Tambo Area – Cotopaxi National Park
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.
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 (14,673 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 return to Quito with an optional stop at Laguna Limpiopungo, a small lagoon famous for its nesting birds.
Please note: In case of problems or difficulties during the days of trekking, we can provide help through cars, bikes, or horses.
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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