Volcanos in Ecuador

Interesting roundtrip through the Ecuadorian volcano landscape

Come and visit Ecuador with us! A Land full of contradictions: wide sandy beaches, impermeable jungle areas and over 6.000m high volcano mountains. All this unified in such a small country less than former western Germany. Our journey leads us especially through the beautiful Andean region.

The Tour

After arriving in Quito, we will spend the next two days in this capital, especially to visit the colonial old city. At a height of 2.800 meters, you have to struggle to get some air at the beginning, but soon you will get used to it and be rewarded with one of the most beautiful cities of South America.

From here on we will carry on to the street of volcanoes towards the deepest north of the country in the lively Andean city San Gabriel. Directly next to it we find the ecological station Guandera, right within the dense mountain jungle. From here on we will start a through hiking tours into the Paramos, where with a bit of luck we will even see pumas or rarely existing spectacled bears.

Afterward we head off to Otavalo, famous for its Indigena market, every Saturday, where you can buy things for every taste. Otavalo is also a starting point for our next bigger journeys up to the volcanoes Fuya Fuya (4.293 m) und Imbabura (4.682 m).

In between we will visit the white city Ibarra.

Now we should be acclimatized enough to conquer the most beautiful volcano ever, namely Cotopaxi. Its shining white top can already be seen from Quito, from where on we will start our tour. The accommodation is located in the Refugio Jose Ribas at a height of 4800 meters. Next we will start the fight to the summit on the next day at 1 o’clock in the morning.

A real 6000er is our following destination, namely the highlight of our tour, the 6.286 meter high Chimborazo, the highest mountain of Ecuador. Starting point will be the nice Andean village Riobamba where we will say overnight in a cosy Wymper hut, almost 5.000 high up. For the raise to the top still 1.300 meters are missing, so the physical condition should be sufficient. Besides the Chimborazo as well as the Cotopaxi demand a high amount of hiking skills/knowledge, especially in the ice areas. Over Quito we will finally head back home.

Tour-Highlights:

 

  • Volcanoes
  • Reservates
  • Northern Ecuador
  • Guandera
  • Cuicocha Lagoon
  • Volcano Imbabura
  • Fuya Fuya
  • Pichincha
  • Cotopaxi
  • Chimborazo

 

Dates and prices

 

  • Length: 22 Days
  • 6. to 27. January 2009 Price: 1.395 Euro
  • 4. to 25. January 2010 Price: 1.445 Euro
  • Further dates >> Request...

 

We offer

 

  • Transfer from and to the airport
  • Transfers with bus and taxis within the country
  • All accommodations in simple, traditional hotels and huts guides at site
  • Entrances to the national parks
  • Organized mountain tours to Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, including guide, food and beverages and rented equipment
  • Guided hiking tours

 

Not included

 

  • Flight
  • Travel accident and health insurance
  • Travel luggage and travel cancellation insurance
  • Not mentioned food and beverages
  • Tips
  • Personal spending

 

Participants

 

  • Minimal: 2
  • Maximal: 10

 

Detailed tour description

1. Day: Arrival in Quito

On the day of arrival we will just do a short visit of the city, concluding the day with some information about the country and the following tour while enjoying a nice dinner in a traditional restaurant.

2. Day: Panecillo

Already on the second day we will climb up our first mountain at a height of 3.000 meters, namely the Panecillo (small bread roll) with its unshaped aluminum statue of the Virgen de Quito. The nicest fact of this mountain, however is that the complete tour can be made by taxi. Also our first market can be visited, of course while enjoying beautiful vies above the city. Afterwards we will have a nice lunch. The afternoon we will completely spend in the old city. Here we can see a bunch of interesting sites. Therefore we cross the Parque Alameda, Quito’s most ancient park, before having dinner.

3. Day: Ride to San Gabriel

Now our route leads us past the deepest north of Ecuador into the lively Andean village San Gabriel. This is a rather interesting journey as there is a lot to see. We stay overnight in the un-touristy Andean village and visit the Plaza de Armas and some other sites in the afternoon.

4. Day: Climbing up Guandera

Next we will visit the ecological station Guandera, right within the dense mountain jungle. By taxi we will approach Mariscal Sucre, a small Village right in between the highlands of the eastern cordillera. Here we will have lunch and in the afternoon a visit of the station, before dining in a traditional restaurant.

