Dates: September 11-21, 2014
Price Per Person: $2475, double occupancy
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 topics such as:
- Wilderness Navigation
- Leave No Trace Ethics
- Proper Camp Set Up
- Wilderness Survival Basics
- Wildlife Safety and Tracking
- Backcountry Meal Prep
- Boutique hotel
- Historic & remote haciendas
- Climber’s Refuge
- Elevation range: 9,840ft – 19,342ft
- Average daily hiking time: 6-7 hours
- Longest Hike: approx. 8hrs to the Cotopaxi summit & 3-4hrs return; overnight hike
- Daily hiking distance: 6-20 miles
- Activity Level: High!
- Prerequisites: No technical skills required but a good physical fitness level is recommended and please do come with a willingness to challenge your limits
Day 1: Arrival
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!
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.
- Leave No Trace Trainer
- CPR for the Professional Rescuer (AHA)
- Wilderness & Remote First Aid (ARC & CWS)
- Nationally Registered EMT-B
- New Jersey EMT
- Confined Space Entry – 29 CFR 1910.146
- Wilderness EMT
- Wilderness EMT Advanced
- High/Low Angle Rescue Technician
- Search & Rescue Technician (SAR-TECH III)
- PHGA Mountain Leader/Level III Backpacking Guide
- FEMA ICS 100 & NIMS 700
- Food Handler’s License (for backcountry meal preparation)
- Level III/Mountain Leader Instructor, Co-Founder and Executive Director for the Professional Hiking Guides Association(PHGA). The PHGA follows international standards set forth by the UIMLA for hiking & backpacking guides, known internationally as ‘Mountain Leaders (IMLs).
- Board of directors member for the Professional Climbing Guides Institute (PCGI). The PCGI trains and certifies rock climbing guides at a nationally recognized level.
- Volunteer EMT and Sergeant at South Aberdeen Emergency Medical Services in Aberdeen Township NJ. South Aberdeen EMS responds to 911 calls in Aberdeen Township and provides mutual aid to surrounding towns.
- Lead Instructor and Chief at Bayshore Search & Rescue Squad in Aberdeen Township NJ. Bayshore Search & Rescue is a ground/wilderness SAR team serving the central New Jersey area.
You are booking an 11 Day Volcano Summit Adventure from September 11-21, 2014.
2014 Price Per Person= $2475
Your reservation is not confirmed until we have received your deposit of $850 (payable via PayPal upon completion of this form). Balances are due 60 days prior to your departure date.
The accommodations on this adventure are varied and based on double occupancy. After enjoying a boutique hotel in the city, we head out into the Avenue of Volcanoes where we will sleep under starry skies on the windswept plains in tents, and experience traditional Machai rooms in an historic hacienda. Prices are based on double occupancy but if you are traveling alone, welcome! We do our best to pair each independent traveler with a tour-mate of the same sex and won't charge you a single supplement fee unless you elect to have your own room. If you would like to request your own room/tent for an additional charge, just let us know when you book and we'll be happy to arrange it for you.
A machai room is a traditional type of accommodation in the haciendas of the windswept plains. With woven straw walls and incredibly comfortable mattresses with thick blankets, each room holds two people and is warmed by a crackling wood stove at the end of the hall. Bathrooms in the hacienda are shared with piping hot water 24 hours a day. Back to List
At just over 9,000ft, Quito qualifies in the High Altitude range for medical purposes. We will be traveling up to 19,347ft (5,897m). Please consult your doctor if you have a condition that can be escalated or affected in any way by activity at high altitude. We arrange our itineraries to include light activity for the first couple of days and a steady acclimatization program but that doesn't guarantee that you will not feel the affects of altitude.
Altitude sickness is a commonly occurring set of symptoms caused by lower concentrations of oxygen in the air at high altitudes. Symptoms can feel like a bad hangover and include nausea, difficulty sleeping, lethargy, headache and decreased appetite. Altitude sickness generally dissipates as your body acclimatizes but it can also be more serious and deadly if symptoms worsen or expand instead of decrease. Remaining well-hydrated can help alleviate and prevent symptoms so we recommend making sure you start paying careful attention to your water intake (at least 3L per day) at home before you depart and continue to do so while you are here. Also, stay away from alcoholic beverages while traveling to Ecuador and at least for the first few days that you are here as this can lead to an exacerbation of symptoms. There are some medications that can help with altitude symptoms; we suggest talking to your doctor before you travel to find out more. Altitude sickness can affect anyone regardless of age or fitness level so don't assume you won't be affected. To find out more, check out WebMd's brief summary of symptoms, suggestions and resources and an informational article from Princeton
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Deposit & Cancellation Policy
All of our trips require a significant amount of planning and (wo)man power. In order to plan your trip accordingly we require a deposit of $850 when you book with us to guarantee your spot. This deposit is non-refundable. Final payments are due 60 days prior to departure.
