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Summits Of Ecuador


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Climb Illiniza Norte (5125m/16,818ft), Cotopaxi (5897m/19,347ft) and Chimborazo (6310m/20,703ft) in an incredible 16-day adventure in Ecuador. With ample acclimatisation, time exploring Quito and the famous Otavalo markets this itinerary is a classic!


Join Quito (2850m)

You will be transferred from Quito Airport to your hotel. The afternoon is at your own leisure. A group briefing with our senior leader will be held from 7pm. Please ensure you are at the hotel at this time. A welcome dinner will be held afterwards.Overnight Hotel Vieja Cuba or similar.PLEASE NOTE: Please be aware that this itinerary is subject to change due to summit conditions and other variables. Your guide will update you on the confirmed itinerary at your first meeting.

Quito city tour and Equatorial Monument

Today we will explore Quito, taking in the colonial architecture of the Old City - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our city tour starts around 9am and we will visit the Panecillo, a small hill crowned with the statue of the Virgin of Quito or Virgin of Legarda, overlooking the colonial village of San Francisco de Quito, the Plaza de la Independencia, we will see the typical architecture of the colonial houses and the interesting names of the streets. We will go on to the Plaza Grande with the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace. We stop at the Church of the Society of Jesus on the way to the Plaza de San Francisco and we will also see the monastery and the museum of religious art Fray Pedro Gocial located next to the church of San Francisco. After lunch we will find ourselves in the 'Middle of the World' and we have a chance to visit the Equator. There are two equator lines in Ecuador, the official line and the original line, which was pinpointed by Charles-Marie de La Condamie on an expedition in 1736 (before the invention of GPS). Both lines are only 200m apart. We can also visit the Ethnographic Museum or for those who are interested, there is the option of the Inti-Nan Museum, showing some physical laws related to gravity and its influence and the astronomical knowledge of the Aboriginal Pre-Inca and Inca groups.Overnight Fuente de Piedra II or similar.

Drive to the Northern Province of Imbabura, visit Otavalo market, and afternoon acclimatisation walk to Laguna Cuicocha

Today we will leave Quito, and drive north through beautiful Andean countryside to the famous market town of Otavalo. The markets here date from Pre-Incan times, when people came from jungle areas to trade their produce with those of the highlands. This is still the case today, as well as being many crafts and wares for tourists. It is considered by many to be one of the best markets for textiles and crafts in South America. In the afternoon we will undertake a 3-hour acclimatisation hike to Laguna Cuicocha - a crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano. Overnight: Hotel in Otavalo.3 hours easy walking. Altitude 3200m - 3500m.

Ascend Fuya Fuya (4197m)

Today we will hike up Mt Fuya Fuya (4197m), with spectacular views of the Lagunas de Mojanda consisting of three pristine crater lakes, wide expanses of páramo grasslands, and achupallas (andean tall pineapples). At the summit on a clear day, it may even be possible to see the surrounding volcanoes of Imbabura and Cayambe. Overnight Hotel in Otavalo.5 hours walking. Altitude 3700m - 4197m.

Climb Imbabura (4580m), and return to Quito

Climb up Volcan Imbabura (4580m). The land around Imbabura is extensively farmed with maize, sugarcane, and beans being the staple crops of the region. Cattle also graze on the high-altitude meadows above the tree line. In the afternoon, we will return to Quito.Overnight Hotel Vieja Cuba or similar.8 hours walking. Altitude 3900m - 4580m.

Day at leisure in Quito

A free day set aside to rest after the climb and explore the delightful capital of Ecuador. Depending on group interest, a trip can be made to the local hot springs, the cost of which will depend on the number of those interested.Overnight Hotel Vieja Cuba or similar.

To Mt Illinizas, via Avenue of Volcanoes

This morning we will depart Quito, travelling south on the Avenue of Volcanoes towards Mt Illinizas. This route offers great views of some of the highest volcano peaks in the world including Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Sangay and Altar. From the Illinizas parking area, we will commence a 3-hour hike up to the refuge (4600m) of Illinizas where we overnight.3 hours walking with a full pack. Altitude 3900m to 4700m.

Climb Illinizia Norte (5125m)

After an early wake-up call and breakfast, we will depart for our summit attempt of Illiniza North (5125m). You will only need to carry a small backpack with the gear required for the ascent. After returning to the refuge and a well earned rest, we will walk back to the car park with a full pack. From there, we will be transferred to a Hacienda near the Cotopaxi National Park. 5-6 hours walking in total, 2-3 hour walking with a full pack. Altitude 4700m to 5125m.

To Cotopaxi National Park and technical training

This morning we will be transferred to the Cotopaxi National Park. From the Cotopaxi parking area, it will be an hour hike up to the Jose Rivas refuge. After a short rest, a technical training session is scheduled for the remainder of the day.1 hour walking with a full pack. Altitude 4500m to 4800m.Please note: In case that Cotopaxi is closed by the Ecuadorian Government due to volcanic activity, we will climb Cayambe mountain (5790m).

