Climbing the Cotopaxi (19,347 ft/5897m) 2 peaks in 5 days

Cotopaxi without a doubt is the most beautiful volcano in Ecuador because of its perfect conic shape. To climb it is a true challenge for beginner and expert climbers from all around the world. It is located in the central mountain range of the Ecuadorian Andes, just 62km north of Latacunga and 75km south of Quito. To succeed in the climb of this marvellous volcano, it requires good acclimatisation and physical training, this is why Cotopaxi Travel offer acclimatisation programs that help you to conquer the summit of this volcano.


Day 1:Hike to Corazon summit (15,702 ft/4786m), return to Pastocalle (3197m).
Day 2:Hike to Iliniza North summit (16,818 ft/5126m), return to Pastocalle (3197m).
Day 3: Day Tour to the lagoon Quilotoa (3914m).
Day 4&5: Hike to Cotopaxi refuge José Rivas (15,088 ft/4600m) and then to the Cotopaxi summit (5897m).

Detailed Itinerary:

We design an acclimatisation program in order to help you improve your physical performance with specialised mountain guides. It is a program for sporty people with the physical capacity and who want to train in the mountains.

Day 1: Corazón Summit (15,702 ft/4786m), return to Pastocalle 3197m.
The volcano Corazón is a classic for acclimatisation in hiking and also starting climbing. We will start early in the morning, leaving Quito at 7.00am and from there we head towards the south, through the Avenue of the Volcanos until we arrive in the town Chaupi. We will continue driving for 1.5 hours until the entrance (3600m) and start of our day hike. The first part of the hike takes us through the low Andean moorlands. Later on we will have to climb through a rocky part which allows us to reach the summit at (15,702 ft/4786m). On a clear day from the peak you can appreciate a beautiful view of the following volcanos: Ilinizas, Cotopaxi, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and a Rumiñahui. Here we can enjoy our box lunch after a safe hike, equipped with helmet and rope, of approximately 3/4 hours to reach the peak. In order to arrive again at the carpark it will take about 2 hours walking and once we finish the hike we will return to the Cotopaxi Campground in the afternoon. The Cotopaxi Campground is situated in the picturesque town of Pastocalle, located in the Cotopaxi province where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and rest in your mountain cabin so that the next day you are ready to continue with out acclimatisation program.

Day 2: Iliniza North Summit (16,818 ft/5126m), return to Pastocalle 3197m.
Starting early with breakfast, so we can leave at 7am and drive to the ‘Virgen Carpark’ (12,795 ft/3900m). Once we arrive there we will start our walk, it takes about 2.5/3 hours to arrive in the ‘New Horizons Refuge’ (15,580 ft/4750m). Here in the refuge we will rest for a little bit and maybe have a snack before taking a moment to put on our helmets and harnesses in order to continue hiking up to the North summit. Generally this will take another 2/3 hours to reach the peak altitude of 16,818 ft/5126m, where we can happily rest a little and enjoy our box lunches, while taking lots of photos of the beautiful view that surrounds us. Once we are ready we can start the decent but we will go down by a different route on the the North face of the volcano. This route is more of a sandy hillside and approximately it takes 2 hours to return to the car park where we can then get back in the car and return to the Cotopaxi Campground for a delicious dinner and some well deserved rest.

Day 3: Free day- Quilotoa.
In your free day you will have the chance to enjoy the facilities that the Cotopaxi Campground offers or visit the nearby tourist attractions, one being the incredible Quilotoa lagoon found at 3900m altitude with the most beautiful turquoise coloured lagoon, due to the huge quantity of minerals it posses being located inside the Ecological Ilinizas Reserve. After we enjoy breakfast in the Cotopaxi Campground we will start the tour at 8am.We will drive through Andean landscapes and depending on the day, on the way we will have the opportunity to stop in an Indigenous Market and later visit the Tingua community in order to look at the workshops of the local painters where they paint in the sheep skin which portrays a very colourful art that represents their traditions and culture. Arriving in the viewpoint of the lagoon, where you can appreciate the magnitude of the crater and the lagoon, where we can enjoy our lunch. This trip will take approximately 6 hours in total, later we will return to the Cotopaxi Campground, enjoy some dinner and rets in the evening.

Day 4 & 5: José Rivas refuge (15,088 ft/4600m) and Cotopaxi summit hike.
After enjoying a delicious lunch in the Cotopaxi Campground we will travel in car to the entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park. One of the most visited parks in Ecuador, where you will find Cotopaxi which is one of the highest and most active volcanos in the world standing at 5897m. We then continue 45 minutes to the carpark at (14,764 ft/4500m). From here we begin our walk of approximately an hour in order to arrive in the refuge José Rivas (15,748 ft/4800m) where will will have dinner at 5.30pm, a quick technical talk about the hike and then rest until 11pm. This is when we must organise our equipment and put on mountain clothes, ready begin to start our Cotopaxi summit hike at 12am. The hike up generally takes around 6/7 hours, to successfully reach the peak of (19,347ft/5897m). Depending on the climate we will take our time for photos of the impressive smoking crater, surrounding views and then afterwards return to the refuge which will take no more than 2/3 hours. In the refuge we will collect all of our belongings, quickly eat something and walk back to the car so we can begin our journey back to the city of Quito.


  • Private transfer from Latacunga to Quito- Cotopaxi volcano.
  • Registration in the SIB system (System of information of Biodiversity)
  • Professional mountain guide (ASEGUIM/UIAGM) 2 hikers per 1 guide.
  • Technical mountain equipment (plastic boots, crampons, harness, picks and helmet)
  • Accommodation in the José Rivas refuge.
  • All meals indicated in the itinerary. Box lunch (BL), Dinner (C), Breakfast (D), Lunch (A).
  • Personal mountain equipment/clothes (warm clothes, waterproof clothes, head torch, gloves etc..(see packing list)
  • Extra beverages
  • Tips
  • Anything else that is not indicated in the itinerary.

Additional Information:

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