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Ecuador: Highlands & Cotopaxi Trails

10 Days & 9 Nights 5 Read 1 reviews
  • Hike through Ecuador's Avenue of the Volcanoes within the Andean Highlands and Cotopaxi National Park
  • Relax in Casa Mojanda's wood-burning hot tub after a scenic rim walk around Cuicocha Lake
  • Discover Cotopaxi National Park's expansive landscape as you trek to thatch-roofed mountain lodges
  • Explore the Pedregal Valley, ranked by The New York Times as a top place to visit
  • Visit Otavalo's local market for artisanal crafts and textiles on your way to family-run haciendas
Explore incredible volcano valleys, unique local culture and the vast colorful landscapes of Ecuador’s Andean Highlands and Cotopaxi National Park, staying at welcoming haciendas and cozy mountain lodges, for the ultimate Andean hiking adventure unlike any other. Upon arrival in Quito, enjoy a half-day city tour before heading to the Highlands to hike local trails around a crater lake, to Otavalo market and overnight family run-haciendas for an authentic Ecuadorian experience. Head to Cotopaxi National Park to trek through the Pedregal grasslands and along the Pita River for off-the-beaten path trails and spine-tingling views. Each night, relax within thatch-roofed mountain lodges where savory dinners and a welcoming staff await your arrival. Conclude your Andean journey on the slopes of the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano to reflect on the wonders of these unique regions and all your hiking accomplishments before returning back to Quito.
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This tour is perfect for regular hikers who want to explore the diverse landscape of Ecuador’s Andean Highlands and Cotopaxi National Park. This tour is graded moderate to challenging with an average of 4-8 hours of daily hiking on dirt trails and off-the-beaten paths to overnight haciendas or mountain lodges. For the fourth and eighth day, you will be supported by a guide. All other days are self-guided and supported by our tried and true Macs Navigation App and route notes to help you navigate.

Tour Style:

Private Guided | Alone or with your chosen companion(s), benefit from a private guide throughout most of your tour.


Multi Center Walking | You will spend multiple nights in one or more of the locations on this walking tour

This trip is suitable for:

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Elegance & Unique Stays
  • National Parks & Trails
  • Mountains

Activity Level & Terrain

This tour is graded moderate to challenging. Hiking is mostly on distinct dirt trails or double-track roads with moderate ascents and descents. On most days you will be walking between four to eight hours. To get the most from your trip, you should be in great physical condition and an experienced hiker accustomed to walking medium to long distances every day.

The Ecuadorian Highlands and Cotopaxi National Park are high-altitude regions, often above 8,000 feet. We have added extra time in Quito to help you acclimatize to this altitude and to minimize the likelihood of experiencing altitude sickness.


The Macs Adventure Navigation App is a great tool when navigating daily hiking routes. All daily routes with GPX tracks are available to download for use offline. Along with this app, you will also receive route notes and turn-by-turn directions in your pre-departure information pack. You will be provided with 24/7 telephone support from us here at Macs Adventure as well as telephone support from our local, English-speaking representative should you require assistance.


Whether a boutique hotel, a family-run hacienda or a cozy mountain lodge, we carefully hand-pick every accommodation while in Quito, the Andean Highlands and Cotopaxi National Park.

Extra Nights

You can easily request to add extras nights during this itinerary. For further details, please ask us at the time of booking.

Solo Travelers & Single Rooms

This trip is based on two people sharing a room. If you’d like separate rooms, a single supplement is required.

If you would like to request a twin room (same room with two separate beds), please notify us during booking so we can request this option.

This trip is not available to solo travelers.


Breakfast is served each morning and ranges from buffet-style to a set menu.

Six lunches and four dinners are included in this itinerary. Lunches range from a packed lunch while hiking remotely or served at your overnight accommodation. All dinners are served during your stay at overnight haciendas within the Andean Highlands and are produced directly from the organic garden and farm. Meal descriptions and inclusions are outlined within the pre-departure trip itinerary.

