- Discover Cotopaxi National Park's extensive tracks and trails
- Hike through Andean volcano valleys to rustic mountain lodges
- Climb up to the snow line on Cotopaxi Volcano for stunning panoramic views
- Stargaze near wood-burning stoves and firepits at the cozy Chilcabamba Lodge
- Explore Pedregal Valley, ranked by The New York Times as a top place to visit
Strap on your boots for a week of hiking adventure, exploring Cotopaxi National Park and its Andean volcano valleys, while staying at comfortable mountain lodges.
Upon arrival in Quito, explore the city’s historical sites with an easy half-day walking tour. Head to Cotopaxi National Park to trek through the Pedregal grasslands and along the Pita River for off-the-beaten path experiences 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 this unique protected region.
Day 1: Arrive Quito
Upon arrival to Quito International Airport, a private taxi will take you to your colonial hotel located within the historic district of old town Quito (approx. 1 hour).
Quito, Ecuador’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the perfect introduction to Ecuador’s rich culture and history. Sitting high in the Andean foothills at an altitude of 9,350 feet, this once-ancient Incan city is now the country’s bustling epicenter, boasting 2.6 million people. With its well-preserved colonial center, tourists and locals alike enjoy roaming the city’s narrow streets for a mix of 16th century historic attractions, modern-day shops and upscale restaurants.
Day 2: Quito City Tour
Start acclimatizing to Ecuador’s high altitude with an easy half-day walking tour of Quito’s historic sites. Your guide will greet you for a morning stroll through the Main Plaza, where you will see the Government Palace, La Compañía, San Francisco Monastery, and some of the oldest and most important sites built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Shift from sights to smells with a cocoa tour and chocolate tasting at the Republica del Cacao, a producer of the world’s finest chocolate. The final stop will be the tour of “Panecillo” where you will admire the famous statue of Our Lady of the Panecillo and spectacular views of Quito.
Take the rest of the afternoon to relax, enjoy a spa treatment or explore on your own.
Quito City Tour: 4 Hours
Day 3: Transfer & Hike the Pita River
This morning, take a private transfer to Cotopaxi National Park and your overnight mountain lodge (approx. 3 hours). After lunch, grab your daypack and water for a delightful out-and-back afternoon hike. Enjoy a gradual downhill from the lodge into the valley known as the Pedregal and along the Pita River before reaching the base of the waterfall “Cascada Fuego.” Explore the waterfall and the river’s rushing waters from the glacier snowmelt of the nearby Cotopaxi Volcano before heading back the same way you came. Discover the humid Andean forests, birds, fish species and wildlife that frequent the area, as you hike back to the lodge.
Hike: 7.6 miles (+568/-558ft., 4.5 Hours)
Overnight: Chilcabamba Lodge
Day 4: Hike the Pedregal Valley
Join your guide for a hike through the Pedregal Valley, one of the most pure and protected areas of Ecuador. Known for its natural beauty, this region was ranked by the New York Times as one of the top 52 places to explore in 2017. Enjoy a gentle walk along the Pita River, a main water source for Ecuador, as you trek towards the archaeological site of Pucara de Salitre. Serving as a great place for lunch, keep your eyes peeled for wild horses, llamas, wildflowers, condors and a variety of Andean bird life. Hike onward to the thatched-roof mountain lodge of Tambopaxi, where peaceful casitas, delicious local cuisine and mountain climbers happily await.
Hike: 11 miles (+1233 ft./-323ft., 6 hours)
Overnight: Tambopaxi Lodge
Day 5: Cotopaxi Snow Line & Transfer to Quito
Today, warm up your legs with a morning hike to Limpiopungo, a pristine lake at the base of Rumiñahui mountain. Follow the dirt trail for a mile loop around the lake for stunning views of Cotopaxi Volcano. From Limpiopungo, meet your driver for a transfer to Cotopaxi’s vehicle parking lot to take the exhilarating hike up the sandy hillside to the mountaineers Refugio. Enjoy a hot chocolate and boxed lunch before continuing the steady ascent up to the snow line at 5,000 meters (16,427 ft.) above sea level. Touch the edge of the glacier and soak up the panoramic views of the surrounding valley, looking down on your week’s hiking accomplishments!
Follow the same route as you descend back down to meet your driver for a transfer back to Quito.
Hike: Tambopaxi Lodge to Lago Limpiopungo: 5.5 miles (+476/-90ft., 2.5 hours)
Hike: Hike to Cotopaxi’s Snow Line: 2.5 miles (+1329,-1348ft., 1.5 Hours)
Day 6: Onward Travel
Depending on your travel arrangements you may have time to relax in the morning or visit your favorite spots in old town Quito before journeying onward.
It is possible to extend your stay within Cotopaxi National Park with hiking options that are of longer durations, steeper ascents or to summit mountain peaks.
Add on to your Cotopaxi adventure with a trip to the Andean Highlands or the nearby Amazon Rainforest. To add on another tour, or for more information, please contact us here at Macs Adventure and a specialist will be happy to help assist you.
This trip includes overnights at converted colonial homes or boutique
hotels while in Quito and at cozy mountain lodges while in Cotopaxi
National Park. We book standard rooms that provide comfort and modern
amenities. While each overnight differs in style, each offers excellent
food, individual character and unique charm.
Cotopaxi National Park is a year-round destination with a large
volume of travelers. As such, we may at times have to accommodate you at
alternative locations due to availability. We regularly use the
following properties but will accommodate lodging of equal standard
should any of the following be unavailable.
Solo Hikers & 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 for solo hikers.
Breakfast is included each morning and ranges from a set menu or a la
carte. A typical breakfast includes juice, tea, coffee, yogurt,
granola, breads, jams, eggs or a selection of hot dishes. Please notify
us of dietary restrictions at the time of booking.
