Cotopaxi Avenue of Volcanos Ecuador Trek | Adventurous Ewe

Cotopaxi and the Avenue of Volcanos (12 days)



• Experience every mountaineer´s paradise, The Andes of Ecuador
• Ecuador is known for its many high peaks, easy accessibility, unique cultural heritage and diverse cuisine
• Climb to the summit of Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanos in the world at 5,897 metres
• This trek includes a careful programme of acclimatisation and time for skills training to help your mountaineering expertise
• No camping – stay in haciendas with great food in-between the climbs, as well as lodges and mountain huts

Exciting news, in October 2017 The Ministry for Tourism in Ecuador announced that the summit of Cotopaxi at 5,897metres, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and Ecuador’s most iconic volcano, was declared safe and reopened again for climbing since August 2015.

Cotopaxi volcano is also considered as the most beautiful and symmetrically perfect mountain cone in the world. The name Cotopaxi is of Quichua origin (Inca language still being spoken among the Indians of Andes) and means “the neck of the moon”. This expedition tackles the best volcanos in Ecuador famously renowned as the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’ with a careful program to assist acclimatisation and ensure you the best chance of success.

Packed with activity and variety, this expedition enables you to experience the landscape, culture and people of the smallest Andean country in less than two weeks from the UK. Ecuador is now one of the easiest of South American countries in which to travel. Its capital city, Quito, has a beautifully preserved colonial character and, at an altitude of 2,850m, it enjoys an invigorating spring-like climate. During this expedition, you will have time to explore Quito and its enchanting native Ecuadorian markets, as well as the famous hot springs at Baños.

The use of crampons and ice axe is required on Cotopaxi ascents although this trip is designed as a non-technical climb. Some winter walking experience is recommended before joining this trip, but it’s not essential. You should however be an experienced summer walker and ideally have been to over 4,000 metres in altitude on a previous trek. Any concerns, please contact the Adventurous Ewe team.


  • Adventurous Ewe Mountain Leader for groups of 8 or more trekkers
  • IMFGA Qualified Local Mountain Guides
  • All ground crew per your itinerary
  • Hotel and other accommodation on as detailed per your itinerary
  • Equipment training sessions
  • Road transfers within Ecuador per your itinerary
  • Three meals per unless stated in your itinerary
  • Drinking water during your trek
  • Medical safety equipment and supplies
  • All logistical and safety management whilst in Ecuador
  • International Passenger Protection

Not Included:

