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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • A Local English-speaking leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All internal flights and domestic transfers
  • Good standard hotel accommodation (usually 3 star) in Quito on a twin share, bed and breakfast basis
  • Best available lodges and hotels in outlying towns, usually on full board basis
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free Water-to-Go bottle or free Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece
  • The opportunity to join one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

Cotopaxi & Chimborazo - Avenue of the Volcanoes

Walking & Trekking

Ecuador | Walking & Trekking

Cotopaxi & Chimborazo - Avenue of the Volcanoes
Vigorous

Suitable for enthusiastic hill/mountain walkers.

Find out more...

Grade: Vigorous ? Vigorous
Duration:  14 days from the UK  
On trek: 5 days
Walks on: 3 days


Land only from £1,995

Book now or call 01453 844400

An exciting trek past snow-capped summits in Ecuador's 'Avenue of the Volcanoes'.

Highlights

  • Visit the old colonial centre of Quito
  • Climb Pichincha and Pasachoa volcanoes
  • Trek to huts high on Cotopaxi and Chimborazo
  • Ride the Devil’s Nose Train ride

Reviews          

As always, the general organisation and ease with which the trip went off was excellent. Even the packed lunches were superb! We like being able to fully trust all the arrangements and recommendations that you make. We will book with you again very soon!
Mr & Mrs T, Nottingham

All went perfectly as planned. Galapagos extension was great and would be happy to recommend ... Trek, accommodation and guide all excellent. And my biggest worry, the airport transfers, all very efficient. And you even arranged perfect weather.
Mrs F, Hampshire

The trip was interesting, varied and challenging. Excellent acclimatisation. Very helpful, knowledgeable, friendly guide. I would definitely recommend it.
Mr & Mrs F, Hampshire

View All

This is an energetic and rewarding trip – you will trek up to the mountain hut on Cotopaxi which is at the same height as the summit of Mont Blanc, and to the Whymper Hut on Chimborazo which is even higher. There is plenty of time in the itinerary allowed for acclimatisation and the trekking is very varied. You will walk through a rolling pastoral countryside with its rich tapestry of cultivated fields, and through a landscape of snow-capped peaks and high lagoons. You cross the rolling moorland of the pāramo and you trek up through the dramatic lunar landscape on the upper slopes of volcanoes. Grazing llamas and alpacas are common sights along the way and you may also see condor, humming birds, foxes, white-tailed deer and many other species that are indigenous to Ecuador.

Despite being the smallest of the Andean nations, Ecuador has as much spectacular scenery and natural beauty as its larger neighbours and this action-packed holiday takes in all the real highlights. The country lies on the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’, the highly seismic zone that encircles the Pacific. South of the capital Quito, two parallel chains of the Andes rise to their most dramatic peaks known as ‘The Avenue of the Volcanoes’. Eight of Ecuador’s ten highest summits are found in this part of the country and on this exciting trip you will trek to two of them: Cotopaxi, at 5,896m/19,347ft, is the highest active volcano in the world and Chimborazo (6,309m/20,702ft) is the highest peak in Ecuador. Chimborazo also has the additional claim that its summit is the furthest from the centre of the earth so it could technically compete with Everest as the highest summit on earth. You should also enjoy good views of many of the other volcanoes in the region – Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, the Illinizas, Pasachoa and many more.

Your accommodation will be as varied and interesting as the country you are trekking through as you will stay in hotels, lodges and a charming guesthouse as well as spending a night in a delightful old hacienda at the heart of one of the largest farms in Ecuador.

As a thrilling finale to your trip you will take the spectacular Devil’s Nose Train ride before returning to Quito for your flight home.


At a glance

Grade: Vigorous
Vigorous

Duration:  14 days from the UK  
On trek: 5 days
Walks on: 3 days

Max. Altitude: 5,000m/16,405ft, Whymper Hut, Day 11

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Quito

Accommodation types: Hotels, Guesthouses, Lodges

Meal arrangements: B&B in Quito and all meals included elsewhere. Included meals: 12 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 7 dinners.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-2
Fly to Quito. Time at leisure and guided tour of Old Town.
3-4
Visit Pululahua Crater and Mitad del Mundo. Walk up Pichincha Volcano.
5
Trek along Rio Pita to waterfall and lodge by Cotopaxi.
6-7
Trek to summit of Pasachoa and trek to Hacienda Porvenir.
8
Trek to Tambopaxi via Sarachaurucu Summitt.
9-19
Trek to glacier and hut on Cotopaxi. Drive to Chimborazo.
11
Trek to Whymper Hut, 5,000m/16,405ft and Whymper’s Needles. Drive to Guamote.
12
Ride the Devil’s Nose train. Drive to Quito.
13-14
Overnight flight back to London.
Leader: Local leader, Ecuador
Local leader, Ecuador

