Ecuador – 5 Volcano Challenge

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Imagine an area roughly 100 miles by 100 miles that stretches from the ocean to snow-capped mountains. Now fill it with Earth’s greatest diversity of life per square mile. Add layers of forest and jungle, then sprinkle it with volcanoes. Mix in nearly a dozen distinct languages and cultures. And now connect many of these attractions with trails and lodges that combine scenery, culture and comfort. This is adventure travel in Ecuador.

On this trip, we will summit four volcanic peaks above 13,000’ in elevation, one of them above 15,600’. These are non-technical- but challenging- climbs, giving trekkers in good condition access to high alpine adventure while sleeping in wonderful lodges and exploring fascinating ancient cultures. We will also climb to the snowline of volcano Cotopax near 17,000ft, catching breathtaking views of this 19,347’ peak.

Trekking and climbing in Ecuador is a window into a high, historic and beautiful place. It mixes adventure with modern comfort in a destination that is a little off the usual travel routes, meaning this special Embark adventure is one you won’t want to miss.


Trip Highlights

  • Explore the volcanic highlands of Ecuador on foot
  • Challenge your lungs and your legs as you tackle 5 high elevation peaks
  • Traverse on the slopes of Volcano Cotopaxi
  • Take in the grandeur of the Andes with jaw-dropping views far and wide that can only be seen from each of these volcanoes

Trip Summary

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Day 1
Arrive Quito

Ecuador’s capital city bears two interesting distinctions: it is the highest above sea level (9,350’) and also the closest to the Equator. Upon arrival, you will be met by our representatives and escorted to your hotel in the historic center of Quito. The rest of the day is free to explore the city.

Day 2
Tour Quito and Group Briefing

Our journey begins in Colonial Quito, a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls and, rising above, the steeples and cupolas of the city’s many historic churches. Quito has one of the best preserved colonial centers in all of South America; its integrity was assured in 1978 when Quito became one of the first two cities in the world (along with Krakow, Poland) to be declared a UNESCO World Culture Heritage Site.
We walk through the Main Plaza, where you will see the Government Palace, the Cathedral, and some of the most important churches built around the 16th and 17th Centuries, including the monastery of San Francisco, which started five days after the founding of the city in 1534. We will also visit La Ronda Street, where we will learn about the traditional jobs in Colonial Quito. We will also sample one of the country’s most famous exports: chocolate. Ecuador’s unique equatorial climate provides the perfect environment for growing the world’s finest cocoa- Cacao Arriba. Cacao has been revered in Latin America for over 5,000 years. Spanish explorers loved it so much they called it the “Food of the Gods.” We will explore the history of Ecuadorian cacao and have a chocolate tasting to top off our day. Group briefing with your guiding staff at the hotel this evening.

Day 3
Rucu Pichincha Volcano

After a brief ride on a Teleferico (cable car) from Quito to an elevation of 12,900’, we take a straightforward climb of 4-6 hours to Rucu Pichincha, a 15,696-foot volcano visible from Quito. This will be a good acclimatization day to prepare us for our coming adventures in the Andes, and if the weather is clear we will have world- class views of the famous “Avenue of Volcanoes”, a stretch of seven peaks above 17,000 feet in elevation. We overnight in a lodge just outside Otavalo, a small town around 8,000 feet elevation, famous for the textiles made by the indigenous people and sold at a local market we will visit.

Day 4
Fuya Fuya Volcano

After a short vehicle transfer to the beginning of the trail, We start with a scenic 20-minute drive from the lodge to the trailhead, located at the beautiful Mojanda Lakes, a caldera of three lakes formed by the collapse of two ancient volcanoes some 165,000 years ago. The climb from the lakes up to Fuya Fuya (13,986’) is a straightforward 1.5-2hr ascent After the hike, we return to the lodge for the afternoon and evening.

Day 5
Climb Pasachoa Volcano

We take on our next peak today, the 13,776’ extinct volcano of Pasachoa. Our hike through virgin highland cloud forests and paramo grasslands will take approximately three hours to the summit. This is one of the best places to see the endangered Andean condor. From the summit we will have a spectacular view of the mountains sur- rounding Quito, the inspiring scenery of the Pasochoa crater, as well as the impressive surrounding mountain peaks : Antisana, Sincholagua, Quilindana, Cotopaxi, Ruminahui, Corazon and the twin Iliniza peaks. After our summit, our descent takes us to the Pita river canyon, through grasslands and low ‘Chaparro’ forests, ending at a mountain lodge situated at about 10,500 feet above sea level.

Day 6
Rest Day

No events planned for today

Day 7
Climb Volcano Ruminahui

The hike to the summit of triple-peaked Ruminahui (named after a famous Inca general and known as the park’s sentr) starts at the crystal clear Limpiopungo Lagoon, which often reflects Cotopaxi towering above. This hike will take us right into the heart of the paramo grasslands, passing small waterfalls before arriving at the scree fields and rock face below the summit. The climb highlights the grandeur of the Andes, offering views of the nearby peaks of Sincholagua as well as Cotopaxi and even Illinzas Norte.
On our descent we will pass through ‘the silent valley’ that follows the course of a number of small streams before returning to the stunning Limpiopungo Lake.

Day 8
On the Snowline- Cotopaxi

From the lodge we will drive in our private vehicle to the parking area of the Cotopaxi mountain refuge. We will then walk for approximately an hour before reaching the mountaineers’ lodge, and hike from there to the edge of the glacier, a walk of approximately two hours. From here, the northern side of the mountain offers a spectacular panorama. You will be able to identify (with the help of our guide) all of the ground we have covered since the first day of our adventure. From here we descend back down and transfer back to the outskirts of Quito for our final night in Ecuador.

Day 9

Transfer back to Quito in the morning for your departure.

Dates & Pricing


Double Occupancy
  • Jun 8
    Jun 16
    $2995 USD

Above Costs Include:

  • All international & domestic airport transfers by private vehicle according to the itinerary
  • All domestic transport by private vehicle
  • 3 nights accomodation in Quito & breakfasts while at the hotel
  • All park fees

Cost Does Not Include:

  • All meals not indicated on the itinerary
  • Airport transfers that fall outside of the itinerary dates
  • International and domestic airfare
  • Liability for expenses against sickness, flight can- cellation, road blockage, accidents and other occur- rence beyond our control

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