5 days from £1795pp plus international flights.
This five-day trek is an unmissable opportunity to spend time amongst the might Andean peaks, traversing grassland, arid plains, walking through forests and valleys, past cascading waterfalls and happening on ancient Inca sites.
It's a rich mix, but it's not too arduous a route (though bear in mind that it is at altitude) and needs no previous climbing experience. During the trek you'll reach two lofty summits for fabulous views of the surrounding mountains, including the imposing, snow-covered Cotopaxi. Your guide, an expert naturalist and experienced climber, leads you along the varied tracks and trails, pointing out sights of interest and giving you time to enjoy the views and take those all-important photographs.
You won't miss out on creature comforts. You'll be staying in lovely mountain lodges and homely haciendas, where friendly service, cosy accommodation and delicious food combine, making you feel right at home.
We think this is a lovely addition to any holiday to Ecuador, giving you access fabulous Andean scenery as you enjoy the benefits of healthy exercise and plenty of mountain-fresh air and rewarding you with a great sense of satisfaction on the successful conclusion of the hike.
After a hearty breakfast at the lodge you head out to Cotopaxi National Park, an area of great natural beauty. The hike begins at the Pita River, fed by glacial meltwater from Mount Cotopaxi, and your route takes you into the national park and towards the archeaological site of Pucara de Salitre. On the way you should see a variety of birds, and, if lucky, some of the resident wild horses, deer and llamas. The scenery is stunning, and the views of the volcanoes are beautiful. The hike includes a stop for a picnic lunch, and concludes at Limpiopungo Lake, where a vehicle is waiting to take you back to the lodge. Total hiking time is around five hours, largely through grassland trails. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today your route continues along the course of the Pita River. You'll soon enter the flatlands on eastern flank of Cotopaxi, Ecuador's highest mountain, with views of the foothills of Mount Sincholagua as well as the mighty Cotopaxi. You'll travel through varied terrain including grassland and stony plains. Wild horses are often seen in this area and you may spot Andean condors soaring overhead. Later you'll arrive at Chilcabamba Lodge, your home for the night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you'll have your second peak climb of the trek. Your target is the lowest peak of Ruminahui, regarded as the sentry to Cotopaxi National Park. The climb is not arduous and travels past several waterfalls before reaching the stone plains of the mountain at about 4,600 metres above sea level. As you ascend you'll have views of the eastern side of Sincholagua and of Cotopaxi. Descending from the peak you'll pass the Inca site of Machay and walk through 'the silent valley' before arriving at the scenic Limpiopungo lagoon. Hiking time is about 6 hours and tonight you'll be staying at the lovely Hosteria Tambopaxi. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Guide price from (pp sharing): £1795 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2020 guide prices pp sharing (excluding international flights): from £1795
4 nights twin-share accommodation in comfortable mountain lodges and haciendas; meals as specified; services of a bilingual naturalist and climbing guide; transportation and support vehicle throughout; first aid kit
International flights and taxes; visas; travel insurance; meals not shown; drinks; park entry fees; climbing gear (can be rented locally); tips; items of a personal nature
This itinerary starts and ends in Quito. You'll need accommodation in Quito before and after the holiday, which we are happy to book for you. International return flights from the UK will cost from around £900 per person, depending on availability and season.
Departure dates: This is a tailor-made holiday and can begin on the day you choose.
How this holiday helps
This is the first ever good quality lodge to lodge trek in Ecuador. For you the joy of the trip is the ability to trek through some stunning landscapes, up to high passes, through cloudforest, across rivers and paramo (high altitude grasslands) and even up to glaciers.
On another level this trip serves to highlight the need to protect natural resources, especially water sources, as the glacial meltwaters of Cotopaxi National Park feed the water needs of Quito. Also, the lodges employ local people, and some experiences of rural local life (eg milking cows or making cheese) are on offer as well as horse riding.
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Find the best time to visit Ecuador
Time: GMT -5 hours
Flight time: There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.
Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.
Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.