Maximum Group Size: 12
Embark on an exhilarating journey culminating atop the summit of the world’s highest active volcano at sunrise
Amazon Andes Sky is thrilled to team up with North East Mountain Guiding to offer this incredibly unique adventure. Your ultimate goal will be a summit attempt on the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, but don’t let that overshadow the journey you’ll take to get there! Along the way you will hike across wide open plains where wild horses roam, live in landscapes accessible only by foot or horseback, sleep under starry skies, learn wilderness skills from some of the top professionals in the industry, and watch the sun rise over a volcanic glacier at week’s end. We want your main focus to be on experiencing the highland páramo plains and preparing yourself for your summit attempt on Cotopaxi. To that end, we will journey to remote haciendas and camps that are prepared ahead of your arrival so you can relax into comfort at the end of especially vigorous days. Hearty meals, crackling fires, and friendly staff will greet you as we reach each destination.
While we adore adventure, our main focus is safety. Under the watchful leadership of local guides licensed by ASEGUIM and certified as WFR (wilderness first responders), we trek through the surreal landscapes of the Avenue of Volcanoes. Along the way, professionals with North East Mountain Guiding double check all safety measures and lead clinics to educate your groups on a variety of topics:
Arrive any time today. Most flights arrive in the evening between 6-11pm.
AAS will meet you at the airport and get you settled into your Quito hotel.
Day 2: Quito Old Town, Basilica (B,D)
Welcome to Ecuador! Today is our first full day together and we’ll take time to ease into the altitude and culture with a relaxed day exploring the city followed by a group dinner.
Activity: walking tour of Old Town Quito, the area for which the capital earned its designation as the first city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon, we will climb the clock towers of Quito’s Basilica and end our day with a welcome dinner as a group
Day 3: Pasochoa (B,L,D)
Transfer to the Private Reserve of Hacienda Santa Rita, where we start our acclimatization program in the midst of the Avenue of Volcanoes. The hike takes us across native woods and planted fields with views of surrounding peaks such as Antisana, Cayambe and Pasochoa. On our arrival at the cozy Hacienda El Porvenir, a hearty meal awaits us and we will be given an enlightening talk on the local history, geology, scenery, flora, fauna and culture.
Today’s Hike= 12 miles, approx. 6h, elevation range 9,840-11,808ft
Day 4: Cotopaxi National Park (B,L,D)
After a delicious breakfast, we start our hike towards Cotopaxi National Park, the entrance of which is just 2.5 miles from the farm house. Today’s walk is quite flat, which helps with our acclimatization process. Midway, we visit the Pucará del Salitre, an old Inca fortress. Following the Incañán (Inca path) eastwards, we reach our camp, where we get a fabulous view of Cotopaxi Volcano.
Today’s Hike= 12 miles, relatively flat, approx. 6h, average altitude of 12,139ft.
Day 5:Hacienda El Tambo (B,L,D)
Today’s route takes us to Hacienda El Tambo, on the eastern flanks of the Andes. We cross hills and valleys guarded by Quilindaña, a peak hard to see from the Central Andean Valley that bears a striking resemblance to the Matterhorn. By the day’s end, we will reach the farm house, an old mountain refuge built on a foundation of Inca stones and a cozy location to rest for the evening.
Today’s hike= 20 miles, mainly flat with a few steep inclines, approx. 7h, average altitude of 12,467ft with a max of 13,780ft
Day 6: Chirimachai (B,L,D)
Today, we hike on a circuit around Hacienda El Tambo, crossing the Chirimachai Canyon to reach camp. At Chirimachai the climate from the eastern jungle rises to meet that of the Central Andean Valley. There is a great supply of natural water, straight from the glaciers of Cotopaxi, rising from the ground. The scenery is truly unbeatable. Along the way, we will be accompanied by local chagras (Ecuadorian Cowboys) while we trek through land occupied by wild fighting bulls.
Today’s Hike= 14 miles, approx. 6-7 hours, average altitude of 12,630ft, camp at 13,123ft
Day 7: Cotopaxi National Park (B,L,D)
We start out early in the morning, heading westward where we reach a very accessible, flat path laid out above glacial valleys and breathtaking panoramic views. As we reach camp, rest easy knowing we are now acclimatized for our final challenge, a summit attempt on one of the world’s highest active volcanoes!
Today’s Hike= 15.6 miles, approx. 7h, average altitude of 12,630ft
Day 8: Hike/Hacienda/Rest (B,L,D)
We get ready early and prepare ourselves for an uphill challenge today. Today, we hike to the Refugio Jose Ribas at 15,744ft, the climber’s hut for summit attempts on Cotopaxi. Here, we can feel the sheer power of the immense volcano at close quarters. A vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Hacienda El Porvenir, where we will be served a well-earned tasty lunch and an opportunity to rest before tomorrow’s summit attempt. Today’s walk is basically a long steep climb.
Today’s Hike= 5.3miles, approx. 5h, steep uphill w/ elevation gain of 3,500ft
Day 9-10: Cotopaxi Glaciers & THE SUMMIT! (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we check out our mountain climbing gear and enjoy an early lunch at Hacienda El Porvenir before transferring to the parking lot of the Refugio Jose Ribas. From there we will climb to the hut (15.744 ft, approx. 1h). This afternoon, we will practice safety and mountain climbing techniques with our specialized climbing guide, and become better acquainted with our gear. Dinner and rest. At 11pm, we enjoy a calorie rich snack and prepare ourselves for the climb that will lead us to Cotopaxi Summit (19.342 ft.)
The climb to the Summit takes approximately 6-8 hours followed by 3-4 hours down. Our vehicle will be waiting for us in the Refugio parking lot and will transfer us to Hacienda El Porvenir. Lunch and hot shower at El Porvenir. Return to Quito around 2pm.
Today’s Hike= approx 8hrs to the summit & 3-4hrs return; 3,598ft elevation gain; sunrise hike
Day 11: Departure (B)
Departure anytime or extend your time exploring Ecuador! There are so many Things To Do In Ecuador…want options? Just ask.
Joseph ‘Joey’ Vulpis
Joey is the Program Director and Owner of Northeast Mountain Guiding. He has been guiding for many years and is an essential part of the outdoor education industry in the United States. He is a co-founder of the Mountain Leader program (Professional Hiking Guides Association) which has established itself in the United States as the governing body for training and certification for hiking and backpacking guides (Mountain Leaders). Joey is also a co-founder and head instructor for Bayshore Search & Rescue, a wilderness ground search and rescue team in Central New Jersey and also a back-up team for New Jersey Search & Rescue.
Having completed the PCGI Top-Rope Guide course, Joey continues to work alongside certified guides on a weekly basis. He is currently training for his PCGI Multi-Pitch Guide certification. He is also a Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Advanced First Aid and Wilderness First Responder Instructor as well as a High/Low Angle Rescue Instructor.