5. Day: Loma Corazon

Today we will start our first tour into the Paramos, where with a bit of luck even Pumas or the rarely spectacled bears can be seen in the wild nature. Our first summit is called Loma Corazon and offers with its 3.800 meter the perfect acclimatization tour. In this way we will spend the complete day, observing earthy forests, cactuses and random plants. The wide view above the Ecuadorian Panorama is just wonderful! The latest for having dinner we will return to the station, where we will also stay overnight. Before we will of course participate in the interesting hut life!

6. Day: Mirador

The next tour will be a bit longer, as we climb up several small Paramo summits and the 4.000meter high Mirador. Nowadays there are good trails within the park region, but unfortunately also human signs like plastic bottles or other waste. But the surrounding landscape is just marvelous, embossed by dense mountain forests, wide steppe regions and a glorious waterfall. Of course we hope to see a puma or spectacled bear, but unfortunately the chance is small. If we head up early we will have better chances. This anyway makes sense, as the tour is rather long. The views are even wider as the day before, even Columbia appears in the wide view. Also today we will return to Guandera to have dinner. The evening is spent with workers and interns, a good chance to make some intercultural exchanges and experiences.

7. Day: Round tour

Today we will do another short tour to another Paramo mountain. Today, especially the wide deep views impress. Mariscal Sucre can be recognized from far away due to its red top. Also the Valley of San Gabriel can be seen from here. After the tour we will have a look at the projects of Guandera, for instance the Piscinas, the weather station and the potato fields. The station Guandera belongs to the environmental organization Jatun Sacha which is located in Quito. Next to this one there are 2 other stations, namely Jatun Sacha in the Oriente near Tena and Bilsa in the cloud forest, near to the beach. We will spend another night in the hut, while having dinner and playing cards before going to bed.

8. Day: Ride to Otavalo

Today we change place to Otavalo, famous for its Indigena market every Saturday, where they offer everything you can think of.

Besides we climb down from Guadera to Marical Sucre to take a taxi to San Gabriel. From here we carry on to Otavalo, where we will check into our hotel. At night we will have dinner in another restaurant, where we sometimes we can enjoy street musicians playing their traditional music.

9. Day: Laguna Cuicocha, Market

The most tourists visit Otavalo because of the lively Indigene market, the most important within the entire continent. All possible souvenirs can be snatched here, as well as stones, sculptures, books, cards and a bunch of other interesting things. Besides there is of course a comprehensive offer of culinary specialties,

even living animals can be bought here, But the most interesting offers are for sure the various weaving articles. Ponchos, trousers sweatshirts… here you will find things for every taste. Here you can practice your bargain skills and meanwhile get hold of nice souvenirs. In the afternoon we will head for the centre of Otavalo. To conclude we will have dinner in a local restaurant listening to a traditional life band.

Now we will head for the hinterlands, where we will see one of the most unique nature miracles of the entire country: the crater lagoon Cuicocha. This means guinea pig lake, a 200 meter deep intensive coloured crater lagoon. In the middle appear two tiny islands, the Isla Theodoro Wolf and the Isla Yerovi. The hike is not really short, but very easy manageable. From the pick nick zone we can surround the whole lake, on completely arranged routes. The region is part of the national park Reserva Ecologica Cotocachi y Cayapas, which implements 200.000 ha. Rabbits and wolfs can be observed here, even pumas shall exist here, but these are rarely seen. Besides we can book organized boat trips, including an accommodation in a simple restaurant where you can buy fresh trout. This magnificent roundtrip in the nature reserve can be organized from Otavalo on. With several small ups and down this deep blue lagoon can be circuited very well, including fantastic deep views into the glories blue lake. Above, there are not only breathtaking views, but also an enormous volcano just in front of us. The lapsed Cotocachi is one of the giants of Ecuador (4939m). An exciting trail leads us directly over the lake in between typical highland vegetations and marvelous steep cliffs.

10. Day: Fuya Fuya

Otavalo is our starting point for our first big hiking tour up to the volcano Fuya (4.293 m). Therefore we take a taxi to Otavalo toward the lagoon Mojanda, a deep blue crater lake, an interesting starting point for several hikes. The majority of the ascend leads us through easy trails. At the stony summit grout the way gets more complicated and now and then we have to use our hands to carry on. After the ascend to the summit including a fantastic view, we will circuit a part of the lake, the complete lagoon would be too much for today. Here, especially the black rock formations of the Jana Urcku grab our attention. At one par of the lagoon a taxi will pick us up and take us back to Otavalo.

