COTOPAXI & CHIMBORAZO
In the north-west corner of South America lies Ecuador; one of the most beautiful countries in the world. A highly volcanic region, the city of Quito is surrounded by mountains. This is an amazing country that also has the Amazon Jungle, Coast line and the popular Galapagos Islands.
We spend our trip on Ecuador’s volcanos, working higher and higher as we head for the highest volcano: Chimborazo. Join us!
The acclimatisation peaks are straightforward hiking/scrambling that can experience snow or rain. Cotopaxi and Chimborazo are more difficult and require the use of ropes, harnesses, crampons and ice axes, but are achievable to the fit novice.
Includes: Permit fees, communal gear, food on the mountain and lodge/tents, an Adventure Dynamics experienced high altitude mountaineer on the entire trip, two nights hotel accommodation in Quito on a bed and breakfast basis, hostel accommodation as per itinerary, all transportation to and from the mountain, info pack, t-shirt.
Excludes: All airfares, visas, medical rescue and health insurance, personal equipment, tips (approx $100 per person), soft drinks, bottled water, satellite telephone calls ($2 per minute), porters, alcoholic beverages, items of personal nature, lunch and dinner restaurant meals in Quito and extra hotels and meals, excess baggage fees, change of flight fees, health requirements, hospitalisation, unexpected costs outside of itinerary and evacuation if required. Any extras, hotel at end of expedition if expedition ends early, any additional expenses. Excludes Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Lima hotels if required. Trip cancellation insurance, evacuation and medical insurance.
Day 1: Arrival in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which lies at an elevation of 2,850 m on a long and narrow Andean valley surrounded by high volcanos. Transfer to the Hotel Quito, which is located in the northern part of Quito and offers a beautiful view of the city.
Day 2: Today we will drive towards Pasochoa (4,200 m) which is located about 30 km south of Quito. We will follow the direct route up the north side of the mountain. It takes approximately 3 hours to hike to the summit from the car park. Once there we can look into the old crater whose vertical walls preserve some of the last of the original forest that once covered the whole area. Pasochoa is also one of the few volcanos in Ecuador where it is still possible to see condors, the largest flying birds. After descending, we will drive back to Quito to spend the night.
Day 3: The gondola of the new cable car will take us up to an altitude of 3,966 m from where we will have a first glance of three of the highest snow-capped Ecuadorian mountains. Cotopaxi, Antizana and Cayambe. From there we will start our hike, which will take us to the top of this ancient volcano in three hours. Two hours later we will be back in Quito and drive to the Chilcabamba Eco lodge, which lies in a gentle valley at the border of the Cotopaxi National Park. Built from local and recycled materials, Chilcabamba is at the same time cozy, simple and charming. Overnight in dormitory.
Day 4: After breakfast at Chilcabamba, we will depart for the Rumiñahui volcano, an extinct volcano located inside the Cotopaxi National Park. This rocky mass, whose Quichua name means “Rocky Face,” has three main summits; the tallest being the north with an elevation of 4,722 m. On this occasion, we will ascend from Limpiopungo Lake towards the central summit (4,600 m). We will have a very interesting hike as we pass through Páramo vegetation and up to a small ridge. On the approximation hike we anticipate encountering llamas, herds of wild horses, foxes, Cara-Cara falcons, etc. After 4-5 hours we will reach the summit which is situated at 4,600 m. We will stay at Tambopaxi (3,766 m). This rustic but elegant lodge offers great views of the north face of Cotopaxi. There is a telescope so that we can have a closer look of the normal route up the mountain.
Day 5: Rest Day. Overnight at Tambopaxi.
Day 6: After breakfast, our transport will take us to the park land on the northern slopes of Cotopaxi (4,600 m). From there, we will have to hike for approximately an hour to the Jose Ribas Refuge (4,800 m). After a short break at the refuge we will head to the nearest glacier, where we will review mountaineering skills, including self-arrest, cramponing and glacier travel techniques. In the afternoon we will return to Tambopaxi.
Day 7: The morning will be dedicated to rest and recover strength for the upcoming climb. After lunch at Tambopaxi, we will return to the Jose Ribas Refuge. Once at the hut, we will prepare the climb of the most coveted Ecuadorian mountain: Cotopaxi.
Day 8: Alexander von Humboldt said: “Cotopaxi’s shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow…” We will begin the climb at about one in the morning. An early start allows us to take advantage of the better snow conditions and thus travel more quickly and safely. The normal route is technically not challenging but physically demanding. It involves climbing on moderate glaciated slopes (generally 30º- 45º). After approximately seven hours of climbing we will reach the top where we can enjoy magnificent views of the gigantic crater and of mountains such as Antizana, Cayambe and Chimborazo. After the summit climb, we descend to Tambopaxi for rest and recovering.
Day 9: Today we head to Chimborazo, which is with 6,310 m the highest mountain in Ecuador. There will be several opportunities to spot vicuñas once we reach the foothills of Chimborazo. These camelids together with the other members of their family: alpacas and llamas are the biggest native South American mammals. Chimborazo is considered extinct although some recent studies show that it might still be active. Its main summit has the distinction of being the farthest point from the centre of the earth making Chimborazo somehow the tallest mountain in the world. It does not matter from which side you look at Chimborazo, it will impress you by its size and beauty. Today we will travel to the Carrel hut (4,862 m). From there, it will take us between thirty and forty-five minutes to walk to the Whymper Refuge (5,047 m) where we will spend the afternoon preparing for the climb the next day.
Day 10: We will start the climb at about midnight following the El Castillo route. This route is considered the normal way up the mountain because it is objectively the safest one at the moment. It normally takes eight hours to get to the Whymper summit from where you will enjoy one of the best views in Ecuador. To the east and south-east: part of the Amazon rain forest, El Altar which is the most difficult mountain to climb in Ecuador and the active volcano’s Tungurahua and Sangay. To the north and north-east: mountains like the Ilinizas, Antizana and the famous Cotopaxi. The descent to the Whymper hut takes between three and four hours. After returning to the hut, we pack and return to Quito. Farewell dinner in the evening.
Day 11: Transfer to the airport. Return flight.