Angamarca & Volcanoes

ECU-10a / 12-day trip / GradeF

PEAKS: Angamarca Trek (highest pass: 4466 m) – Pasochoa (4164 m) – Iliniza North (5126 m) – Cotopaxi (5897 m)

Angamarca & Volcanoes 1

Cotopaxi, at 5897 m, is one of the highest volcanoes in Ecuador. It is situated on the Equator close to Quito in Ecuador, and is very accessible to mountaineers.

The surrounding Andes region, with its numerous volcanoes at different altitudes, gorgeous nature and exotic indigenous villages and cultures, makes the acclimatization and climb the experience of a lifetime.

On this 12-day itinerary we offer you an excellent acclimatization program, including a trekking program in an absolutely beautiful, authentic and remote area, which is rarely visited by other tourists or mountaineers. We provide excellent professional guides, equipment, good accommodation, transportation, food etc. Also, we recommend that you take a look at our extensions trips–these will add to your adventure and show you some of the natural wealth and variety a small country like Ecuador has to offer.

Day 1 Arrival to Quito
Day 2 Quito – Full day City Tour (2850 m)
Day 3 Climb: Pasochoa volcano (4164 m) 
Day 4 Trekking: Los Pinos campsite (3300 m)
Day 5 Trekking: Pigua campsite (4073 m)
Day 6 Trekking: Quilotoa Crater Lake (3900 m)
Day 7 Trekking: Chugchilan town (3198 m) – End of trek
Day 8 Climb: North Iliniza Volcano (5126 m) 
Day 9 Rest day
Day 10 Cotopaxi – Glacier training (4990 m)
Day 11 Climb: Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m)
Day 12 Departure
Day 1

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

Day 2

Quito: Full day City tour with “Mitad del Mundo”
Full day private city tour in the historical part of Quito, including La Basilica Church, La Compañia Church and El Panecillo Hill. We leave the hotel by our private transport and will see the transformation from the new part of the city to the absolutely beautiful historical and colonial part of Quito. We will make some stops during the tour and visit all the interesting churches, plazas etc., but also will have time to simply soak up the local atmosphere, the many shops and sellers. Afterwards, we continue to “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 Quito.
 After lunch, visit to “Mitad del Mundo” where you can stand on the equatorial line and do some fun experiments.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 3

Climb: Pasochoa Volcano (4164 m)
Pick-up at hotel in Quito and transfer (2 h) to the head of trail, located at an altitude of 3848 m. From this point a very well marked trail will lead the way by farm land up to the a paramo area. Here the trail heads southwards ascending progressively until the base of the crater. The last section is the steepest, following a mountain trail up to the crater rim. The last meters to the summit are done by the edge of the crater with nice views down to the valley of Machachi also known as the “Volcanoes Avenue” and the highlands to the west. On clear days there is a perfect view to the Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Rumiñahui and Artisana volcanoes. The descent is following back the same trail. Back at the starting point the group will be transferred (2 h) to the outskirts of the Machachi (2930 m).
Night in mountain lodge.
Ascent: 516 m / Descent: 516 m / Highest altitude: 4164 m / Activity duration: 5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 4

Trekking: Los Pinos campsite (3300 m)
Early transfer (4 h) to the town of Angamarca (2985 m), located on the Western flank of the Andes. The first part of the road is very good, leaving it after 2,5 h for a dirt road that makes the last bit of the trip a bit slow. There will be a couple of stops at viewpoints, as the landscape is very nice and different from the main valley, where Quito is located. Angamarca is a remote village with a traditional way of life, which gives a good insight of the local life style. The trek starts from the town, after having lunch. The day’s hike is about 3 hours and follows a local trail to meet a dirt road which leads to the first camp: Los Pinos (3300 m).
Night in tents.
Ascent: 315 m / Highest altitude: 3300 m / Activity duration: 3 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 5

Trekking: Pigua Campsite (4073 m)
After breakfast and having packed down the camp, the ascent will follow the Yayachanchi’s valley up a river that carries the same name. The hike starts by a dirt road and after 30 min. it takes a local trail. The Ascent is constant and very enjoyable; passing corn and beans fields on the way. After a relative steep climb, the first houses of the Yayachachi town (3900 m) will appear. This isolated settlement, was until recent time only accesible by foot or horse, but a recently open dirt road has ease access and improved the life of the local people. A short break for a snack and then keep on by the same valley, leaving the settlement, and aiming at a well marked ridge which, after gaining altitude, traverses towards the East reaching the Pigua mountain pass (4200 m). From the pass an easy descend to one of the most beautiful valley on the trek, crossing a river, and heading to “La Chorrera de Pigua” (Tigua’s waterfall), where it camp (4073 m) will be setup.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 900 m / Descent: 127 m / Highest altitude: 4200 m / Activity duration: 6-7 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 6