11. Day: La Esperanza with a hike through the fields

Today we will leave Otavalo towards Ibarra and eventually including a brief visit of the white city. The name is due to the time when the “white” Spanish established the first Christian colony between Quito and Columbia in 1606. Interestingly are especially the ethnical variety and the locomotive museum at the train station. Besides we will visit 2 tree covered places in the centre of the city. Ancient transport-coaches influence the image of this city, for additional charge an organized tour can be booked. Unfortunately Ibarra has been almost entirely destroyed due to an earth quake in 1868, so that there are not a lot of ancient streets left. Our accommodation for tonight will be in the calmer small mountain village called La Esperanza. The idyllic Andean village can be reached by bus and has the interesting name hope. Numerous hiking can be started from here on. We hike a bit further over quite flat trails right though flourishing fields around La Esperanza.

12. Day: Imbabura

Without a doubt today’s tour is the most interesting one, namely the 4682 meter high volcano Imbabura.

Taita Imbabura is another name of this mountain, namely father, as together with the Cotocachi it builds a god couple, admired since ancient centuies. Those two offer an interesting tour, including terrific views on the free standing volcano mountains. Glaciers or firns cannot be seen here. There is no risk that the volcano will break out, as it is erupted a long time ago.

Early in the morning we will head off toward Zuleta and shortly before reaching the bridge we will carry on to a trail on the right hand side. A part of this route also can be made by taxi. A small parking place or at least a rebound place forms the end of the drivable route; the trail gets significantly narrower, so we have to carry on by foot. A little bit later the trail carries on over a few serpentines above a grout at the border of the crater. Few rock passages can be avoided. After an exhausting steep part, we have finally managed it, easy rock stairs lead to the pre summit. Here you will think at first that the tour already is over, due to the fog the main summit on the other side o the crater cannot be seen, but the traces lead us into the right direction. Now it goes significantly downwards, through rocky, unstable ground. Soon we will reach the rocky last part up to the summit. Again it seems to be harder than it is, but soon we have arrived at our destination, the main summit. Interesting are especially the deep vies on to the 100.000 inhabited city Ibarra.

The descend is the same way as the ascend, so it should be easy to manage. In order not to come in time pressure we will stay over night in La Esperanza, where we will also have dinner to conclude the day.

13. Day: Drive to Quito

After the hiking tours, today there is another bus drive on the program. First we will go from La Esperanza back to Ibarra, to charter a Bus to Quito from here ob. From the terminal we will drive straight into the hotel to get rid of our luggage. Afterwards, a bit later than usual we will have lunch. The afternoon you can use according to your personal preference, the evening as well. As tomorrow there is not such a hard program, tonight there is the perfect possibility to enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Quito. Especially the district Mariscal offers a bunch of interesting options for a long night out.

14. Day: Preparation for Cotopaxi

Today you can sleep long, afterward we will meet up in our Ecuadorian partner agency, to get prepared for the ascend to the Cotopaxi. Here we gamble the equipment for this hiking tour; you can try out shoes and crampons. Also we will get to know our mountain guide. Afterward we will have another look at Quito, this time we will visit the northern part of the city, offering several shopping possibilities. Especially interesting is the Avenida Amazonas. On the broad promenade there are a lot of tourists and wealthy Ecuadorians. But also the negative parts won’t stay undiscovered. Begging children, old or ill locals try to get a bit of money here. Also this is South America.

We will head off to one of the numerous restaurants as tomorrow the meals will be quite sparely. Now it is a good idea to go to bed early, as tomorrow an exhausting day is waiting for us.

15. Day: Pichincha

If everything worked out well, another mountain trip can be started today. According to your preference we could either do Pichincha (but there is a small risk of break-out) or the Corazon above the Machachi.

A way leads us through the Paramo towards the mountain. Over the northern grout we climb up towards the enormous summit, until reaching the north-western border of the mountain. On the right hand side, there is another one, a smaller mountain, but also above the 4.500 meter barrier. This summit can also be reached within half an hour. But now back to the Corazon. Over dark lava stones we will carry on climbing up. The rocky stairs are easily managed and overcome; only now and then you have to use your hands for climbing. Shortly later we are already on the big summit. Especially the perfectly formed icy volcano Cotopaxi is grabbing our attention. Even closer there is the double summit Illinizas, even this one is crossing the 5.000m barrier. In the north, the equally gigantic Pichincha appears above Quito.