Cancellation penalties are as follows:
- Cancellations more than 60 days before departure: trip costs minus deposit are 100% refundable.
- Cancellations within 60 days of departure: trip costs minus deposit are 50% refundable.
- Cancellations within 30 days of departure: total trip costs are non-refundable.
We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel insurance plan that covers many reasons for cancellations (typically included in the required emergency medical travel insurance) so that you do not suffer a loss in these sometimes unavoidable and unfortunate situations.
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Your safety is our top priority. All local guides we work with are certified by ASEGUIM, the Ecuadorian Mountain Guide Association. They also hold certification as Wilderness First Responders (WFR) and are specifically licensed to work in Cotopaxi National Park. This particular adventure is run in partnership with North East Mountain Guiding in the USA who will send trip leaders and guides with certifications specific to the rules and regulations of the USA and international guiding communities. For their specific qualifications and impressive list of experiences, please see the "Your Instructor" tab or visit North East Mountain Guiding on the web. In addition to extensive experience and certifications, the guides we work with carry satellite phones and first aid kits stocked specifically for our type of adventure. ASEGUIM maintains a search and rescue team ready to respond 24/7 in case of emergency. If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Back to List
A large backpack is the preferable type of luggage for this trip as they are easy for you to handle and will generally hold everything you need.A smaller daypack will be sufficient for our daily activities and we highly recommend having a money belt for your credit cards, cash, and documents while in the city. Leave the expensive jewelry and valuables at home, you won't need them here! We will provide a suggested packing list for your itinerary after you have booked with us but to satisfy your curiosity now, here is our general list of Recommended Items:
First some things to LEAVE AT HOME:
- Valuables: Jewelry, expensive accessories, etc. You won't need them here
- Travelers Checks. People here don't trust them and often will not honor them. It is a huge hassle to redeem a travelers check and we recommend a debit and back up credit card instead.
- Laptops/Tablets/IPads: Because we are moving around quite a bit, there is a higher probability of damage to these valuable items. Also, electronics are much more expensive down here than in the US and therefore, a highly coveted target for pickpockets. Every town we visit has a plethora of internet cafes to keep you in touch with loved ones back home but if you must bring it, please make sure you have a protective cover and lock it in the hotel safe when out of your room.
Things to BRING WITH YOU: Keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive. We will send you an itinerary-specific list with more detail once you have booked with us.
- Passport (with photocopies)
- Travel insurance (with photocopies)
- Airline tickets (with photocopies)
- Cash and credit or debit card (Ecuador uses the US Dollar, don't carry large bills as they are difficult to break here)
- Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
- Large backpack and smaller daypack (keep in mind that you will be handling your own luggage if possible so bring something comfortable/easy to carry and bring along a smaller bag for day trips)
- Camera, film, extra batteries/memory cards, etc (we recommend a point and shoot camera that can fit in your pocket if you don't have a strong preference)
- Reading/writing material/small, inexpensive mp3 for longer rides and relaxing
- Ear plugs/Eye mask (we highly recommend the ear plugs for light sleepers, especially as some areas are home to early-rising roosters ;)
- Waterproof cover for backpacks
- Zipper/luggage lock
- Synthetic layers (long underwear, fleece top)
- Windproof/waterproof jacket
- Rain Pants
- Fleece jacket or wool sweater
- Small travel towel & bathing suit
- long sleeve shirts/t-shirts
- 2 pairs of long pants
- Pair hiking pants/gym pants
- Pair of shorts for coastal visits (we recommend lightweight long pants for visits into the jungle)
- Socks (synthetic socks for hiking are best as they help keep your feet dry and comfy)
- Money belt
- Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes (we recommend waterproof shoes; these will suffice for all horseback riding, biking, and hiking included)
- Sport sandals
- Hats (one for sun protection and one thermal for the chilly nights)
- Bug spray (primarily for visits to the Amazon or tropical cloud forests)
- Sunscreen (Remember, you are on the EQUATOR!)
