Colombia & Ecuador’s Snowcapped Volcanoes

COEC-47a / 16-day trip / Grade: PD

COLOMBIAN VOLCANOES: Paramillo del Quindío (4745 m) – Nevado del Tolima (5221 m)
ECUADORIAN VOLCANOES: Cotopaxi (5897 m) – Chimborazo (6268 m)

Colombia & Ecuador's Snowcapped Volcanoes 1

Los Nevados National Park, located in the central Andes range and in the traditional coffee area of Colombia, is one of the highest mountain parks in the country. The protected area covers an area 583 km2 and four states: Caldas, Risaralda, Quindio and Tolima. There are three major snowcapped volcanoes: Nevado del Ruiz (5321 m), Nevado del Tolima (5221 m) and Nevado del Santa Isabel (4965 m) and two minor craters: Paramillo del Quindio (4745 m) and El Cisne (4750 m), plus many high altitude lakes. The treks and climbs are of extraordinary beauty, as many of them pass through the different thermic floors, where it is possible to appreciate the biodiversity that characterizes the country. The ascents are not technically difficult, but the area is known for the long distances to be covered during the daily hikes.

The goal of this program is to attempt the Nevado del Tolima volcano (5221 m), and for this purpose the itinerary includes a trek and climb of Paramillo del Quindío (4754 m) before the major summit. The Colombia section of the program provides a perfect acclimatization for the climbs in Ecuador, while enjoying a great place and myriad activities.

Day 1 Arrival in Bogotá (2660 m)
Day 2 Bogotá – Full day city tour (2660 m)
Day 3 Pereira – Trek: “La Pastora” (2536 m)
Day 4 Trekking: “Berlin” farm (3848 m)
Day 5 Climb: Paramillo del Quíndio (4745 m)
Day 6 Trekking: Tolima’s high camp (4345 m)
Day 7 Climb: Nevado del Tolima (5221 m)
Day 8 Trekking: Salento (1919 m)
Day 9 Salento (1919 m) – Bogotá
Day 10 Departure from Bogotá – Fly to Quito (2850 m)


Well-acclimated, we land in Quito at 2800 m for the second part of the trip. The Ecuador program is full of spectacular climbs, giving the chance to attempt some of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world and to reach the two highest summits in the country: Cotopaxi at 5897 m and Chimborazo at 6312 m. Surrounded by gorgeous nature and exotic indigenous villages and cultures, this climbing trip is the experience of a lifetime. We provide professional guides, excellent equipment, good accommodation, transportation and food.

Day 11 Cotopaxi – Glacier for training (4680 m)
Day 12 Climb: Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m)
Day 13 Town of Baños de Santa Agua (1820 m) – Rest day 
Day 14 Chimborazo – Carrel hut (4800 m)
Day 15 Climb: Chimborazo Volcano 6268 m
Day 16 Departure
Day 1

Arrival in Bogotá
Reception at the airport and transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Bogotá – Full day city tour (2660 m)
Full-day private city tour to the historic part of Bogotá. After breakfast, meeting with guide and transfer to Bogotá’s downtown. The first visit is a cable car trip to the Monserrate Sanctuary, an iconic church located at an altitude of 3152 m, overlooking the city. Then the tour will continue by foot to see the charming colonial area known as La Candelaria and its main attractions: La Plaza Bolivar (Bogotá’s mains square), the museum of the famous Colombian artist Botero and the world famous gold museum.
Duration 6-7 hours.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 3

Bogotá – Pereira – Trek: “La Pastora” (2460 m)
Pick-up at hotel and transfer to domestic terminal for a flight (1 h) to the city of Pereira, located at the heart of the Coffee area. Upon arrival, there will be a transport ready to take the group to the beginning of the trail, before heading into the mountains, there will be a short stop in city to buy some snacks and any last minute things, that people might need. Then the drive takes about 2 hours by the margins of the Otun River, passing the rural areas of “La Florida” and “La Suiza”, until the head of trail known as “El Cedral” (2105 m). From this point, the group will follow a very nice trail with a moderate ascent rate for 2.5 – 3 h to “La Pastora” refuge, located in the cloud rain forrest, the place to spend the night.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 355 m / Highest altitude: 2460 m / Distance: 5,9 Km / Activity duration: 2,5-3 h
Included meals: Picnic, Dinner

