Cotopaxi Challenge

Cotopaxi Challenge

Cotopaxi is without a doubt one of the most beautiful peaks in the world. A perfect conic volcano.
It is the most popular mountain of Ecuador and perhaps the most frequently climbed in all the Andes. Being there, so many times, made us think of an alternative way of approaching the mountain.


Unlike all the commercial mountain tours to Cotopaxi in which you drive to the mountain refuge, we would like to offer a different way of approaching this spectacular volcano. We propose a challenging trekking all the way up to the refuge. This offers you a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the beautiful, peaceful countryside around the mountain, whilst putting yourself to the test.
We will hike for 4 days until we get into the Cotopaxi National Park. On the way we will climb Pasochoa 4.200 m / 13,776 ft and hike along the grasslands of the Andean "paramo". Once we are in the park we walk up to the Central Summit of Rumiñahui at 4.600 m / 15,088 ft, have a rest day and later continue towards the Jose Rivas Refuge on Cotopaxi at 4.800 m /15,744 ft.


Santa Rita CampDay 1
Hike to Hacienda Santa Rita
- 3.280 m / 10,758 ft
After a short drive of only one hour, we start hiking from the village of Santa Clara located in the Valley of Los Chillos at 2.750 m / 9,020 ft. The trek follows cobble stone roads on the side of the Pita River, which comes from Cotopaxi National Park.
Close to the Hacienda Santa Rita we pass in front of a Shrine, where locals come to worship the "Virgen de la Piedra", the Virgin of the Rock.
Today’s hike will take around 5 hours. When you get to the Hacienda the camp will already be set up. You will spend your first night at an altitude of 3.280 m / 10,758 ft.


Day 2Pasochoa
Hike to Pasochoa - 4.200 m / 13,776 ft

Today we leave in the morning around 8 a.m. for a 6 hours hike to the Pasochoa volcano. We will be crossing the fields of Hacienda Santa Rita.
Pasochoa is an ancient and heavily eroded volcano that has been inactive since the last ice age. If the weather permits, from the summit, we will be able to take a good look at the crater. Inside you will see the Pasochoa Protected Forest Reserve, a humid Andean Forest with more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees, located between 2.700 m / 8,856 ft and 4.200 m / 13,776 ft. On a sunny day you can normally see condors. We return to Santa Rita camp site for the night.

Day 3El Porvenir
Hike to Hacienda El Porvenir - 3.600 m / 11,808 ft

Today we hike towards the hacienda El Porvenir. Part of the hike goes through humid Andean Forest where there is a chance to see hummingbirds.
El Porvenir is one of the largest farms in Ecuador. It can be used as a base for excellent hikes within the Cotopaxi Park. Located at 3.600 m / 11,808 ft, El Porvenir is surrounded by four volcanoes: Cotopaxi, Sincholahua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. Here you will be able to enjoy your stay in a comfortable, functional and beautiful traditional Andean hacienda. The "casa de hacienda", or farmhouse, is built with materials such as brick, straw, wood and adobe that have been used for centuries. If Porvenir is not available we will use Hacienda Los Mortiños

Day 4
Central Summit of Rumiñahui - 4.600 m / 15,088 ft
From Hacienda El Porvenir we start hiking towards the central ridge of Rumiñahui, leading to the middle summit. The rock on this mountain can be a bit loose underfoot, so we have to take care, but the views from the summit are really worth it. The volcano is located only 13 km North West of Cotopaxi and it is named after Atahualpa’s general, who was the last Inca Emperor. After the emperor was murdered, Rumiñahui led the fight against the Spanish conquerors. In Quichua his name means "stone face". We spend the night at Tambopaxi.

Cotopaxi From TambopaxiDay 5
Hike to José Rivas Refuge - 4.800 m / 15,744 ft
After breakfast we start hiking towards Cotopaxi Volcano. Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world and its refuge is as high as the highest mountain in Western Europe. The hike will take 4 hours uphill until we reach the refuge at 4.800 m / 15,744 ft. The hut stands at the highest altitude reached during our trip. With luck we will be able to enjoy the sun setting over the surrounding peaks. Later we return to Quito.


Important Note: Please note that this itinerary is a guide line only. We will do every effort to follow it, but in case of unforeseen circumstances we may have to make changes.


Also see our Interactive Map.

Cotopaxi Challenge











Cotopaxi Challenge - Departures


- Sunday 10-11-2019 till 
     Thursday 14-11-2019 

- Sunday 24-11-2019 till 
     Thursday 28-11-2019 

- Sunday 08-12-2019 till 
     Thursday 12-12-2019 

- Wednesday 25-12-2019 till 
     Sunday 29-12-2019 

- Friday 03-01-2020 till 
     Tuesday 07-01-2020 

- Sunday 19-01-2020 till 
     Thursday 23-01-2020 

<<Confirmed departure spaces available

-Sunday 05-04-2020 till 
     Thursday 09-04-2020

<<Confirmed departure spaces available

- Sunday 21-06-2020 till 
     Thursday 25-06-2020

- Sunday 05-07-2020 till 
     Thursday 09-07-2020

- Sunday 19-07-2020 till 
     Thursday 23-07-2020

- Sunday 02-08-2020 till 
     Thursday 06-08-2020

 - Sunday 08-11-2020 till 
     Thursday 12-11-2020



New dates can be open with a minimum of 2 hikers.

Please send us an This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book this Cotopaxi Challenge.

Cotopaxi Challenge - Logistics

Duration: 5 days

Access: Drive in and drive out

Seasons: All year round

Pre-requisites: Backpacking experience

Equipment: Trekking Expeditions Gear List
Please download the Pdf

Accommodation: Hostels and mountain refuges


Difficulty Levels:

Pasochoa: Moderate

Rumiñahui: Moderate

Cotopaxi: Intermediate


Cotopaxi Challenge - Prices

1 pax  USD 1.780,00 per person

2 pax  USD 990,00 per person

3 pax or more USD 900,00 per person

What the price includes

      • All transport by private vehicles during the program when needed.
      • All the food once out of Quito.
      • Two nights of camping
      • A base camp cook-manager
      • Accommodation: Hacienda Porvenir or Los Mortiños and Tambopaxi lodge  (standard machai rooms)
      • Camping gear.
      • Permits and park fees.
      • Bilingual guide.

The price does not include

      • International flights.
      • Travel insurance.
      • Accommodation and meals while in Quito.
      • Alcoholic drinks.
      • Extras, laundry, tips.



Cotopaxi Challenge - Highlights

This exceptional Cotopaxi Challenge offers you:

      • Unique route and itinerary to trek into Cotopaxi National Park.
      • An excellent gradual acclimatisation process.
      • Exclusive route to approach Cotopaxi National Park.
      • Great opportunity to see the rural life in the Ecuadorian Andes.
      • Hike from the Limpiopungo Plateau to the refuge of Cotopaxi; a 1.050 m / 3,444 ft climb.
      • Highest altitude reached on the trek is 4.800 m / 15,740 ft.

Trekking Expeditions

Andeanface offers you two Trekking Expeditions, multiple day hiking adventures that go off the beaten track towards two chosen beautiful regions of the central Andes of Ecuador:

Cotopaxi Challenge - 5 days / 3 mountains

Quilotoa Trek - 4 days / 35 kms