This Ecuador Trekking itinerary has been specially developed for people who wish to visit this fascinating area without feeling the need to ‘tick off’ the tops of the volcanoes for which the region is best known. Ecuador’s ‘Avenue des Volcans’ is at the northernmost tip of the Andean Chain and contains some of the world’s highest and most impressive free-standing volcanoes. From the colourful capital of Quito we first visit the Otavalo region in the north of the country for four days, hiking round lakes and lagoons and staying in a variety of camps, cabins and hostels.
After a brief stop in Quito, we now head south to explore the Cotopaxi National Park where we trek up to the base of the glacier tumbling off the mountain before heading across to the Western Cordillera for our last few days of trekking. We stay the night beside the emerald lake in the Quilotoa crater, and walk out the following day along the Toachi River to finish our trek at the Indian village of Tigua.
There will be time to shop in the Indian markets before returning to Quito and flying home, or, since you have come so far you may be tempted to extend your stay to either climb Cotopaxi (5897m) or take a cruise around the renowned Galapagos Islands.
This trip will operate with a minimum of 4 participants with a local leader.
Days 1 and 2 Depart UK and arrive Quito. You will be met at the airport, transferred to your hotel and in the evening enjoy a welcome dinner with your guide.
Day 3 We 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 will be provided in a restaurant on the way to ‘La Mitad del Mundo’ (the Middle of the World), site that marks the equatorial line and which is located 22km north of Quito. We visit a small ethnographic museum before continuing north for about two hours to the small Indian town of Otavalo.
Day 4 We drive up to the Mojanda lagoons and hike around this beautiful complex of 4 lagoons. There is an option to climb the volcano of Cerro ‘Fuya-Fuya’ (4294m) which takes about 3 hours to reach the summit. 5 to 6 hours walking.
Day 5 A pleasant hike downhill takes us towards the San Pablo lake. Here we meet with our vehicle for the short transfer to the beautiful Cuicocha Lake (3000m) were we spend the night in comfortable cabins overlooking the crater. 5 to 6 hours walking.
Day 6 After breakfast we explore the beautiful Cuicocha lagoon, an old volcanic caldera transformed by nature into a lake. We walk right around the large caldera, with the Cotacachi volcano forming a beautiful backdrop. A short vehicle transfer takes us to the small village of La Esperanza. 3 to 4 hours walking.
Day 7 We leave early for the climb up Imbabura volcano. The climb takes us from 3400m to 4200m, with beautiful views of the Otavalo area and Yahuarcocha Lake. If everyone is feeling good we can continue to the summit of Taita Imbabura (4630m), which does not involve any difficulty but makes a long day. In the afternoon we drive back to Quito. 6 to 8 hours walking.
Day 8 After breakfast we leave for the Cotopaxi National Park (1.5 hrs drive). Hiking across the high plateau at the foot of the volcano through Andean ‘Páramo’ we are rewarded with beautiful views of all the surrounding peaks, such as the Sinchologua and the Rumiñahui. We will visit some pre-Inca ruins. 4 to 5 hours walk. Our camp is at the foot of the splendid snow-covered cone of the Cotopaxi (5897m) volcano. 4 to 5 hours walking.
Day 9 Today we climb to the summit of the volcano Rumiñahui (4722m). The ascent is straightforward with some easy scrambling near the top. 5 to 6 hours walking.
Day 10 After breakfast we drive on a dusty road towards the Cotopaxi refuge (4600m). The road ends 200m below the refuge which is reached on foot n 45 minutes. We continue up slowly to visit the Cotopaxi glacier and return to the refuge for lunch. After lunch we walk back down to the campsite taking a beautiful path on the flanks of the volcano. A short transfer takes us to the small village of Insilivi in the Western Cordillera, starting point of our next trek. 5 to 7 hours walking.
Day 11 We now start our 3-day trek through the contrasting Western Cordillera. No camping as our nights will be spent in delightful Innsrun by the native Indians. This hike is an opportunity to immerse ourselves into the Indian life and to traverse beautiful Andean landscapes. This is an undulating walk passing through hamlets and cultivated valleys such as the Rio Toachi.
Day 12 Walking through an impressive canyon and passing through villages we eventually arrive at one of the most beautiful sites in Ecuador; the lagoon of Quilotoa. This is a still active volcanic crater filled with a lake. We spend the night overlooking the lake.
Day 13 For our final trekking day we hike between the lagoon of Quilotoa and the village of Tigua following the canyon of the Toachi River. At the end of the afternoon we put our feet up for the last time in a small refitted family farm near the Indian village of Tigua.
Day 14 We visit the Saquisili Indian market, authentic, colourful, and one of the most important native markets of Ecuador. Age-old typical Indian habits and customs can still be observed there. The market spreads across eight plazas in the village, each having its own specialty. Trade and indigenous crafts occupy an important place here – a great opportunity to buy souvenirs. A 2-hour drive then takes us back to Quito for our last night in Ecuador.
Days 15/16 Transfer to the airport to connect with your flight home, arriving back the following day.
It is vitally important that you have adequate travel insurance for your trip with Adventure Peaks. We recognise the complexity and variety of choice in the insurance market and know that many of you either have your own preferred insurer or have annual multi trip cover in place already. If this is the case, please ensure that your insurer is aware of your Adventure Peaks itinerary and can agree to cover the activities being undertaken.
Adventure Peaks do not provide any advice on travel insurance, although it is a requirement of our booking conditions that you have travel insurance which covers the activities which you are likely to be undertaking on your holiday. Cover must include emergency medical, helicopter evacuation, repatriation and rescue expenses.
It is strongly recommended that suitable cancellation insurance is purchased at the time of booking as all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
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