Day 4

Trekking: “Berlin” farm (3848 m)
Departure from “La Pastora”, taking the same trail as the day before, but by a steeper terrain. It will take about 2,5 h to reach a very well-know farm called “El Jordan”, located at an idyllic place between volcanic hills covered with dense vegetation and decorated with waterfalls of crystal clear water. From here, the vegetation starts to change into paramo and the forrest starts to open up. The last section is quite steep, following a long traversing trail until the ridge of the El Agrado valley, which will lead to the next farm “Berlin”. This is one of the most beautiful places in the park, in a seldom visited area.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 1388 m / Highest altitude: 3848 m / Distance: 10,9 Km / Activity duration: 4 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 5

Climb: Paramillo del Quíndio (4745 m)
Today is the first climb of the program and, therefore, a very early start is necessary. The hike begins ascending “El Agrado” River valley up to the mountain pass called “La Angustia” (4193 m), the border between the states of Risaralda and Quindío. A gentle descend to the Quebrada Cardenas’ valley and a short re ascent, on the northern flank of the valley, to the beautiful “humedales” wetland area (4193 m). It is in these wetlands that the Rio Quindío is born, and much of the water provided to the lower regions comes from here. After a good break for lunch, the team will climb the extinct Volcano of El Paramillo del Quindío, the highest summit in the Quindío state. The ascent is quite demanding due to the steepness of the terrain and the altitude. Most of the trail is over slippery scree that goes in an almost direct line up to the ridge called “El Caballete”, from where the climb follows a very spectacular red colored sand ridge up the main summit (4745 m). El Paramillo has one of the best views in the park, as it is located almost in at the center of the park with a 360º panoramic view. On clear days it is possible to see all three main summits: to the north Nevado Santa Isabel (4965 m) and Nevado del Ruiz (5321 m) and to the south Nevado del Tolima (5221 m). The descent is done by the same trail.
Note: if some people are tired or do not wish to climb this summit, it is possible for them to take a rest at the base while the others ascend the volcano, and then be reunited on the descent.
Once back at the wetlands, the team will hike downwards on the southern flank of the Cardenas’ valley until the mountain pass of “La Linea” (4019 m), which divides the departments of Quindío and Tolima. From this natural border a progressive descend to either La Primavera or La Playa farms in the Tolima’s valley (3769 m).
Night in tent.
To the Humedales area: Ascent: 345 / descend: 424 m / Highest Altitude: 4193 m / Distance: 16,4 Km / Activity duration: 7-8 h
To the summit of Paramillo del Quindío: Ascent: 897 / Descend: 976 m / Highest Altitude: 4745 m / Distance: 19,4 Km / Activity duration: 9-10 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 6

Trekking: Tolima’s high camp (4345 m)
Today’s aim is to reach the Nevado del Tolima’s high camp. The team will have a easy going morning, getting all the gear ready for the climb. The group will leave before midday, hiking by the Tolima’s valley, which present a gentle ascent and a very pleasant hike, with a enjoyable landscapes and view to both the volcanoes and the valleys below. The last section of the hike, follows a bit steep mountain side up to a ridge known as “El Calvito” and from there a short walk until the campsite called “Arenales”, which lies over a yellow sandy moraine. This camp can be quite windy and exposed, but with a very nice view. After setting up the camp, the guide will do a briefing about next day’s climb and help getting everything ready. There will be horses to carry equipment, food, water, etc. up to the campsite.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 576 m / Highest Altitude: 4345 m / Distance: 8,4 Km / Activity duration: 4-5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 7