Your trip will be led by a fully trained English speaking local guide. In Ecuador these guides are enthusiasts for their mountains and are normally exceptionally highly educated, often in the States or in Europe and have lots of mountaineering and trekking experience. They can provide a fascinating insight into their country and an in-depth view of the area you are visiting. Your trip may be led by Fabien Freire or Pablo Montalvo both of whom are enthusiastic and popular leaders who have led this trip for us in the past.


Cotopaxi & Chimborazo - Avenue of the Volcanoes Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Fly from London to Quito. Group transfer to hotel.

    On arrival at Quito airport you will be transferred to your hotel situated in the heart of the new town. It is surrounded by good restaurants and opportunities for souvenir and handicraft shopping.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Reina Isabel
  2. Day 2 - Morning at leisure in Quito. Guided tour of the Old Town in the afternoon.

    You will spend the morning at leisure in Quito. Quito is a busy, vibrant city at an altitude of 2850m/9,300ft, and is the second highest capital in the world. The city is located just 20 miles south of the equator in a valley high in the Andes and over-shadowed by the dramatic Pichincha Volcano. Nowadays, Quito has two main sections, the old colonial town which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the new town, where most hotels and tourist facilities are located.

    In the afternoon, you will have a guided tour of the Old Town with its fabulous array of colonial churches, monasteries and convents. Firstly, for orientation, you will visit El Panecillo, a hill on the southern edge of the old town topped by a huge statue of the winged Virgin. From here there are great views of the old city and the surrounding mountains. You will then take in some of the major monuments from Quito's colonial legacy, including the vast cobbled square of San Francisco with its adjoining church and monastery and the richly decorated, baroque confection of the church of La Compañia. The streets of the old town throng with local people and there is much more of a feeling of being in the real vibrant South America here than in the rather staid and less characterful newer part of town.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Reina Isabel
  3. Day 3 - Visit Pululahua Crater and Mitad del Mundo.

    Today will be spent in the environs of Quito city to help acclimatise to the altitude. After breakfast you will drive north of the city to the Pululahua Crater, one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world with a diameter of 8km. Here a 40 minutes steep walk down a small path will bring you to the cultivated fields at the bottom of the crater and your first easy introduction to the rural landscape of the Andes. By late morning clouds often blow up from the west to fill the crater. Before returning to Quito city you may visit the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). This is a rather touristy complex marking the equator but it does also have an interesting museum and displays. In the evening your guide may give you an introductory slide presentation on Ecuador.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Reina Isabel
  4. Day 4 - Walk up Pichincha Volcano.
    cotopaxi and chimborazo view of pichincha.

    To the west of Quito are the two summits of the volcano Pichincha - Rucu Pichincha (4,674m/15,335ft) with its cluster of aerials and Guagua Pichina at 4,794m/15,729ft. Today, as a valuable acclimatisation walk, you will hike to the summit of Pichincha. Firstly you will take the cable car to 4,000m and then walk up to the refuge and finally the final steep section to the summit. From the top the all-round views are tremendous. You will then descend part way and meet vehicles for the return to Quito.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Reina Isabel
  5. Day 5 - Trek along Rio Pita to waterfall, and on to your lodge - 5 hours.

    Today you set off on your journey down the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Instead of driving straight to Cotopaxi you will approach it more gradually, with the opportunity to enjoy the charms of the peaceful rural landscape, pretty farmland and small settlements along the way. You drive out of the city for approximately one hour to the village of Santa Clara at 2,750m/9,022ft, located in the Valley of Los Chillos. You then have a pleasant and easy walk of about five hours with good all round views and the Rio Pita gurgling beside you. For part of the way you walk alongside the river crossing from side to side by 11 bridges which the locals have erected to give access to the river and more especially to the spectacular and beautiful Condor Machai Waterfalls. This river flows down from the glaciers on the slopes of Cotopaxi and there are a lot of birds and other wildlife to be seen along the river, which is also full of trout. You will have lunch in a pleasant clearing next to the river.

    You then climb gradually to Cotopaxipungo Lodge, passing the 'Virgin de Piedra' (Virgin of the Rock) on the way. Passing the buildings of a hacienda you climb through trees to your hotel situated in a pleasant meadow at 3,280m/10,761ft.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Cotopaxipungo Lodge
  6. Day 6 - Trek to summit of Pasachoa, 4,200m/13,776ft - 5 hours.

