Cotopaxi Express

  • Dates: Custom-Call to Schedule
  • Duration: 10 Days
  • Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Client Ratio: 2:1
  • Cost:
    • 10 Day – 1:1 $2,995
    • 10 Day – 2:1 $1,995
  • Included: Ground transportation, all meals while on the mountain, tents, stoves, cook kits, group climbing equipment, and guide services- Group transport; Food and accommodation, all airport transfers
  • Not Included: Airfare, gratuities for guides, Personal insurance; Individual transfers.
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This trip takes you up one of Ecuador’s most popular snow-capped volcanoes, Cotopaxi, famous for its perfect cone-shaped peak, and snow-covered crater. The trip starts with a series of acclimatization adventures. First you will go on a city tour of colonial Quito and visit the Equatorial Line. The following four days are filled with acclimatization hikes, up both Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. The trip concludes with the summit of Cotopaxi (5,897 m / 19,300 ft).
Cotopaxi requires mountaineering equipment, excellent physical condition and lots of stamina. Most of the time, it is not technically difficult, but there are periods when hard ice conditions can make it very challenging.


The Cotopaxi Express Climb is operated in partnership with Andes Trek Expeditions, a small family guide service run by BCAG guide Pablo Puruncajas. Our partnership combines BCAG’s experience guiding backcountry skiing, remote ski mountaineering, and AIARE avalanche training, with Andes Trek Expeditions decades of experience leading successful expeditions in Ecuador and South America.

Old Quito Tour: visit colonial churches with their grand altars made of Inca gold, sculptures and intricate carvings

Standing at the top of Cotopaxi’s snow covered crater rim and looking down into the crater

Sweeping views from the summit of Ecuador’s tallest volcano, on a clear day you can see down into the Amazon jungle basin and the many neighboring peaks

The unique charm of Ecuador’s traditional haciendas

We follow the Canal Rio Pita route up Pasochoa, a straightforward moderately sloped climb through the rolling páramo grasslands up to the summit. At the top, you will have sweeping views of the valley below, including a look down into one of the few remaining humid Andean forests. This Forest Preserve fills the horseshoe shaped Pasochoa crater, and is home to more than 110 species of birds, including the King of the Andes, the condor.

After you have acclimatized to the elevation, we will begin the high altitude portion of the trip. First we climb Cotopaxi; where at the top, you will be able to look inside the crater and see its sulfur fumaroles and enjoy the panoramic views of the adjacent snow-covered volcanoes.

Cotopaxi requires ice-climbing equipment (basic rental gear is included in the trip package), excellent physical condition and lots of stamina. Most of the time, it is not technically difficult, but there are periods when hard ice conditions can make it very challenging.

You have the option to stay in a number of beautiful haciendas and lodges along the trip. In the hacienda package, the first two nights in Quito will be spent at Hotel Cafe Cultura, where you will be greeted with a bottle of wine, fruit tray and fresh flowers. Cafe Cultura was previously home to one of Quito’s oldest families and the French Cultural Centre- now it is open to visitors after being carefully restored. It is a blend of modern technology with the unique charm of the original estate and quiet patio garden nooks.

In the Andean highlands we will stay at Chilcabamba which is surrounded by volcanoes on all four sides: Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui. It is a traditional style Andean hacienda, with warm crackling fireplaces and a comfortable old world charm. We will also be staying at Hacienda la Cienega, a regal colonial hacienda surrounded with beautiful landscaping and vibrant flowers.

Day 1: Transfer from the airport to Hotel. Here we will have a brief orientation and gear check.
Hacienda: Cafe Cultura

Day 2: Colonial Quito city tour and a trip to Mitad del Mundo, the plaza along the Equator. Return to Quito.
Hacienda: Cafe Cultura

Day 3: Today we climb Pasochoa (4,199 m /13,776 ft). After a short drive, we reach the trailhead and begin our climb. The ascent to the summit will take 2-3 hours, then roughly 1.5 hours to get back down.
Hacienda: Cotopaxi Pungo

Day 4: We trek across the valley from the base of Pasochoa.
Hacienda: Chilcabamba Lodge

Day 5: Today we climb Rumiñahui (4,634 m/ 15,203 ft). We start our ascent near Lake Limpiopungo, and hike west up a steep sided valley to the ridge that leads up to the Central Peak.
Hacienda: Tambopaxi

Day 6: Today is a rest day at Tambopaxi, a beautiful new lodge located inside the Cotopaxi National Park.

Day 7: After breakfast, we drive to the base of Cotopaxi at 4,600 m (15,088 ft). Then hike up to the Jose Rivas Refuge. In the afternoon we will review glacier travel skills to prepare for the ascent of Cotopaxi.

Day 8: Today we summit Cotopaxi (5,897 m / 19,300 ft)! We wake up around midnight, have a light breakfast and begin our climb. After 6-7 hours we will reach the summit. The descent will take 2-3 hours, then we will drive to Hacienda la Cienega to stay for the night.

Day 9: Rest day at Hacienda la Cienega. Today is also a reserve day to climb Cotopaxi, in the event that inclement weather conditions delay our scheduled summit attempt.

Day 10: Drive to Quito and fly back home.

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