Quilotoa Trek and Cotopaxi Park

Discover the emerald jewel of the Ecuadorian Andes

DURATION 5 days

STARTING FROM $ 860

DIFFICULTY Easy

TRIP OVERVIEW

The highlands and the rocky peaks around the local villages in the Western part of the Cotopaxi Province, are an undiscovered treasure that have maintained their distinctly Andean and indigenous character. Indigenous, remote, high and dry are four words that perfectly define this unique area of Ecuador. Andeanface offers you a four days Trekking Expedition with moderate hiking through this beautiful scenery.

You will find a beautiful crater lagoon, patches of cloud forest and a very defined dry highland vegetation. The people who inhabit this area are very warm-hearted local Indians who live very simple but rough lives, fighting against the harsh conditions of their environment.

The Quilotoa region has stayed untouched by the massive visits of tourists, which has kept the area and its people basically unchanged since the last centuries.

With all this gradual acclimatization, we will be ready to attempt the hike to the Rivas Refuge at 4,800m / 15748ft, to close our journey with a magnificent high altitude mountaneering experiencie.

Arrive/Depart: Quito

Group Size: Open to private groups

Pre-requisites: Good physical condition

Difficulty Levels: Moderate
EXPLAIN DIFFICULTY LEVELS

Accomodation: 3 nights at Haciendas VIEW LODGING

Activity: Trekking / Wildlife & Natural History / Cultural Exploration

Seasons: All year round

Equipment: Trekking Expeditions Gear List
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ITINERARY

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DAY
01

Drive to Insilivi - short hike in the afternoon [3.100m / 10.171 ft]

After an interesting journey along the Pan-American Highway we get to the Town of Toacazo. From here we start heading towards the western range of the Cotopaxi Province. We will pass the little settlement of Planchaloma, after driving through dramatic landscapes on a dusty road we get to Guingopana, a beautiful rocky ridge, here we will do a stop in order to observe the contrast of the Andes. In this region you will have the feeling of going back in time, people living much as they have lived for centuries, families herd sheep and llamas, and cultivate a variety of potatoes and grains in small communities perched on the windswept slopes of the mountains. Their language is Quichua, the language of the Inca Empire. We spent the night at Lullu Llama Lodge, an old colonial house that was converted into a mountain Lodge.

Activity: Driving / Sightseeing / Trekking

Accommodation: Llullu Llama Lodge

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

DAY
02

Insiliví to Chugchilán [3.200m / 10.499 ft]

After breakfast, we start our day by going down towards a tributary river of the Toachi River Canyon, that will form the main Toachi river further north with its western tributary. Later we will find ourselves on the north-eastern slope of the Quilotoa Crater Lake. In our path we might encounter the shepherds that regularly take their sheep and llamas on these interesting, winding, steep, and sometimes, dusty paths that offer us the best views of the surrounding landscape. In the early afternoon we will arrive at our second lodge, after crossing for the first time the western Toachi canyon, and have some time in the afternoon to recover from the hike and enjoy the scenery. Tonights accomodation is at El Vaquero Hostal.

Activity: 5-6 hours trekking

Accommodation: Hostal El Vaquero

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY
03

Chugchilán to Quilotoa Crater Lake

Hiking from Chugchilán to Laguna Quilotoa we will have beautiful views of the canyon of Toachi River. After crossing the canyon and finishing a steep ascent, we will reach a plateau where lies the small indigenous village of Huayama. Our climbe will continue from there on the outer northern slope of the Quilotoa Crater Lake, passing by highland grass slopes and finally mountain deserts. Once on the edge of the caldera, we will walk by the crater edge with impressive views of the lagoon inside, until we reach the village of Quilotoa. The climate and scenery changes dramatically. Soon we will be surrounded by the highland. Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater-lake 3 kilometers in diameter. Its emerald water spans two kilometers. Local legend claims it is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulphuric. Once there, we will see a 280 m / 918 ft drop down to the water. The hike down normally takes 40 minutes and one hour to climb up, if we have enough strength and time to do it. The night will be spent in a basic Indian lodge.

Activity: 4-5 hours trekking

Accommodation: Mountain Hostel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY
04

Quilotoa Crater Lake Hike [3.800m / 12,467 ft]

Hiking from Chugchilán to Laguna Quilotoa we will have beautiful views of the canyon of Toachi River. After crossing the canyon and finishing a steep ascent, we will reach a plateau where lies the small indigenous village of Huayama. Our climbe will continue from there on the outer northern slope of the Quilotoa Crater Lake, passing by highland grass fields and finally mountain deserts. Once on the edge of the caldera, we will walk by the crater edge with impressive views of the lagoon inside, until we reach the village of Quilotoa. The climate and scenery changes dramatically. Soon we will be surrounded by the highland. Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater-lake 3 kilometers in diameter. Its emerald water spans two kilometers. Local legend claims it is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulphuric. Once there, we will see a 280 m / 918 ft drop down to the water. The hike down normally takes 40 minutes and one hour to climb up, if we have enough strength and time to do it. The night will be spent in a basic Indian lodge.

Activity: 4 hours hiking / Drive to Tigua

Accommodation: Posada de Tigua

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY
05

Drive to Cotopaxi National Park 4.800m [4.800m / 15.748 ft]

We depart early in the morning from the western mountain range, and drive north east to the so-called “central mountain range” where the Cotopaxi Volcano is located. Once in the park, we will drive up to the parking lot and attempt the hike to the Rivas Refuge at 4800m above sea level, located at the second-highest peak of the Andes of Ecuador, and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Great first hiking experience at extreme high altitude, to finish our trekking days. In the late afternoon we will be driving back to Quito.

Activity: Hiking / Drive to Quito

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

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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.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Moderate hiking in a non tourist area
  • Experiencing the rural life of a unique and isolated region
  • Staying in basic community lodges, thus contributing to their economy
  • Visiting the Indian markets of the region
  • Highest altitude 3.800 m / 2,464 ft

MAP

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COMPLIMENTARY
EXTENSIONS

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.

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DATES & PRICING

Scheduled Dates

We run this trip only on private basis for groups.

Please send us an e-mail to book this
Quilotoa Trek & Cotopaxi Park Expedition.

2021 Prices

2 pax - USD 860 per person
3 pax - USD 760 per person
4+ pax - USD 670 per person

Trip Cost Includes

  • All transport by private vehicles during the program
  • All the food once out of Quito
  • Accommodation during the tour
  • 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
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WHY TAKE THIS TRIP WITH US?

You will discover one of the most picturesque areas of the Ecuadorian Andes and its unique people and culture. 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.

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