  • Flights, airport taxes and any fuel surcharges
  • Personal insurance, visas if applicable,departure tax and inoculations
  • Visa – please refer to
  • Vaccination/s. Please refer to:
  • Clothing and equipment on your Kit List
  • Travel to and from UK airport
  • Transfers to and from the in-country airport if flights NOT booked within main group arrival/departure timing
  • Climbing equipment hire ie. crampons, ice axe, harness & karabiner, helmet
  • Drinks and hotel or guest house meals, unless specified
  • Personal snacks and water flavouring
  • Personal medical supplies and personal use of communication equipment if supplied
  • Excess baggage
  • Tips for local guides and crew
  • Costs associated with an expedition finishing early
  • Costs associated with you leaving an expedition early
  • Costs associated with extending a trip due to severe weather or other circumstances
  • Personal spending money
  • Any other items not listed in your Trip Notes
Day 1
Fly UK to Quito Depart the UK on your flight to the capital city of Ecuador, Quito (flights at your own expense). Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel (providing your flight arrives within the designated group arrival time).  Sitting high in the Andean foothills at an elevation of 2,850 metres above sea level, Quito is the second highest official capital city in the world, after La Paz, and the one which is closest to the equator. Constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, it’s known for its well-preserved colonial centre, rich with 16th and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish and indigenous styles. Accommodation: hotel (twin share basis) Meals included: no meals included
Day 2
Quito City Tour and Equipment Hire Acclimatisation Quito Visit the old city of Quito, the best conserved colonial town in South America. The fabulously rich decorated churches, museums, squares and the numerous colonial buildings come under the banner of ‘Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.  Lunch in town (not included). Later in the afternoon you’ll visit the hire shop to pick up your equipment for your trek plus it’s a great chance to purchase or hire any kit you may have forgotten. Please refer to the kit list for more information. Accommodation:hotel (twin share basis) Meals included:breakfast only
Day 3
Ruins of Cochasqui Trek to the crater lakes of Mojanda After breakfast you will be transferred to the pre-Columbian pyramids of Cochasqui. From here you will hike up to the impressive crater lakes of Mojanda with spectacular views above the valley of volcanoes. Mojanda is an inactive stratovolcano of the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes. A summit caldera, which was produced by an explosive Plinian Eruption that marked the end of Mojanda activity 200,000 years ago, is occupied by three picturesque crater lakes: Karikucha (the largest), Yanakucha, and Warmikucha. Overnight Casa Aida. Accommodation:Casa Aida (twin share basis) Meals included:breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4
Ascent of Imbabura at 4,630m As part of a careful program of acclimatisation, you’ll trek across the Cotacachi-Cayapas highlands, one of the most diverse and spectacular of Ecuador’s bio-reserves. This includes the ascent of the smaller volcano Imbabura at 4,630m. Once on the summit you will be rewarded with spectacular views to Cayambe, Antizana and Cotopaxi. On your descent you will visit the centre of Ibarra, a colonial town of 100,000 inhabitants and the capital of Imbabura province. You will then be transferred to Peguche near Otavalo. Overnight Casa Sol. Accommodation:Casa Sol (twin share basis) Meals included: breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 5
Otavalo Market to Refuge Cayambe In the morning you will visit the colourful Indian market, Otavalo. Otavalo is the most famous Indian market in Ecuador and much of South America selling local items such as ponchos, exquisite sweaters, wool rugs, leatherwork, wooden goods, and Indian jewellery. The Otavalo Indians, for whom the town is named, cling proudly to their ancient culture and mode of dress. After lunch, you will be transferred near to the Refuge Oleas Berge the vehicle will drive as far up the rough trail as possible. From here you will trek the final 1 hour to the Refuge Oleas Berge. Accommodation: mountain hut Meals included: breakfast and dinner
Day 6
Acclimatisation and Skills Training on Cayambe Today hosts a skills workshop on the stunning Cayambe glacier plus another opportunity to acclimatise. You will meet your local mountain guides and walk up to the glacier at about 4,800m to start a practical snow and ice technique course. This will include ice axe and crampon work, progression in snowfields, rope handling, belays in snow, self-arrest, study of the different snow types, different progression techniques on 40 to 80 º slopes, natural and artificial ice anchors and knots. You will then descend back to the refuge at the end of the afternoon. Accommodation: mountain hut Meals included: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7
Ascent of Cayambe – Thermal Springs of Papallacta You will leave the refuge around midnight to attempt your summit climb of Cayambe (5,790m). After an hour you will reach the glacier, then pass the ‘Picos de Jarrin’, experience the sulphur smelling crevasses and climb to the summit. This is a reasonably technical summit, but you should be topping out for sunrise and back to the refuge by mid-morning. Your vehicle will then transfer you to the Thermal Springs of Papallacta. A rustic village, Papallacta is renowned for its hot springs which are amongst the best in Ecuador. These thermal baths are located on the banks of the Papallacta River. Here you will have the evening to relax and purchase your own dinner. Accommodation: mountain hut Meals included: breakfast only
Day 8
Thermal Springs of Papallacta to Cotopaxi National Park After breakfast, you will be transferred from Termas to Cotopaxi National Park. The park is a large, protected forested area in Ecuador spanning parts of Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Napo provinces. The park’s boundaries encompass 205 square miles (330 sq. km). Keep an eye out for the condors, hawks and wild horses that inhabit this area. Overnight Tambopaxi. Accommodation: Tambopaxi (twin share basis) Meals included: breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 9
Cotopaxi National Park This is primarily a rest day. Following a late breakfast, you will have the option of a short hike in the Cotopaxi National Park and prepare for your Cotopaxi summit climb. Overnight Tambopaxi. Accommodation: Tambopaxi (twin share basis) Meals included: breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 10
Refuge Jose Rivas, Cotopaxi You will meet with your local mountain guides once again and your vehicle will drive up and drop you at an altitude of 4,600m, just 200m below the Cotopaxi refuge. With food and equipment this will take about 45 minutes up a sandy path to the Refuge. After lunch you will have time for a short walk before getting your heads down and relaxing before your summit climb. Overnight Jose Rivas Refuge. Accommodation: Jose Rivas Refuge Meals included: breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 11
Ascend Cotopaxi – Quito After a midnight alarm call you will aim to leave the refuge at 1am to climb the world’s highest active volcano. This ascent is almost totally on glacial terrain with your crampons but without any major difficulties. The trekker:guide ratio is 2:1. It will take around 6 – 7 hours to summit. On achieving your goal, you will return to the refuge and drive back to Quite (approx. 2-hour transfer). A celebration meal will be held that night. Overnight in Vieja Cuba. Accommodation: Vieja Cuba Meals included: breakfast & lunch
Day 12
Day 12: Return flight from Quito to UK Return international flight and transfer to the airport to take your flight home. Meals included: no meals included

Essential Information

Weather & Safety
In common with other tropical countries, Ecuador does not experience the four seasons known in other parts of the world. Instead there are wet and dry seasons. The best months for climbing are from October through to April. During summer (June, July & August), the winds tend to be very strong which impacts on climbing and your expedition experience. However, conditions can change very quickly in the mountains. What can start out as a good day can soon become very poor.  It is very important to be well equipped and prepared for all conditions. Trekking in the mountains can be precarious and although we take important steps to manage and minimise this risk, we can never eradicate it altogether. Your Mountain Guide reserves the right to change the itinerary at any time should the conditions require it. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best alternative arrangements possible that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Mountaineering can be dangerous and although we take important steps to manage and minimise this risk we can never eradicate it altogether. The main danger is injury from avalanche or falling then sliding down a snow slope.
Although the guides can assist you in becoming accustomed to the use of ice axes and crampons the trip is not a winter skills training course. If you have not used ice axes or crampons before it is essential that you feel confident in picking up the necessary skills.

