This 9-day is an advanced trek that will cross all of Ecuador from North to South and let you see 3 amazing volcanoes: Antisana, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo. This trip was designed to give people the chance to experience the beautiful country differently. Surrounded by the most beautiful mountains in Ecuador you walk within stunning landscapes and have the chance to see areas with different vegetation.
With packed horses instead of cars and sleeping in cabins or tents instead of nice hotels, you will experience the origin of the country and you will have the opportunity to understand what the traditional way of life in the highlands looks like. This trek offers you a great opportunity to study the paramo ecosystem as well as the several animals which pass our way like the famous Andean Condor, just to mention one.
The view of the all-powerful volcanoes and the beautiful surroundings where they are located in, it’s worth any kind of effort. Take the ride and get ready for this unique adventure through the Ecuadorian Andeans with us and enjoy an unforgettable experience.
This is a high-altitude trek that consists of 5 magnificent days. It is designed for a wide array of people given we take packhorses with us, but being in good condition is highly recommended, as well as, a tough mental condition for challenges due to harsh weather. The climate changes frequently and can consist of intermittent rain, cold and foggy conditions, strong winds, and occasional snow.
The trek begins near Papallacta, leading past the high Andes regions of Antisana, and finishing at the one and only Cotopaxi National Park. During the trek, we will consistently be at heights of 3,000m to 4,000m (9,842 ft – 13,123 ft), and on clear days this will afford us fantastic views of the snow-capped volcanoes. It will also offer a great opportunity to study the high alpine vegetation of the paramo ecosystem and the spectacular animals found within it such as the famous condor that can be found on many of its stretches, hence the name of this trek.
This high-altitude trek is suited for those who are in good shape and enjoys mellow hiking through the Andes.
This trek starts at 3,200m (10,498 ft) and passes through agricultural land and up into the valley called Abraspungo. This valley was created by glacier carving in the past and now separates the sister mountains of Chimborazo and Carihuairazo.
During this hike, you will reach a maximum height of 4,000m (13,123 ft) and then we drop back down to 3,000m (9,842 ft). The entire trek follows dry trails and leads through a wonderful paramo region known for its own distinct high alpine vegetation as well as animals. On nice clear days, this trek offers great views of the all-powerful and impressive Chimborazo as well as other snow-capped volcanoes in the lower-lying valleys.
On the first day, we depart Quito in the morning and make our way east up toward the Cordillera Real towards El Tambo, a small village situated at 3,400m (11,154 ft) and close to Papallacta. At this point, we will load up our packhorses with our equipment and begin the trek which will take around 4 hours. The trail will primarily be muddy and consists of crossing small rivers where rubber boots are essential. We will set up camp near a small lagoon, called Laguna del Volcan.
After a scrumptious breakfast, we begin our ascent toward the foot of Antisana at 4,100m (13,451 ft). Until we reach the higher paramo, which consists of fewer trees and drier land, we will trudge through some muddy areas and small forests. During the trip, we will view the striking and impressive Antisana and the Santa Lucia Lagoon. After this 4-hour hike, we will set up our second camp sheltered in the valley with a refreshing small creek that runs through.
Waking, and shortly thereafter, leaving the foot of Antisana we continue our trek toward the foot of the Sincholagua mountain. This hike is much drier and leads us through high paramo regions, crossing a few roads, and leading up to the valley of La Mica Lake, a water reservoir for the city of Quito. This hike takes around 7 hours and is the most exhausting of the 5-day trek.
We will leave early in the morning and begin the steep portion of the hike which will lead us to the highest point of our tour, 4,500m (14,763 ft). The pass over Sincholagua leads us into the Cotopaxi National Park.
Continuing from there we descend to our last camp, the River Pita, which is located at the base of Cotopaxi National Park, 3,800m (12,467 ft). This last stretch of the trek will be on solid and dry ground and will take all together roughly 5 hours.
Around 10 am we will have transportation pick us up. From here we will visit the Pre-Inca site of El Salitre and continue up to the parking lot/trailhead to reach the Cotopaxi refuge. After a 45-minute climb up to the refuge “Jose Rivas,” we ascend to an altitude of 4,800m (15,748 ft). After having lunch at the refuge we will head back down in our transportation and go to PapaGayo Hosteria with an optional stop at Laguna Limpiopungo, a small lagoon famous for its nesting birds.
Night in PapaGayo Hosteria (Dinner not included)
After breakfast, we leave PapaGayo in the morning and drive south on the Pan-American till we arrive after a 3-hour ride at Urbina, a small rural village close to the highway and the old railway track, halfway between Ambato and Riobamba. Close in the vicinity of a local farm, we set up camp. In the
afternoon we will explore the farming area and its many animals.
After breakfast we begin our adventure, leaving the farming community of Urbina and hiking up the valley of Abraspungo, the pass between Chimborazo and Carihuairazo. This stretch takes 5 hours on a well-constructed trail, crossing some small creeks until we finally reach a place called Siete Vueltas, at an altitude of 3,800m (12,467 ft). Here we will put up our second campsite. Later in the afternoon, we hike around the surrounding hills to explore the area and get to know the interesting plants, and observe birds, like eagles or the famed caracaras. We also get a better and closer look at Carihuairazo with its rugged top.
In the morning we continue on and after an hour’s walk we will reach the pass at more than 4,000m (13,123 ft) and head down in a south-westerly direction towards Quebrada Colorada, an old stone quarry, located at 3,200m (10,498 ft), this will take us roughly 3 hours. The closer we get to our third campsite, the more the landscape turns from the lush green of the first days to a much drier region. After lunch, we hike to the foothills of Chimborazo for a better and closer look at this colossal mountain.
After loading our camping gear into the jeep we head up to the refuge of Chimborazo. The road leads through a region with sparse vegetation but populated by the beautiful vicuñas, the most graceful of the Llamas animals. We will arrive at the parking lot of the first refuge and hike up to the second refuge, which is located at 5,000m (16,404 ft). From there we will have the massive glacier of Chimborazo right in front of us. After lunch, we set out for the 4-hour drive by jeep back to Quito.
Necessary Equipment not included
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Gulliver Expeditions is a tour operator that offers unique Ecuador and Peru tours. Specialized in adventure travel such as climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding. We offer both pre-planned packages as well as tailor-made tours that can include the Amazon rainforest, once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos cruises and expeditions to Machu Picchu.
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