Climb: Nevado del Tolima (5221 m)
Very early departure from the high camp, climbing up by a series of moraines of different steepness and few scrambling passages, before reaching the glacier at 4750 m. Here the group will prepare for the glacier crossing, starting on a very easy slope passing a couple of icy steep before the final plateau, where the main crater is, and then reaching the summit. Nevado del Tolima is an active volcano and the third highest summit in the central cordillera. The climb is not technical, but physical demanding, not only because of the ascent but also due to the distance to be cover. The descent follows the same trail down to the camp. After a good break and packing down the camp, the team will head down to the Primavera/Playa farm.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 876 m / Descend: 1452 m / Highest Altitude: 5221 m / Distance to the summit: 2,8 Km & from the summit back to the farm: 11,2 Km / Activity duration: 8-10 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 8

Trekking: Salento (1919 m)
Last day in the mountains, first a short ascend and then descent through beautiful landscapes and rainforest, making a semi-circular ascent ending the trail at the famous Cocora Valley, an spectacular valley located at 2425 meters adorn with Colombia’s national tree: The Wax Palm. Once in the Cocora Valley, the group will be picked up and transferred to the lovely town of Salento, by the traditional Willies jeeps (25 min.) that are a symbol of the coffee area´s coffee culture. Upon arrival in Salento, the group will be taken to a hotel located in the colonial part of the town. There will be good time to enjoy the town and drink some of Colombia’s best coffee!
Night in hotel.
Ascent: 123 m / Descent: 1467 m / Distance: 15,1 Km / Activity duration: 6-7 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 9

Salento (1919 m) – Bogotá
After a well-deserved rest and an easygoing morning, the group will have a coffee tour in one of the traditional coffee farms of the area. The coffee tour shows the entire coffee production from the seed to the final product. It also includes a very pedagogic coffee tasting to learn about the different types and qualities of the local coffee. Lunch will be at one of Salento’s typical restaurants and then there will be some free time to enjoy this lay back town and the wide offer of handy-crafts and local products.
For the active traveller, there are plenty of extra tours options like “La Kasa” botanical tour guided by experts in the fauna and flora, horse back riding itineraries, mountain biking routes, between so many others.
There will be an evening flight to Bogota and transfer to hotel.
End of services
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 10

Departure from Bogotá – Fly to Quito (2850 m)
Morning transfer to the international airport for a flight (1.20 min) to Ecuador. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to the colonial downtown for a half day city tour.
This private city tour in the historical part of Quito includes: La Basilica Church, La Compañia Church and “El Panecillo”, the hill in the center of Quito overlooking the city and the historical center. From here, on clear days, we may observe several of the snow-capped volcanoes surrounding the capital. It is also a great opportunity to simply soak up the local atmosphere of this easygoing city.
After checking in the hotel, the mountain guide will do a briefing about the climbing program for the coming days
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 11

Cotopaxi – Glacier training (4990 m)
After a good rest and a well deserve breakfast, a 2 hours transfer will take the group to the Cotopaxi’s Parking area (4587 m). Then an 1-hour hike to Cotopaxi’s mountain hut (4847 m), a short break, and then continuing the hike for another 45 minutes up to the low part of the glacier (4990 m). Once there, the team will gear up and follow the guide’s instruction in the use of crampons, ice axe, rope and all the appropriate technical gear for the climb. This is in no way an alpine course, just a brief introduction into the technics need for the ascent. This activity will also improve the acclimatization due to the physical activity in altitude. After the training, the team will head back down to the hut for the night (4847 m). The rest of the afternoon is for the climb’s preparations. The guides will do a detailed briefing about all the aspects of the ascent and help with all the gear. An early dinner will be serve and then rest, until the guides call for breakfast, usually around midnight.
Night at the hut in dormitories with bunk beds.
Ascent: 403 m / Descend: 143 m / Highest Altitude: 4990 m / Distance: 1.2 km one way / Activity duration: 4 – 5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 12