    You set off after breakfast to make a day walk to the summit of the eroded, extinct volcano of Cerro Pasachoa. You walk through fields belonging to Hacienda Santa Rita and then ascend the eastern slopes of the volcano. Pasachoa's western side collapsed in an eruption more than 100,000 years ago and the inaccessible crater has some of the last undisturbed native forest remaining in Ecuador. This forest, as well as being rich in native tree species, also shelters more than 110 species of birds. In clear weather there are good all round views from the summit and down into the crater itself. You may also be lucky enough to see condors. You will then return to your lodge.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Cotopaxipungo Lodge
  7. Day 7 - Trek to Hacienda Porvenir, 3,600m/11,808ft.

    Your hike now continues toward Cotopaxi. You pass through humid Andean forest where you may see humming birds and other indigenous bird species and then you emerge onto more open 'paramo' terrain with views towards Cotopaxi. Hacienda El Porvenir is surrounded by four volcanoes - Cotopaxi, Sicholagua, Pasachoa and Rimiñahui and is the centre of one of the largest farms in Ecuador. The hacienda is set in rolling hills and there are good views from there back to Pasachoa and the other way towards the symmetrical snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi. The beautiful farmhouse is built of traditional materials such as brick, straw, wood and adobe and has a traditional thatched roof. Downstairs is comfortable with attractive sitting rooms and log fires. Upstairs the accommodation is more akin to a mountain hut, with two-bedded compartments separated by woven walls, but it is clean and comfortable with hot showers. The welcome at El Porvenir is warm and friendly and the food provided here is wonderful.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hacienda Porvenir
  8. Day 8 - Trek to Tambopaxi, 3,750m/12,300ft, via Sarachaurucu Summit, 4,230m/13,880ft - 6-7 hours.
    cotopaxi and chimborazo view of cotopaxi on trek to tambopaxi fletcher.

    From El Porvenir you walk through walled fields, climbing behind the hacienda into more open country, across hillsides covered in ichhu grass: typical Andean terrain. In this area you may see some of the many large bulls with huge horns which are run on the hills in this area - best to give them a wide berth! Over to your right is seen the rocky summit of Rumiñahui, named after an Inca General who fought in 1520 against the Spanish who were looking for the Inca treasure which was believed to be hidden in these mountains. You scramble to the highest of three summits of Sarachaurucu for good all round views, especially of Cotopaxi which is right in front of you. You then descend steeply from the summit and walk down the valley eventually turning south to arrive at Tambopaxi, situated just on the edge of the Cotopaxi National Park. Total walking 6-7 hours. You overnight at Tambopaxi Hosteria a substantial, well built and comfortable lodge with a large dining room from where there are panoramic views of Cotopaxi.The Hosteria has hot showers and the food is excellent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hosteria Tambopaxi
  9. Day 9 - Trek to glacier and hut on Cotopaxi, 4,810m/15,784ft - 6-7 hours.

    From Tambopaxi you trek into the national park across the rolling moorland of the paramo with its tundra-like vegetation. You walk to the base of the mountain and then ascend more steeply to the Jose F Ribas Refuge. Cotopaxi summit now looms overhead. At this hut you are at the same height as the summit of Mont Blanc. From the hut you can walk out to the glacier coming down from Cotopaxi summit and explore the area around. The glacier has been receding rapidly in recent years but is still pretty impressive with its seracs and great broken slabs of ice. Look out round here for the 'lobos de paramo' which are sometimes seen in the area - the locals call them lobos or 'wolves' but they seem to be more like foxes. You may also watch out for condor and white-tailed deer. Depending on how energetic you are feeling you may walk down to the small lake called Limpiopungo where you will see many Andean water birds - ducks, gulls, lapwings and various waders. There are also nearby Inca ruins which you may visit. Return on foot to Tambopaxi Refuge.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hosteria Tambopaxi
  10. Day 10 - Drive to Chimborazo.
    cotopaxi and chimborazo view of chimborazo fletcher.

    Today you drive from the Hosteria, past Cotopaxi, through the beautiful Cotopaxi National Park and out through the southern park gates. You descend to the town of Latacunga and then drive south along the Pan-American Highway and on to Ambato.

