Cotopaxi Challenge

A quest for the senses in a magical route to one of Ecuador’s most iconic scenery





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 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.

Arrive/Depart: Quito

Group Size: 2-10 Guests

Pre-requisites: Good physical condition

Difficulty Levels:
Easy: Pasochoa
Moderate: Rumiñahui
Moderate: Cotopaxi

Accomodation: 4 nights - 2 Camping / 2 Haciendas VIEW LODGING

Activity: Trekking / Wildlife & Natural History

Seasons: All year round

Equipment: Trekking Expeditions Gear List
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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 Rumipamba over the Valley of Los Chillos at 2.850 m / 9,320 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.

Activity: Drive / 4-5 hours hiking

Accommodation: Camping

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Lunch, Dinner


Pasochoa Hike [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 eventually see condors. We return to Santa Rita campsite for the night.

Activity: 5-6 hours trekking up and down Pasochoa

Accommodation: Camping

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Hike to Hacienda El Porvenir or Los Mortiños [3.600 m / 11,808 ft]

Today we hike towards the hacienda El Porvenir or Los Mortinios. 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 National Park. Located at 3.600 m / 11,808 ft, El Porvenir & Los Mortinios are 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.

Activity: 4-5 hours trekking

Accommodation: Hacienda El Porvenir

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Central Summit of Rumiñahui [4.600 m / 15,092 ft]

From Hacienda El Porvenir or Los Mortinios we do a short drive to Limpiopungo lake, from here we start trekking 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.

Activity: 5-6 hours trekking up and down Rumiñahui

Accommodation: Tambopaxi Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Hike to José Rivas Refuge [5.000 m / 16,400 ft]

After breakfast, we do a short drive to the base of Cotopaxi, from there we start hiking towards the climbers' refuge and to the glacier at 5.00m/ 16000ft. 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 2 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. Return to Quito.

Activity: 4 hours trekking up / Drive back to Quito

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


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


  • 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 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




Our Complimentary Extension Packages offer great opportunities to explore some of Ecuador’s most dramatic scenaries, which have earned the country a reputation as one of the most bio diverse and unique regions on the planet.

We work with carefully selected tourism operators, which will offer the same quality and high standards of service that our clients expect from us.

You can choose from a selection of various (active) outdoor activities in the Galapagos, the Cloud Forest or Amazon Jungle. We highly recommend to extent your trip with a rafting experience.



Scheduled Dates

* A “CONFIRMED DEPARTURE” is when we have at least 2 participants booked!

Sunday JAN 22 - Thursday JAN 26, 2023


Sunday JAN 29 - Thursday FEB 02, 2023


Sunday FEB 12 - Wednesday FEB 16, 2022


Sunday APR 02 - Thursday APR 06, 2023


Sunday MAY 21 - Thursday MAY 25, 2023


Sunday JUN 25 - Thursday JUN 29, 2023


Sunday JUL 02 - Thursday JUL 06, 2023


Sunday JUL 23 - Thursday JUL 27, 2023


Sunday AUG 06 - Thursday AUG 10, 2023


Sunday NOV 05 - Thursday NOV 09, 2023


Sunday NOV 19 - Thursday NOV 23, 2023


Sunday DEC 03 - Thursday DEC 07, 2023


Monday DEC 25 - Friday DEC 29, 2023


Sunday JAN 07 - Thursday JAN 11, 2024


2022 Prices

1 pax - USD 1.930 per person
2 pax - USD 1.050 per person
Single Room Suplement - USD 350

2023 Prices

1 pax - USD 1.930 per person
2 pax - USD 1.138 per person
Single Room Suplement - USD 350

Trip Cost Includes

  • All transport by private vehicles during the program
  • 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 shared rooms)
  • Camping gear
  • Permits and park fees
  • Bilingual guide

Trip Cost Does Not Include

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


There are several reasons: It is a unique approach to Cotopaxi National park! Our team is formed by the best Ecuadorian hiking guides. Our guides are an integral part of Andeanface because they understand and share our principles. The quality of our guiding staff is what makes us stand out from other companies. The accomodation used during this expedition gives it an added value, some nights are spent in Haciendas, which are traditional fams houses converted into mountain lodges.