Trekking: Quilotoa Crater Lake (3900 m)
Leaving Pigua’s campsite, taking an almost inexistent trail up the mountain side heading East, will lead to the highest point on the trek: Zumbagua mountain pass (4466 m). This pass has some of the best views to the high volcanoes, when clear, it is possible to see Cotopaxi, Ilinizas, Chimborazo, Los Altares and the active Tunguragua with its smoke column emerging from the crater. From the pass, a green valley opens downwards, dying in a lower valley that continues to an Indigenous settlement. After the settlement and descending a narrow gorge, the local’s transports will take (30-45 min) the group to the town of Zumbagua and from there on to Quilotoa’s crater lake (3900 m). Quilotoa is a known tourist attraction in Ecuador, due to its great location and the perfect round shape of the crater and the deep green colour of the lake inside the crater. The place is very relaxed and perfect to enjoy a cold beer watching the sunset, with the Ilinizas in the background.
Night in local hostel.
Ascent: 393 m / Descent: 766 m / Highest Altitude: 4466 m / Activity duration: 6 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 7

Trekking: Chugchilan town (3198 m) – End of trek
About 8 AM the hike starts walking around about a third of the crater by a spectacular trail on the crater’s rim (4020 m). With clear skies the view is incredible towards the distant Cotopaxi and Illinizas volcanoes, the lake at the bottom of the crater, the Western valley and Guayama town. From the rim, the path descends into the Guayama valley and follows a series of trails and dirt roads until the Toachi River gorge (2995 m). This last section is quite steep following a old trail to the river crossing, where a short hike will lead up to the town of Chugchilan (3198 m), where the transport will be waiting to drive by a different road back too Machachi.
Night at mountain lodge
Ascent: 203 m / Descent: 1025 m / Highest Altitude: 4020 m / Activity duration: 5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 8

Climb: North Iliniza Volcano (5126 m)
This morning’s goal is to climb the North Ilinza, one of the twin summits of the Iliniza massive. The north summit is the easier of the two from a technical point of view, but still a demanding physical ascent. The climb starts after a 1 hour transfer from the mountain lodge up to the parking place located at 3680 meters. From here, the group will follow a trail by the “paramo” (Andean highland), which changes as it gains altitude into a rocky moraine. The terrain gets steeper reaching a well marked ridge that ascend to a valley that divides the twin peaks and where the Nuevos Horizontes hut (4677 m) is located. After a short break at the hut, the hike continues towards the col and then up to the north. The climb in it self is very panoramic, as it follows the southern ridge of the mountain with spectacular landscapes on both sides. During the ascent there will be short easy scrambling sections before reaching the summit. Depending on the weather conditions and the physical shape of the team, the descent can be done by the same trail or following the northern ridge, down a big scree area making it into a circular route. Back at the parking place, the team will be transferred back to the mountain lodge.
Night in the mountain lodge.
Ascent: 1266 m / Descent: 1266 m / Highest altitude: 5126 m / Activity duration: 7-9 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 9

Rest day
After several days activity, today the idea is to recover and enjoy the lovely surrounding of Machahi. According to the day of the week, there is the option to visit one of the local markets or drive around and see the neighboring towns and landscapes. Later in the day the group will be transfer to Cotopaxi National Park to a mountain refuge at the foot of the volcano.
Night in mountain refuge.
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10

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 11

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 back to Quito (3 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 12

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

ECU-10a – To request prices, please click on the BOOK TRIP bottom on the right sidebar and fill the information.


  • Local English speaking mountain guide during the entire program
  • Local English speaking assistant mountain guide during the entire program from 5 PAX
  • Private transportation throughout the entire program
  • 3 nights in shared double rooms in hotels in the city of Quito
  • 4 nights in shared double rooms in the town of Machachi
  • 1 night in shared double rooms in the town of Quilotoa
  • 1 night in shared dormitory at Cotopaxi’s high mountain hut – Jose Rivas
  • Entry fee to the National parks and natural reserves
  • Entry fees to museums and sights mentioned in the program
  • Quality mountain tents – 2 people per tent during the trek
  • Group common campsite equipment
  • Porters and mule/horses for group campsite equipment and personal equipment
  • Climbing assistant guides: for Pasochoa ratio 1:5, for Iliniza ratio: 1:4 and for Cotopaxi ratio: 1:2
  • Cook during the trek
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary


  • Domestic and 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

QUITO: Hostal Fuente de Piedra 1 & 2 or similar

MACHACHI: Hacienda La Estacion or similar

QUILOTOA: Local hostel (no website)

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

Tags: Climbing, Ecuador, Angamarca, Cotopaxi, Iliniza, Pasochoa, F, F grade, 12