Climb: Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m)
The summit day starts very early; departure time will be set by the mountain guides, according to the team’s physical condition and the weather-forecast, usually in the range between 11 PM and 2 AM. Breakfast will be served 1 hour before the scheduled departure. The team will begin the ascent from the hut following a well marked trail that gently ascents over a fine stoned moraine for about 1 hour. Once on the edge of the glacier (4990 m), the group will gear up and divide, in case of a big group, into smaller teams in a range of 2 clients for 1 guide. The Cotopaxi’s climb requires endurance and a good deal mental strength. Cotopaxi’s glacier is quite save and the climb not technically difficult, but there are a few crevassed areas and some few icy slopes that make the route interesting.
The first section of the glacier is a gentle slope that gets steeper as it goes higher, there is a series of switchbacks know as “Heart Breaker”, being the toughest part of the ascent due to its demanding steepness and continuity. After this a very nice ridge gradually gains altitude, passing close to the prominent rock face know as “Yanasacha” at about 5630 m. From this point a relatively long traverse to the right before another set of switchbacks that lead up to the crater’s rim and few meters later to the main summit. The climb takes an average time of 7-8 hours. Cotopaxi’s summit is one of the most spectacular ones, looking down into the double rim crater and, on clear days, it is possible to see most of the neighboring volcanoes as: Antisana, Cayambe, Ilinizas, Chimborazo, El Altar and the active Tunguragua. The descent is done following back the same way, taking between 3-4 hours. Once back at the huts and after the whole group reunites, a short hike down (20 minutes) to the parking place and drive to the town of Baños (3-4 h).
Night in hotel.
Ascent: 1050 m / Descent: 1315 m / Highest Altitude: 5897 m / Distance to the summit: 2.47 Km & Distance from summit to parking place: 3.22 Km / Activity duration: 10-12 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 13

Town of Baños de Santa Agua (1820 m) – Rest Day
The town of Baños, as it if locally know, lies in the Tunguragua province just at the foothills of the active Tunguragua Volcano (5023 m). Baños is called the “Gateway to the Amazon” as it’s the last andean town before reaching the Amazon basin. Due to its privileged location, this town offers a great deal of activities. The best known are the hot-springs (baños), which one can enjoy many places around town. Adventure sports are also widely spread like mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, etc.
Baños also have some great scenery with the famous waterfalls that lie few kilometers down the valley. The best known are “El Pailon del Diablo” (Devil’s pot) and “El manto de la Novia” (the Bride’s veil), which can be visited taking a local taxi. The “Tarabita” (Cable-car) to cross over the Pastaza River and on the other side of the valley, it is possible to hike through the orchards and gardens of the local peasants.
In few words, there are plenty of options to do or just take a easy going day to enjoy the nice temperature and beautiful surroundings.
Night at hotel.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 14

Chimborazo – Carrel hut (4800 m)
After a day of leisure and a relaxing morning in the town of Baños, the group will pack and drive (3 h) back to the highland towards Chimborazo National Park. On the way, there will a couple of short stops and time to buy the last snacks before leaving “civilization”. Chimborazo volcano is an impressive mountain that stands out from the “Volcanoes Avenue”. The indigenous farmed land that surrounds the mountains are all traditionally worked and very colorful during the harvest season. While driving up to the main entrance, it is possible to see very dramatic landscapes were the actions of the old eruptions have shaped the geography of the place. After crossing the park borders, the landscape turns very arid, like a desert, where it is possible to see one of the rare South American camelids: Vicuñas. These animal are difficult to see because they life in quiet inaccessible areas. They are master to survive in difficult conditions. The ones living in this park are not originally from the area, but introduced many years ago and over time became permanent residents.
The road goes all the way to the door of the lower hut “Refugio Hermanos Carrel” (4800 m), where an 1 hour acclimatization hike starts by a moraine valley up to the Whymper hut (5000 m) and then back down to the Carrel hut. The rest of the afternoon-evening will be to prepare the climb and have an early dinner. The mountain guides will provide all the information and help to assure the best logistic for such a demanding climb.
Night in dormitories with bunkbends.
Ascent: 200 m / Descent: 200 m / Highest Altitude: 5000 m / Activity duration: 1.5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 15

