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Climbing Cotopaxi Volcano

The highest active volcano in the world, Ecuador

Cotopaxi is considered one of the world`s highest active volacanoes and is at 5,897m (19,348ft) Ecuador`s second highest mountain and one of the highest in South America. Its perfectly symmetrical cone, covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice, gracefully rises from a beautiful paramos plateau. The climb up Cotopaxi is not highly technical, but does require a pre-climb glacier travel course with crampons, ice axe and ropes the afternoon before summiting. Then leaving around midnight, climbers traverse up the volcano arriving to the top of Cotopaxi after sunrise at 6am. Herds of wild horses graze on the extensive plains at the foot of the volcano or gather to drink at the lovely Limpiopungo lagoon, which reflects the jagged white peaks of the nearby volcano Rumiñahui (4,712m/15,459ft) and makes a great spot for watching waterfowl and other birds. Walking or hiking in Cotopaxi National Park, you will notice pumice, ash, stone and other volcanic debris amid the tiny páramos plants. On a day trip to the National Park it is possible to drive as high as 4,600m (15,092ft) up Cotopaxi, then trek up a sandy scree slope to reach the snout of the glacier at 4,800m (15,748ft). Because of the thinness of the air these 200m (656ft), which seem tantalisingly short, can take well over an hour to climb.

To raise the chance to reach the summit or you need to acclimatize to high altitudes we recommend you our Acclimatization Packages to ensure that you enjoy your Climbing Experience!





Arrive at PapaGayo and check equipment. (Transportation not included, you have the option to spend the night in the beautiful Hosteria PapaGayo, for more information please ask us).


Depart for Cotopaxi National Park.


Arrive at the parking lot at 4,500m (14,763 ft) and begin hike up to “Jose Rivas” refuge.


Reach refuge at 4,810m (15,780 ft).




- Climbing Instructions

-Technical Speech

- Security Advices

- First Aid Instructions








Wake up, eat a small snack and gear up for climb.



Begin climbing!!!








Depending on your climbing experience, you will arrive at the Summit of Cotopaxi for a magnificent display of colors as the morning sun begins to flood the sky.



Arrive at the refuge after a successful climb, enjoy much deserved snacks.



Leave Cotopaxi National Park towards PapaGayo.



Arrive at PapaGayo, and making a gear checks.



Optional – celebration lunch (US$10).



Stay at PapaGayo or return to Quito (not included).


We also offer you our Climbing and Glacier Course in Ecuador for the ones that doesn’t have experience on glacier climbing

Climbing high altitudes needs previous training, if you are not correctly acclimatized you can suffer from different altitude illnesses.

We strongly recommend to make Acclimatization Programs before you can reach the highest peaks in Ecuador.

Important Notice: Mountain climbing can be a high risk activity which can expose your physical ability to extreme conditions. For this reason we highly recommend to realize a previous appointment with your doctor for a general physical check up. We also recommend to not be taking any medication during your climbs, but in case you have to, you must previously ask your guide for authorization to take those medications during the tour. 

It is important that you have current travel insurance including personal medical insurance. Please inform us of any known medical conditions you have.

All Gulliver cars come with advanced satellite tracking devices to control position and speed, or for extra safety in an unlikely case of an accident. Every car has full insurance.
We always make sure to fulfill the highest security and safety standards for all our clients.

We put a lot of effort in organizing the tour; therefore cancellations require 24hrs notice by which we would give you a 50% refund. Cancellations will not be refunded with a shorter time notice.

 Please note tips for our guides are not included in the price. If you enjoyed your trip, a tip of around 10% would be greatly appreciated.



Contact Us

Price Includes: Professional bilingual guide (maximum 1 guide per 2 people), transportation from   to Cotopaxi and return, bed at refuge ´Jose Rivas´ on the 1st night, lunch on 1st day, dinner and breakfast at the refuge, special climbing equipment including:

 Special climbing equipment included in both packages:

- polar pants

- plastic climbing boots

- gaiters

- polar jacket

- crampons

- outside gloves

- waterproof pants/ jacket

- ice axe

- climbing harness 

Necessary Equipment (NOT INCLUDED):

- sleeping bag comfort zone -5°C (41°F)  (rent for $10)

- big and small back pack  

   (rent for $10)

- camelback type vessel for water

- water

- inside polar gloves

- energy drinks and snacks

- camera

- sun cream

- head lamp (rent for $10)

-warm walking trousers

- sunglasses

puffer jacket or similar

- wool hat

-walking sticks

-face mask

-Large rucksack (50-70 liter)(only needed to transfer gear from the bus drop off at the Cotopaxi base up to the refuge)

- Reasonably day pack(35 liters) (needed from the refuge to Cotopaxi summit to accommodate plenty of water, crampons, warm gear including puffer jacket etc)


The renting of equipment should be confirmed in advance with your agent.