16. Day: Refugio Jorge Ribas

Now it’s time to head for the harmonious ice volcano. With the jeep and an indigene guide we will drive towards Machachi, from where on we will turn into the Cotopaxi national park. After having paid the fee, we drive though the earthy landscapes with its wonderful variety of different plants. In narrow serpentines the route goes towards the high up located hut, until reaching a small parking place at a height of 4.400 meters. Fortunately, there are only 350 meters missing, until reaching the hut, the Refugio Jose Ribas at a height of 4800m. Quickly we will reach the hut. The rest of the day you can either use for further short expeditions or with relaxing and taking a rest.

17. Day: Summit of Cotopaxi

At 12 o clock the alarm rings and after having breakfast we should head off to the summit at 1 o clock, the latest. This is necessary as the hot equator sun melts the icy bridges and this makes it hard for us to cross the gaps.

The Cotopaxi combats with the Ojos de Salado concerning the title of the highest volcano on earth, but fore sure the Cotopaxi is the more active one of both. A few years ago a few parts of the icy top melted due to a break-out and therefore an enormous mud avalanche destroyed big parts of the village Latacunga, including a few deaths.

Nowadays the Cotopaxi comprises 5895 meters, before 6.005 meters. Who sees its symmetric icy top for the first time, will agree that it seems like the ideal of a snow covers volcano ever. From the capital Quito it can be seen, if the sight conditions are good enough.

We climb up the ice fields with the help of our front lights; firstly we steadily have to climb upwards. Up higher the area gets steeper, up to 45° ice flank have to be overcome. About 8 hours later we reach the border of the crater, when the weather is good, we will see whole Ecuador lying beneath us. But we have to climb further down to see the white shining firn areas and its illustrious beauty. From the hut we take a vehicle to Quito. The rest of the day we will do nothing more than relax.

18. Day: Day-off

Today is a buffer day, in the case there should be any problems on the Cotopaxi. If not we can use this day to recover from the endeavors of the last days.

19. Day: Refugio Whymper

Our next destination is a real 6000er. As the highlight of our tour we will conquer the 6.268 meters high Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. Our accommodation is located at a height of 5.000meters in a Whymper hut. For the race to the top there are therefore almost 1.300 meters left, so the physical fitness shouldn’t be lacking. The hut can be approached completely with the vehicle, by now we should be quite well acclimatized. Nevertheless a short hike is recommended, so that we can already explore a part of the ascend. Again we will have dinner early in order to go to bed early as the alarm clock already rings at midnight.

20. Day: Summit of Chimborazo

The highest of Ecuador’s expired volcanoes and the only remaining 6000er of course represents one of the most popular mountain destinations of the country, perhaps even of the entire Andean region. No wonder, as only a few mountains of this dimension can be managed so quickly and with relatively little alpine difficulties. For a long time the Chimborazo used to be known as the highest mountain on earth, before discovering higher ones in Asia. If you measure the distance from the earth mid, it would actually really be the highest mountain. Due to the ellipse form of the earth nothing is further away from the earth mid than the summit of Chimborazo.

The first serious summit aspirant has been the famous scientist Alexander von Humboldt in 1802. Apparently he reached the height of 5800 meters, wide into the heights of the glaciers, before the weather and the huge chinks forced him to turn back. Even it might be possible that he had to return further down, it lasts, in consideration of that time and the given means a really remarkable achievement. Later also Simon Bolivar tried to conquer Chimborazo, but only climbed up to the snow border. The real first conqueror is just a bit less famous. Edward Whymper gambled Antoine Carrel in order to conquer the summit of the Chimborazo in 1880. Today the main summit and also one of the both huts on the mountain are named after this admirable English man.

Long icy passages with a few gaps we have to overcome with the help of our front lights. The ascend of another 1.300 meter is quite exhausting. A lot nicer is the view at the highest point; this is a really superior feeling. Of course we have to climb down again, in order not to stay another night in the hut we have to drive back to Quito. There finally a hot shower, a good meal and a cold beer is waiting for us.

21. Day: Reserve day

Today we will recover from the last days. In Quito we will celebrate a bit our summit success. In case that the weather is bad on the two mountains we also can use this day as a reserve day.

22. Day: Departure

The saddest day of the entire tour, as today you have to return home. Of course our guide will accompany you back to the airport. Before you should fly over Ecuador mentally. Interesting deep views of the Andes and the Amazonas region create unique impressions and experiences and numerous ideas and new tour plans. We hope that you enjoyed your special South American experience and that it won’t be your last one!

Further information

A good physical fitness is desired and indispensable. Ice experiences are a huge advantage but not absolutely obligatory.

Extension of the trip

We offer a range choice of additional tour components that can be combined with this tour.

Additional information