Climb: Chimborazo Volcano (6268 m)
Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and also the highest in the world measured from the center of the earth, due to is location on the tropical belt. The mountain has five mayor summits all linked by a ridge called the “Arista del Sol” (Sun’s ridge), which probably is the main reason of its Quichua name, which translates “Ice braid”. The main summit is the Whymper (6268 m), named after the British mountaineer Edward Whymper who has the first person to climb it on 1880 along with the Swiss Carrel brothers.
Climbing Chimborazo by its normal Southwest route is a challenging affair, is a long 1468 meters ascent and descent in one push at a considerable altitude. The terrain is also complex, as it changes from an easy moraine trail to ice, snow and rock sections, with some easy scrambling at some specific spots. Even though it is not a technical climb, it is physical demanding. The climb starts between 10 PM to 1 AM, according to the team fitness, acclimatization level and meteorological conditions. The mountain guide will decide the departure time and wake up the clients up, 1 hour before, to have some breakfast and get ready for the activity.
The first part of the route is no longer the normal route, but a variant known as the “Marco Cruz route”, named after the legendary Ecuadorian mountaineer who first ascended it. This variant joins the normal route after “El Castillo” rock pillar, making the ascent much safer and more scenic.
Once on the march, the first part (1 h) is basically a flat moraine until it begins to get steeper, with some few scrambling sections, before reaching the top of the ridge. After a short while walking on the ridge a bit exposed section hiking around the “El Castillo” rock before a flat area where the variant route joins the normal route. The glacier rises on a wide ridge that goes up to an approximate altitude of 5850 m. From this point a gentle traverse elevates westwards reaching 6000 m and then a relative strait up climb to the first summit: the Veintimilla (6230 m), then descend few meters to cross a col and then back up to the main summit: Whymper (6268 m). This is a memorable ascent to a summit above 6000 meters and a test of physical and mental endurance.
The descend is done by the same route back to the Carrel hut and, after packing, there will be a transfer ready to take the group back to Quito (4 h).
Night in hotel.
Ascent: 1468 m / Descent: 1468 m / Highest Altitude: 6268 m / Activity duration: 10-12 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 16

Time to leave the volcanoes of Ecuador!
Pick up at hotel and transfer out to Quito’s Airport (1-2 h) – End of services
Included meals: Breakfast

COEC-47a – To request prices, please click on the BOOK TRIP bottom on the right sidebar and fill the information.


  • Local English-speaking mountain guide
  • Local assistant mountain guide from 4 people
  • Local assistant mountain guides for summit days on Tolima Ratio: 1:3
  • Private transfers in and out in Bogotá
  • Bogotá private city tour and entrance fees
  • Private transportation throughout the entire program
  • National Park entrance fee and park’s insurance
  • 3 nights in shared double rooms in hotel in Bogotá
  • 1 night in shared double rooms in hotel in Salento
  • 5 nights in shared tents at campsites
  • Coffee tour in Salento
  • Quality mountain tents – 2 pax per tent
  • Group common campsite equipment
  • Mules for group/personal campsite equipment, food and pax personal gear (Packing and weight allowance – Information will be sent)
  • Included meals specified in the day to day itinerary


  • Local English speaking mountain guide during the entire program in Ecuador
  • Private transportation throughout the entire program
  • 2 nights in shared double rooms in hotels in the city of Quito
  • 2 nights in shared double rooms in the town of Baños
  • 1 night in shared dormitory at Cotopaxi’s high mountain hut – Jose Rivas
  • Entry fee to the National parks
  • City tour and Equator line tour and entries to attractions
  • Climbing assistant guides for Cotopaxi and Chimborazo: 1:2
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary


  • Domestic or international flights
  • Separate airport transfers in case of multiple arrival/departures
  • Personal climbing and camping gear
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list


BOGOTÁ: Hotel Casa Real 93  or similar

SALENTO:Hotel Salento Real or similar


Finca La Pastora (no website) or similar
Finca Berlin (no website) or similar
Finca La Primavera/La Playa (no website) or similar


QUITOHostal Fuente de Piedra 1 & 2 or similar

COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK: High Mountain Hut Jose Rivas (no website)

BAÑOS: Hotel Isla de Baños or similar

CHIMBORAZOMountain hut Carrel (no website) or similar





Tags: Climbing, Colombia, Ecuador, Quito, Tolima, Bogotá, Cotopaxi, Los Nevados, Chimborazo, paramillo del quindio, PD, PD grade, Cotopaxi’s National Park, Nevado Tolima