    You will then drive up on to the lower slopes of Chimborazo to Urbina, the highest railway station in Ecuador. The buildings of the railway station have now been converted into a quirky mountain refuge. The railway lines still exist in front of the building, but scheduled train services no longer run here and llamas graze all around. You will have lunch at Urbina before continuing around Chimborazo to the bottom of an extremely scenic valley leading up to Chimborazo summit. This is a lovely and remote spot. Your accommodation here is in the attractive lodge, Chimborazo Basecamp Hillstar, built on the site of the 'Tambo de Totorillas', a former roadside inn on the old Inca royal road between Guayaquil and Quito. This lodge is built in traditional vernacular style. The attractive dining room is located in a central building and accommodation is in twin rooms in two thatched buildings just across a small stream.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Chimborazo Base Camp Hill Star Lodge or Similar
  11. Day 11 - Trek to Whymper Hut, 5,000m/16,405ft and Whymper’s Needles. Drive to Guamote, 2,754m/9,035ft.

    Chimborazo is a massive volcano and is thought to have last erupted 10,000 years ago. Its snowy peak can be seen from ships on the Pacific, and it is arguably the tallest mountain in the world. Mount Everest is highest if you use height above sea level but if you measure distance from the centre of the earth, then Chimborazo is much higher - by around two miles - since the earth is not a perfect sphere, but bulges considerably around the Equator.

    From the lodge you take a little used trail up the very attractive valley towards the summit of Chimborazo, perhaps passing grazing llamas as you go. Vicuñas have been re-introduced onto Chimborazo and you may be lucky enough to see these elegant animals as you ascend. Listen out for them as they whistle to each other across the slopes. The route then becomes rougher underfoot and steeper and more rocky, the vegetation thins and the volcanic nature of the terrain becomes more evident. Higher still the landscape becomes ever more lunar. Finally, the refuge comes into view above you and you ascend to it. From the refuge, if you are still feeling energetic you can climb further to the rocky outcrop known as Whymper Needles for further stunning mountain views.

    You will then drive down to Guamote, a small, attractive town set on the railway line where you stay at the small, friendly guesthouse, Inti Sisi Art, founded in 2004 to fund local community projects.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Inti Sisa Art Guesthouse, Guamote
  12. Day 12 - Devil’s Nose train ride. Drive to Quito.

    Today you will ride the spectacular Devil's Nose train Ride, the 'Nariz del Diabolo'. The Devil's Nose Railway was one of the great railway engineering feats of the late 19th/early 20th century. The line initially ran from Guayaquil on the coast to Quito, but now only the section between Riobamba and Sibambe is operational which includes the spectacular ride down and up the Devil's Nose between Alausi and Sibambe. Here the line descends 1,000 metres down a steep slope on a series of switchbacks with sheer cliffs on either side. The train descends through cuttings in the living rock, with thrilling views far below and has to stop from time to time to reverse into switch backs. The entire journey is spectacular, passing through beautiful scenery and market towns before descending the Devil's Nose. Evidently it is no longer permitted to ride on the roof of the train! After the train ride you will drive to Quito.

    If for any reason the train is not running you will visit instead the lovely town of Banos overlooked by Tungurahua volcano.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Reina Isabel
  13. Day 13 - Free time in Quito. Group transfer to airport for overnight flight back to London.

    Depending on your flight time you might have a free morning in Quito to sightsee, shop or just relax and watch life in the busy city go by.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  14. Day 14 - Arrive in London.

    Today you will arrive back in the UK.

Map

Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek

2020

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sat 6 Jun - Fri 19 Jun 2020 Available£1995 BookContact us
Sat 5 Sep - Fri 18 Sep 2020 Available£1995 BookContact us

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Optional supplements
  • Single room supplement
    From £560
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £134
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No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • A Local English-speaking leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All internal flights and domestic transfers
  • Good standard hotel accommodation (usually 3 star) in Quito on a twin share, bed and breakfast basis
  • Best available lodges and hotels in outlying towns, usually on full board basis
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • A free Water-to-Go bottle or free Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece
  • The opportunity to join one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Lunch and evening meals in Quito
  • Airport departure taxes, excepting UK Departure Tax
  • Tips


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 3 reviews)

Excellent service          

As always, the general organisation and ease with which the trip went off was excellent. Even the packed lunches were superb! We like being able to fully trust all the arrangements and recommendations that you make. We will book with you again very soon!

Excellent acclimatisation          

The trip was interesting, varied and challenging. Excellent acclimatisation. Very helpful, knowledgeable, friendly guide. I would definitely recommend it.

Excellent all-round          

All went perfectly as planned. Galapagos extension was great and would be happy to recommend ... Trek, accommodation and guide all excellent. And my biggest worry, the airport transfers, all very efficient. And you even arranged perfect weather.


Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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