- Watch with alarm clock
- 2 Water bottles (the standard recommendation for water intake is 3 liters/day or more for active itineraries)
- First-aid kit with any over the counter drugs you take regularly, lip balm, Aspirin, IB Profen, Band Aids, anti-bacterial cream, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar for mild cases of diarrhea, Tums, extra prescription drugs you may be taking, contact solution, glasses repair kit, etc.
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Passports & Vaccinations:
Ecuador automatically grants visitors from many countries (including the USA) a 90-day tourist visa each year which requires no effort on your part and makes entering to visit this amazing country EASY and STRESS FREE! That being said, you are responsible for all visas, permits, necessary health requirements, and any other documents as required by laws, regulations and orders of the countries you visit. All passengers traveling to South America need a Passport, valid for 6 months beyond the conclusion of their trip, and with appropriate visas according to the policy of each country of residence. Please visit the website for the Washington DC Ecuadoran Embassy for more details.
Need to apply for your passport? See the State Department Requirements
Please see your local medical professional to make sure you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations (and bring copies of this documentation with you to present to your trip leader). Your doctor should also be consulted for information on altitude sickness and preventive medication and/or pre-existing conditions that may affect which activities are appropriate and safe for you.
For a list of recommended vaccinations for Ecuador, see the CDC Traveler's Health Page
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For specific safety information pertaining to your Volcano Summit Adventure, please see the Guide Certification section in this FAQ. Your safety is of the utmost importance. We will do what is possible on our end to ensure your comfort and safety while traveling abroad. Don't let this issue stress you out; most of the people we've encountered in this amazing country are warm, friendly and welcoming! However, it is also important to practice some common sense in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention and to safeguard your valuables...just as you would in many large cities in the US!
- Don't carry large amounts of cash with you. It is difficult to break large bills in Ecuador anyway so we recommend against carrying them and since most of the logistics for your trip are already taken care of, you'll only need to carry enough cash for shopping, personal items, drinks, etc. We recommend the use of indoor, guarded ATMs when possible to restock your cash supply as opposed to ATMs on the street. Many hotels will include in-room or front-desk safes for your use. Use them!
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep track of your personal belongings at all times, especially when on public transport. We recommend a money belt or an under-the-shirt travel pouch to safeguard valuables, passports, credit cards, money, etc. One method pickpockets use to distract targets is spilling something on the person to draw attention away from their valuables. Keep a hand and eye on your belongings.
- If you are carrying a day pack, consider purchasing a small lock to secure your zippers and act as a deterrent against pickpockets and carry the pack in front of you instead of on your back when on public transport.
- Always travel in groups, especially at night
- At night take an official taxi, even for short distances. It's cheap and it's worth the extra safety.
- Never take an unofficial taxi. If you are arranging a taxi on your own, it is best to let the hotel or restaurant call one for you.
We also recommend that you bring copies of all important documents with you (especially passports) and keep them in a separate location from the originals. Even better, scan copies of the documents and send them to yourself in an email so that you may access them electronically at any time.
We will be providing more safety tips and reminders when you arrive and are available any time before your trip if you have any questions or concerns.
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To support stress-free, smart travel, we REQUIRE our guests to have travelers insurance with medical, emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage at a minimum. We recommend extending your coverage to include loss of personal items, cancellations, personal liability, etc. Please visit the following links to compare some popular companies or consult your travel agent:
- Square Mouth compare policies and providers
- Insure My Trip compare policies and providers
- Travel Guard
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Although Ecuador is on the equator, the highlands can get downright cold at night year round so come prepared with layers. There are two main seasons here, rainy and dry. The dry season in the Ecuadorian Andes is from June-September, coinciding with the busiest tourist season and your volcano adventure. The weather is generally characterized as "spring-like" with mostly sunny days and cold nights. One of the most popular sayings down here is that you can experience all four seasons here on the equator...often in one day! With appropriate sun protection and layered clothing, you can easily be comfortable and prepared for whatever the Andes bring your way. See what Lonely Planet has to say about when to visit Ecuador and check out Weather Underground for current weather conditions.
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