For all other meals or snacks, you can choose to dine at your hotel or from available nearby cafés or restaurants. Please notify us of dietary restrictions at the time of booking.

  • 9 Nights in boutique hotels and hand-selected accommodations
  • 9 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 4 Dinners
  • All private transfers per the itinerary
  • English-speaking tours and guides per the itinerary
  • Door-to-door luggage drop-offs
  • Pre-departure information pack
  • Macs Adventure Navigation App with directions
  • Route notes
  • 24/7 telephone support from our office and our local representative
  • International flights
  • All other meals, drinks and snacks
  • Additional nights before, during or after the trip
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities and tips
  • Extra Nights in Quito, Otavalo, San Pablo del Lago, Zuleta and Cotopaxi National Park
  • Room Upgrades (only where applicable)

When To Go

June to October are often the best times to go to Ecuador’s Northern Andes. This time period is during the dry season, where temperatures offer warmer weather and clearer skies.


This trip is available year-round. As these regions are popular destinations, with a large volume of travelers, we may at times have to substitute you with an alternative itinerary or location due to availability.

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized to ensure availability for specific dates.

Getting to the Start

Quito International Airport, based about an hour from Ecuador’s capital, has flights from international and national destinations and is a hub for exploring this beautiful country.

Getting from the End

Quito International Airport, based about an hour from Ecuador’s capital, has flights from international and national destinations and is a hub for exploring this beautiful country.

Luggage Transfer

We have arranged for your luggage to be transferred from your accommodation (as per your itinerary) and moved to your next overnight accommodation. Luggage will be picked up from the front desk or reception area around 10:00am each day and dropped off at that evening’s accommodation by 4:00pm. For consecutive overnights in the same accommodation, keep your luggage with you in your room. Please note that we have a luggage limit of 50 lbs. per person.

General Information

A private English-speaking guide is provided for the Quito city tour and when hiking from lodge-to-lodge through Otavalo and the Pedegral Valley. Join a guide on these days to gain in-depth local knowledge of significant sites, Ecuadorian culture and ecological features for a value-added experience.

All other hikes are self-guided and supported by the Macs Adventure Navigation App and route notes, so you can enjoy an independent, go-at-your-own-pace.

A daily guide is available to hike with you at all times if desired. Please let us know during the time of booking if you prefer this option.

Getting to/from the Highlands & Cotopaxi

Included in this trip is a transfer from downtown Quito to the Andean Highlands and to Cotopaxi National Park and back (approx. 2-3 hours). A private taxi will pick you up directly from your hotel and transfer you to your overnight hacienda and mountain lodge.

Getting Around

All transfers and vehicle services related to the itinerary are included in this trip. For additional transportation services outside the provided itinerary, such as a taxi to a specific restaurant or location, the host at your evening’s accommodation can help assist you in making the necessary arrangements.


Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before traveling to Ecuador.

For US and UK residents, proof of travel or health insurance and a valid passport for at least six months past the planned date of departure from Ecuador is required. Visas are not required unless you are planning to visit longer than 90 days. You may be asked about your reason for travel and provide evidence of a return or onward flight upon arrival.


Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard hiking gear such as good hiking boots, lightweight clothes, warm layers, water bottles, hats, sunscreen, rain gear, camera and a day pack.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip. For more information, please visit our travel insurance page by clicking this link.

Drinking Water
How does the luggage transfers work?
What happens if I can’t hike a section?
What do I do if I become ill during my trip?


Day 1 Arrive Quito Day 2 Quito City Tour and Transfer Day 3 Hike Cuicocha Crater Lake 8 miles / 12.5 km Day 4 Explore Otavalo and Local Culture 4 miles / 6.5 km Day 5 San Pablo del Lago to Zuleta 5.5 miles / 9 km Day 6 Explore Hacienda Zuleta Day 7 Transfer and Hike the Pita River 8.6 miles / 13.8 km Day 8 Hike the Pedegral Valley 11 miles / 18 km Day 9 Cotopaxi Snow Line and Transfer to Quito 8 miles / 13 km Day 10 Onward Travel

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