Three lunches are included in this trip and consist of two packed lunches
for when you are hiking in the national park and one at the Chilcabamba
lodge upon arrival. Dinners and all other lunches are not included in
the trip so you can choose to dine at your hotel or mountain lodge.
You can easily request to add extras nights during this itinerary. For further details, please ask us at the time of booking.
Hotel Patio Andaluz
Located in a colonial style house from the late 16th century, this elegant boutique hotel is just a five-minute walk from the renowned Plaza Grande or Plaza de la Independencia, and to many of the museums, churches and historical sites of Colonial Quito.
Built from local materials, Chilcabamba is welcoming, unpretentious and charming. Lodge rooms are equipped with a wood burning stove to keep you warm at night, along with ponchos and thick duvets to keep off the mountain chill. The main lodge is welcoming, with cozy nooks to relax, books to curl up with, and stunning views of Cotopaxi.
Under the majesty of the Cotopaxi Volcano and surrounded by five other volcanoes, lies Tambopaxi. This mountain ecolodge is a comfortable and hospitable place, ready to welcome a great variety of guests coming from all over the world in search of adventure, sports, well-being or relaxation.
Delightfully secluded, The Casa Aliso is well known to experienced travelers who want to be near everything but desire a quieter atmosphere. This lovely house is located in the fashionable residential neighborhood of La Floresta, a few steps away from the rush of the city.
This trip is available year-round. We suggest you book as soon as
your plans are finalized to ensure availability for specific dates.
When To Go?
The best time to visit Cotopaxi National Park is from July to
October, during the dry season, for optimal weather conditions and for
clearer views of Cotopaxi Volcano.
November to February is also recommended, although rain showers do
happen on occasion. March to April are considered the rainy months and
consist of daily rain showers and cloudy skies.
A private English-speaking guide is provided for the
Quito city tour and on the fourth day when hiking from lodge-to-lodge
through the Pedregal Valley. Join a guide to gain in-depth local knowledge of
significant sites within Quito and ecological features within Cotopaxi
All other hikes are self-guided and supported by the Macs Adventure
Navigation App and route notes, so you can enjoy an independent,
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.
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.
Experience, Fitness & Grade
The route is graded moderate. The hiking is mostly through
grasslands, on dirt double-tracks or up sandy hills with moderate to
steep ascents and descents. On most days you will be walking between
four and six hours. To get the most from your trip, you should be in
good physical condition and an experienced hiker that is accustomed to
walking medium to long distances every day.
Cotopaxi National Park is a high-altitude region, ranging from
11,000-17,000 feet. We have added extra time in Quito and easier hikes
within the national park to help you acclimatize to this altitude and to
minimize the likelihood of experiencing altitude sickness. As always,
we recommend taking your time or adding on an extra day to help avoid
any problems related to altitude sickness.
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 and a day pack.
If you have any questions about what to take, we'd be happy to share our own top tips and advice.
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.
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
Getting to/from Quito
The best airport to arrive at is Quito International Airport, which has flights from international and national destinations.
By Private Taxi
Included in this trip is a private transfer from the airport to your overnight hotel in Quito. A private taxi will pick you up directly from Quito International Airport outside the arrivals exit, after passing through customs, baggage claim and security, and will drop you off at your overnight hotel (approx. 1 hour).
Depending on your travel plans at the end of your trip, you can add a private transfer from Quito back to the airport if desired (additional costs apply).
Getting to/from Cotopaxi:
Included in this trip is a transfer from Quito 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 mountain lodge.
For additional transportation services outside the provided itinerary, such as a taxi to a specific location, the host at your evening’s accommodation can help assist you in making the necessary arrangements.
- 3 Nights in boutique hotels
- 2 Nights in mountain lodges
- 5 Breakfasts and 3 lunches
- Private transfer from Quito International Airport to downtown Quito
- Transfers to/from Cotopaxi National Park
- Quito city tour and Pedegral Valley guide
- Door-to-door luggage drop-offs
- Pre-departure information pack
- Route notes
- Macs Adventures Navigation App with directions
- 24/7 telephone support from our office
- Telephone support from our local, English-speaking representative
- International flights
- All other lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Additional nights before, during or after the trip
- Personal equipment
- Travel Insurance
- Gratuities and tips
- Extra Nights in Quito, Chilcabamba or Tambopaxi
- Private taxi from Quito to Quito International Airport
- Challenging hikes or extensions
- Single Room Supplement
- Room Upgrades (only where applicable)
- Twin Beds
Each accommodation will supply you with bottled water and opportunities to purchase more should you require it. While water from the faucets are often labeled safe for brushing your teeth, we recommend using only bottled or filtered water at all times to avoid any chance of contamination. Please plan on bringing bottled water, or better yet, invest in a water bottle with a built-in purification and filtration system (such as Grayl or Katadyn) with you during hikes and throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water helps with dehydration and the negative effects of altitude sickness.
How does the luggage transfers work?
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.
What happens if I can’t hike a section?
This itinerary allows for flexibility in the case that you become ill or are unable to hike. If you are unable to hike and need to avoid the entire route completely, inform your hotel immediately and have them assist you with a transfer to the next location or to add on an extra night. For days that you are staying within the same accommodation, enjoy taking a rest day and inform the hotel of anything you might need.
What do I do if I become ill during my trip?
If you need medical services, you'll find information in your pre-departure information packet or you can ask for assistance at the front desk. As always, 24/7 support from Macs Adventure is only a phone call away.
Free WiFi will be available for use at your overnight accommodations and mountain lodges. However, service can become spotty, rare or non-existent while hiking within Cotopaxi National Park. Even with WiFi available, we suggest playing it safe by keeping your phone in flight mode while surfing the internet to avoid costly data or roaming fees.