Adventurous Ewe prioritises the safety of all of their trekkers and staff, and as such have developed a thorough safety management system. This encompasses comprehensive risk assessments and procedures together with audits of all aspects of your challenge from vehicles to accommodation to the trek activities. Your health and safety is our top priority.

In terms of your Cotopaxi traverse, there are some important points outlined below:

  • This expedition involves going to very high altitude. During the course of your trip you will be spending at least one night above 4,000 metres and trekking above 5,000 metres. Before joining this expedition, you should read visit this website to gain a better understanding of acclimatisation and altitude sickness: Unless you have previous experience of trekking above 4,000 metres you should consult Adventurous Ewe before embarking on this expedition. On this trip we carry a portable altitude chamber (PAC-bag) and/or bottled oxygen for use in emergencies.
  • You will be trekking along glaciers and near crevasses. Training and equipment will be provided. This includes the use of a safety harness, ropes, crampons, ice-axes, carabiner and a helmet (all of which will be supplied)
  • All our guides are qualified and first aid trained and carry fully equipped medical kits for serious medical emergencies
  • For your Cotopaxi and Cayambe climbs there will be a trekker:guide ratio of 2:1
  • For the all other mountain ascents there will be a trekker:guide ratio of 6:1
  • You will be trekking in a mountainous environment where temperatures can drop significantly. You should be prepared for all weather conditions with adequate clothing.

There are no compulsory vaccinations for Ecuador but we recommend you consult your GP before departure. A good level of fitness is required for this trip.

You will be staying in a mixture of hotels, lodges and mountain huts during your expedition. Whilst on the trek you will be staying in comfortable mountain huts in dormitory style rooms of which you will need to provide your own sleeping bags. The huts have basic toilet facilities and running water however shower facilities are not provided. These huts range in size but are all staffed and catered.

Passport & Visa
All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. Airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than 6 months validity.

We recommend that you check with the relevant embassy for the most up to date information regarding visas. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and obtain your own visa, if one is necessary. Adventurous Ewe is not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise. Please visit the UK Foreign & Commonwealth office website, or your respective nationality governing website, for the latest travel information on Ecuador at:

It is a condition of this trip that you are insured against medical and personal accident. Adventurous Ewe require documentary evidence of your insurance prior to departure. We also recommend that you enrol with Global Rescue prior to embarking on your trip (optional). Global Rescue is the world’s premier provider of medical & security advisory and evacuation services. 

Trekking Experience and level of difficulty
To complete this challenge comfortably, it is preferable that you have previous trekking experience in varied and irregular terrain carrying a 35-litre day-pack. Whilst climbing Cotopaxi is not considered difficult, it is considered a technical climb due to the use of technical climbing gear for the ascent, such as: crampons, ice axe and crevasse rescue gear. Previous experience of using crampons, ice-axes, harnesses and ropes is not required. Full instruction, support and practice sessions will be provided by your guides. During the trek you will be required to carry your own kit and equipment including crampons, ice-axes, harness, packed lunches & snacks, drinking water, wet weather gear, additional warm layers and personal items such medication.

Your Mountain Guide will hold the IFMGA carnet, the highest qualification in the world for leading people in the mountains, be it skiing, climbing or mountaineering. In short, Mountain Guides are recognised internationally as mountaineering experts and your safety is paramount. All our Mountain Guides are carefully selected to ensure you have the best experience on your traverse and summit climb with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure.

How to book your challenge
The easiest way to book your trip is online via the Adventurous Ewe website at simply click Dates and Availability. You will need to pay a non-refundable deposit of £295.00 at the time of booking. It is possible to reserve a place on this trek by email to, however you will need to pay your deposit of £295.00 to confirm your place on this trek together with completing a booking form. The full balance is required to be paid no less than 4 weeks prior to departure.

Difficulty Rating
This challenge has a rating of Extreme!
£ 2150.00

Responsible Tourism

Now more than ever our commitment to maintain our support of one of the leading global climate change charities, Cool Earth and the local protection and sustainability work of the Snowdonia Society, is of utmost importance.

To do this we’ll continue to contribute a % from every booking to Cool Earth and maintain our partnership with the Snowdonia Society. It’s time that we all live in a more responsible world.

This means that not only will you have a fabewelous experience when you travel with Adventurous Ewe, you can do so whilst taking pride in knowing that you are helping support both of these fantastic causes.

We have also invested in Water-to-Go bottles so you, our valued flock, will be healthier whilst also helping to make the World a better place! Together we can help reduce our consumption of single use plastics.

When joining us for a long haul overseas trip you’ll receive a free Adventurous Ewe Water-to-Go bottle. This is our way of saying thank-ewe and also making a difference to the consumption of single use plastics in developing countries.

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