At a glance

Duration
Cost
$
Arrival Airport
Quito (UIO)
Grade
river grade
Daytime Temp
Night Temp
Average rainfall/month
Hotel
4
Camping
3

Overview


This is one of the Andes’ classic high altitude treks, characterised by incredible biodiversity, glaciated volcanoes, and high alpine isolation (much less traveled than the Huayhuash, for example), walking north between Cotopaxi National Park and the Antisana Ecological Reserve, along the Continental Divide. This trip takes place over the Thanksgiving Vacation time in the US, so bring family and friends and lets all be thankful for this wonderful trip!

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What you will be up to


1

We meet at 1PM at the Airport Garden Hotel in Tababela, 10 minutes from the Quito International Airport, for lunch and orientation meeting and distribution of gear. After getting acquainted we enjoy dinner together before resting up for our first day of hiking.

Included: Dinner

2

Our adventure begins! We depart at 7AM after a hearty breakfast. We travel 2 hours to the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park, home to beautiful alpine scenery and the world‘s tallest active volcano. Our transportation leaves us at Lago Limpiopungo, an alpine lake teaming with birdlife at 12,769 feet.

Today is an acclimatization hike. We walk 3-4 hours through the páramo reaching a altitude of 4000 meters/13123 feet before arriving at the Tambopaxi Lodge where we enjoy a delicious lunch. The rest of the afternoon is ours to relax, acclimate, and enjoy the alpine scenery. We will also have an orientation meeting, going over the details of the trek. Dinner and early to bed.

Terrain: Distance: 5 km, 3.1 miles, Altitude min/max: 12,769/13,123 feet, 3892/4000, 3-4 hours, Maximum elevation 2910 meters/9547 feet

Included: All meals

3

We start our day with the sunrise, pack up our horses, and start our trek walking east through the Rio Pita Valley and towards the rising sun. We slowly gain altitude as we climb over the southern flank of the 16,000 foot Sincholagua Volcano at 14,530 feet, the highest point of the trek.. We enjoy great views of the Cotopaxi Volcano to the south. We eventually descend to a small lake, Laguna Taracocha, at 12,303 feet, where we make camp, and a hot dinner is waiting for us.

Terrain: Distance: 16.4 km, 10.2 miles, Altitude min/max: 3750/4402 meters, 12,303/14,442 feet, 6-8 hours

Included: All meals

4

We start our day’s hike at 8AM after a hearty breakfast and walk northeast toward the glaciated Antisana Volcano. Today’s hike easier with a long downhill section to the Quebrada Pullurima where we camp next to a mountain stream at 12,140 feet.

Terrain: Distance: 16.4 km, 10.2 miles, Altitude min/max: 3600/4400 meters, 11,811/14,435 feet, 6-8 hours

Included: All meals

5

We continue north, and steadily climb. We arrive at Laguna Santa Lucia, a beautiful alpine lake and one of the most spectacular parts of our trek. The views of the Antisana Volcano are stunning and this is our best chance to see condors. ​We descend from an alpine environment into montane forest. This high altitude cloud forest is covered with epiphytes, vines, ferns, and moss and is home to the Andean spectacled bear, tapirs, foxes, pumas, and deer. The ecological transition is incredible. ​We camp at the limit between the high altitude montane forest and páramo, ​at Laguna Tumiguina. This lake was formed by a lava flow that dammed up a creek in the 1700s and we can clearly observe the black lava rock around the campsite.

Terrain: Distance 16.6 km, 10.3 miles, ​Altitude min/max: 3620/4380 meters, 11,876/14,370 feet, 6-8 hours

Included: All meals

6

Today we head northeast, gaining a ridge where we enjoy one last view of the Antisana Volcano and the montane forest before descending 200 meters to the community of El Tambo where transport awaits us. After saying goodbye to our mulateers. we travel about an hour to the luxurious Termas de Papallacta hot springs where we check into our hotel rooms, enjoy a well-deserved soak, and fine dining.

Terrain: Distance 6.4 km, 4 miles, A​ltitude min/max: 3600/3800 meters, 11,810/12,467 feet, 4-6 hours

Included: All meals

7

We enjoy the morning relaxing at the hot springs. Optional spa treatments (not included). Optional walk along river in cloud forest. After lunch we travel 1.5 hours to the Quito International Airport arriving by 5pm. End of services. If guests have an evening flight they can shower and rest up. Guests with morning flights spend the night and can dine at the hotel or one of the nearby restaurants.

Included: Breakfast and lunch

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