Arrive in Quito, transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Acclimatisation day in Quito (city tour)
A short tour of Quito, taking in its various splendid churches, monasteries, monuments, the Parliament Building and the Panecillo hill, is followed by a visit to the Equatorial Monument located 45 minutes north of Quito. Recently renovated, the ‘Middle of the World Village’ provides a variety of attractions, including a fascinating museum displaying artifacts from all Ecuador’s ethnic groups as well as a visual history of their way of life. Overnight at centrally located hotel.
Day 3: Pasochoa Volcano (4,200m – 13,780 ft)
Pasochoa is an extinct volcano located about 1 hour drive south of Quito. The current mountain form is a collapsed crater with a semicircular shape.
Lava and ash increased the fertility of the ground in the Pasochoa region, encouraging the growth of a vibrant forest ecosystem. The mountain has a wonderful variety of wildlife, including pumas, foxes, skunks, a very diverse collection of birds, and a wonderful collection of plants. The trek up to the summit and back takes approximately 6-7 hours. Drive to La Estacion Lodge (3,200m) for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: El Corazon Base Hike (4,400m – 14,435 ft)
El Corazon is an old eroded volcano located further south of Pasochoa. It is named after its two gullies that resemble the shape of a heart (“corazon” in Spanish). After breakfast you will start a strenuous trek up the slopes of this volcano, reaching its summit at 4,400m. After a picnic lunch, you will return to La Estacion Lodge or similar for dinner and overnight. (7-9 hours trek)
Day 5: Ilinizas – La Virgen Base Camp (4,650m – 15,255 ft)
Start early in the morning after breakfast and drive south towards Los Ilinizas. Once we reach the nearest town to the mountain, el Chaupi, we begin our 3 hour trek in order to reach La Virgen Base camp, located at the base of Los Ilinizas (Iliniza Sur and Iliniza Norte). We set up the camp for overnight.
Day 6: Iliniza Norte (5,126m – 16,817 ft) / Cotopaxi National Park
Early morning trek towards Iliniza Norte´s summit, reaching a ridge where there is a light possibility of snow in which case happens crampons and ice axes will be used. After the ridge (5,100m), you walk along the mountain to its end and then summit via a rocky gully. After descending, we drive towards Cotopaxi National Park. (trek 7 – 9 hour approx..). Overnight at Tambopaxi Mountain Lodge. (3,720m – 12,204 ft).
Day 7: Rest day – Cotopaxi National Park / Inca ruins – El Manantial
Today you will have a free day with an option of a gentle hike towards a pre-Incan archeological and a walk around El Manantial (spring water). Overnight at Tambopaxi lodge (3,720m– 12,204 ft).
Day 8: Cotopaxi – Jose Ribas Refugio (4,800m – 15,748ft)
This morning we drive for approximately 30 – 40 minutes to the Cotopaxi refuge car parking area at 4,550m, then you will trek your way up to the Jose Ribas refuge at 4,800m, involving approx. 1 hour of hard walking. You will have lunch by midday, followed by your ice climbing practice in the afternoon. Dinner will be served early in the evening so you can go to bed early in order to acclimatise and stay warm. Approx 2 hour trek. Overnight at Jose Ribas refuge
Day 9: Summit Cotopaxi (5,897m – 19,347 ft)
You will leave the refuge at around midnight and begin your climb towards Cotopaxi´s summit, which will take about 8 hours of hard climb by steep glaciers. This is a tough semi-technical climb and the weather can be extremely cold. You will be using crampons and ice axes, and roped up to professional mountain guides. It is tough to reach the summit but absolutely rewarding and with breathtaking views from the summit. If the weather is clear you will be able to see will the
fantastic 800m/2,625 ft. wide crater and most or even all the snow covered peaks in
Ecuador. After few minutes at the summit enjoying such accomplishment, you will the start your descent (3 – 4 hours) back to the refuge in time for lunch. Then down to the parking area and drive back to Quito where you will enjoy a nice hot shower at your local hotel and celebration at dinner.
Day 10: Transfer to the airport for your international flight.
Equipment: all the equipment such as crampons, helmets, harnesses, boots, head flashlight and ice axes can be rented from the local supplier.
Clothing: it is recommended to bring your own clothing such as water resistant pants, jackets, thermal underwear, since sometimes it is hard to find the appropriate size for rent.
Cotopaxi is blessed with the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes. Climbs can be attempted year round. June and July are the driest months, but extremely high winds blowing for days on end are not uncommon. December and January are almost as dry and much less windy.
The itinerary may change due to unusual weather patterns, natural events, the strength of the group and so on. We will do our very best to keep to the set itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances your expedition leader will have the final word.