from climbers ( clients running out of fuel!)

Cotopaxi: 85%
Strong winds.

Cayambe: 75%
Bad Weather.

Antisana: 65%
Not being able to cross the bergschrund around the summit.