Climb Mt Cotopaxi (5897m)

We will start our summit ascent of Mt Cotopaxi around midnight. You will only need to carry the gear and food you require for the climb and the rest of your luggage can be left at the refuge. It will take us approximately 5-7 hours to the summit, dependent on weather conditions. At the beginning the path is rocky until we reach the edge of the glacier. From this point on we will use our crampons and continue on the snow and part of the glacier until we reach the summit. The descent from the summit to the refuge takes around 3 to 4 hours. After our descent, we will be transferred to our hotel in Riobamba. 8-12 hours walking in total, 1 hour walking with a full pack. Altitude 4800m to 5897m.Please note: In case that Cotopaxi is closed by the Ecuadorian Government due to volcanic activity, we will climb Cayambe mountain (5790m).

Devil's Nose Train

Today is a well-earned rest day, with a ride on the historic Devil's Nose Train. After an early breakfast we will be transferred to Alausi, where we will take the best portion of the infamous Devils Nose Train journey to Sibambe. This short section gives the railway its name with a series of ‘hair raising’ switchbacks that negotiate the descent down to the lowlands. This was one of the great train journeys of the world and a fantastic piece of engineering with a maximum gradient of 5.5%. The track originally climbed from Duran on the coast to its highest point at 3700m. It has recently been re-constructed to once again be Ecuador’s pride and joy. Return transfer to our hotel in Riobamba.Please note that the Devil’s Nose Train does not operate on Monday’s or due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control.

To Mt Chimborazo (4800m)

After breakfast we transfer to Mt Chimborazo. We will drive to our refuge (4800m) where we spend the night. We rest for the remainder of the day and go to bed early to be ready for our summit ascent the next morning.Overnight refuge. Altitude 4800m.

Climb Mt Chimborazo (6310m)

Our climb to the highest mountain in Ecuador starts before midnight (approximately 11pm). The trek is rocky for the first hour. When we reach the glacier, we will put on our crampons and continue through cracks and steep slopes with strong winds until we reach the summit. The level of ascent ranges from moderate to demanding as some of the slopes are exremely steep. The summit crater area is vast and normally covered in its entirety either in soft snow or penitentes. The climb to the summit can take 6-9 hours and the descent back to the refuge about 4 hours. This is a very long day which includes some ice ramps, snow bridges and sections of icefall and it’s essential to have a very good fitness level. In the afternoon, we will be transferred to our hotel in Baños.11-13 hours walking. Altitude 4800m to 6310m.PLEASE NOTE: The route we take on the summit day is dependent on the weather conditions on the day of the climb.

Contingency day, local community experience

Extra summit day, or free time in Baños with the opportunity to learn about Ecuador's culture as we visit the community of Pondoa. Baños is a charming tourist site, famous for its hot springs, located at the entrance of the Amazon and on the edge of the Andes. The beauty of the place and the hospitality of its inhabitants make Baños a popular destination. Nestled in the middle of a green valley, the city offers lush vegetation and is surrounded by forests, waterfalls and on the slopes of the active volcano Tungurahua 5016m. We will visit the impressive waterfall Pailón del Diablo. We will cross over the Pastaza River in a Tarabita, which is the transport of the local population that lives near the river. If the weather permits, we will see the almost constant activity of the Tungurahua volcano from the viewpoint ‘The Tree House’ (La Casa del Arbol).Overnight homestay in the community of Pondoa.

In Banos (1820m). Return to Quito (2850m)

Free morning in Banos. You can visit the Neo-Gothic Cathedral, enjoy the thermal pool or rent a bike and explore the surrounding (activities not included in the trip). In the early afternoon we will travel back to Quito which is a 3 hour drive.Overnight Hotel Vieja Cuba or similar.

In Quito, trip concludes

After breakfast you will be transferred to Quito Airport, where the trip concludes.

Additional Information

Ecuador is a fantastic place to climb and a great travel destination in its own right. With a diversity of vegetation zones, from the tropical equatorial jungle to the high alpine plateau, Ecuador is dotted with majestic snow-capped volcanoes rising to over 6000m. To appreciate these remarkable contrasts we climb a range of peaks (Cotopaxi, Illiniza Norte,etc), culminating in an attempt on Ecuador's highest peak, Chimborazo. Under the guidance of our mountain guides we undertake glacier training and practice and develop the skills needed for the bigger peaks. Providing you have an excellent level of fitness this trip is suitable for experienced trekkers that are keen to go a step further and climb their first 6000m peak. Visits to the Otavalo market, Quito and the famous Devil's Nose train ensure this expedition is more than just mountains but a complete Ecuadorian experience.

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