Climb the Volcanoes of Ecuador With Alpine Ascents

The people and the guides were absolutely awesome. I can’t say enough about the guides. They were the highest caliber I have ever climbed with. They did the best glacier and crevasse rescue overview I have done since my initial course. They showed patience and worked with everyone to help them understand techniques in the ways that made sense to them. —2020 Climber

Amazing! The lodging, bus, food, scenery, hosts, and guides were of the highest quality. Every aspect overdelivered. Many of our hosts, drivers, porters were warm and friendly. The accommodations were beautiful and comfortable. Even Stubel camp was comfortable and the soup was delicious with fresh ingredients (totally unexpected)! —2020 Climber
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Ecuador, the jewel of the Andes, is a paradise for the mountaineer. Perhaps nowhere else on earth does the combination of high mountains and easy accessibility exist. Over the last 20 years, we have developed what we consider to be the ultimate Ecuador climbing program. Our itinerary offers the best in acclimatization, cultural experience, and great accommodations — all while climbing the three most spectacular volcanoes in Ecuador: Cotopaxi(19,347 ft. / 5,897 m), Cayambe (18,993 ft. / 5,789 m), and Chimborazo (20,701 ft. / 6,310 m).

This trilogy of climbs is quite unique. Our most recent itinerary includes Cotopaxi and we are thrilled to have Cotopaxi back as part of this expedition. Cayambe has the special distinction of being the highest and coldest point on the Equator. This volcano is the only place on earth where the latitude and the temperature are both zero degrees. Chimborazo, the giant of Ecuador, offers challenging glacier climbing all the way to the summit and to the farthest point from the center of the Earth.

Alpine Ascents uses only expert guides. Our low climber-to-guide ratio (2:1 for Cotopaxi and Cayambe, and 1:1 for Chimborazo) translates into safer climbing and much higher summit success. Our gradual acclimatization itinerary gives us ample time to prepare for climbs, and our in-depth knowledge of the climbing routes allows us to ascend with great efficiency.

All of the lodging was lovely in different ways. My favorite was probably Tambopaxi lodge due to the wild animals, but I enjoyed each unique experience along the way. Our cook was very helpful and made us an unexpected hot meal of quinoa soup with fresh cheese and avocado before bed. The hot springs were also a great way to kick off the trip. The program was “mountaineering luxury” that let us rest up, enjoy our vacation, and keep the suffering limited to the climbs. We also got to see a lot of culture and have a bit of free time as we traveled the highlands. —2020 Climber

Between summit climbs we spend three nights in Quito, enjoying the cultural heritage and night life of the capital city. We also spend two nights in Papallacta, a beautiful private hot springs and spa, along with five more nights in beautiful mountain lodges close to our climbs. The ability to rest in comfort between our climbs and enjoy Ecuadorian hospitality throughout the trip makes Ecuador one of the most enjoyable places in the world to climb.

Our program is also flexible for those who do not have enough time to complete the entire 16-day trip. There is a 12-day program that adds Cayambe as a second climb.

Alpine Ascents also offers excursions to the Galapagos, the Amazon rainforest, and to a magnificent hacienda for horseback riding, biking, and hiking. These are a great way to have the rest of the family join in or just relax after the climb. Contact us for details.


Climbers should have successfully completed our 6 Day, 8 Day, 9 Day, 10 Day, 12 Day, or 13 Day training courses, or have equivalent skills and experience. Those who had a strong performance on a 3-Day Baker or Rainier climb may also join. Climbers must have basic knowledge of progression on snow and ice, self-arrest, and glacier travel. Snow and ice slopes are of moderate angle (up to 45 degrees). These requirements are also based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.

Contact Gordon Janow for a private program for those with no climbing experience.

Climbing Skill Level

We require prior mountaineering experience, including experience with an ice axe, crampons, and glacier travel. During the expedition, we will spend a full day on Cotopaxi doing a glacier climbing skills review. This is a chance to improve your alpine mountaineering skills while climbing at high altitude.

Galapagos Island Tours

You have not visited Ecuador unless you have seen the enchanted Islands. Perhaps this statement sounds a bit strong, as our climbers share our love and enthusiasm for climbing Ecuador’s mighty volcanoes, but it is true enough considering the unique nature of Galapagos. Famed land of the pirates and the endemic species explored by Charles Darwin, a trip to Galapagos after your climbs will complete your Ecuadorian experience.

Alpine Ascents has teamed up with local experts to seamlessly transition you from climber to naturalist in order to explore the great Islands. With small and large boat choices and a host of other options, we invite you to explore our Ecuador extension.

Prices for these journeys range from $2,000–$4,000 per person, based on boat size and length of journey —
with additional park and domestic flight fees. Please find a sample itinerary below. We look forward to organizing the right journey for your budget following your Volcanoes of Ecuador expedition.

Inquiries to: [email protected]

Napo Wildlife Center

Napo Wildlife Center is the most luxurious lodge in Ecuador’s Amazon, and it is 100% community-owned. It is part of an environmental project that conserves 82 square miles of pristine lowland rainforest. The lodge itself is beautiful, with local architecture, hardwood floors, and well-considered amenities. Nearby, blinds built at parrot clay licks bring the action to you: a 120-foot canopy tower deep in the forest allows visitors to experience life above the forest floor. The natural attractions in Amazonian Ecuador are simply unmatched.

Location and access: Napo Wildlife center is located in the Orellana province, two hours by canoe from Coca. To get to Napo Wildlife Center, guests fly by jet from Quito to the town of Coca (officially known as Francisco de Orellana) on the Napo River. After a short drive from the airport to the dock, we board a large, motorized, covered canoe for a scenic two-hour trip down the Napo River. Upon arriving at the entrance to the NWC Reserve, we switch to smaller, dugout canoes in which we will be paddled up Blackwater Creek to the lake and lodge (no motorized transport is allowed on the creek or lake so that wildlife isn’t disturbed).


Most of the walks will take place on firm forest land. This pleasant activity will give us the opportunity to feel the forest floor. Here, the assembly of the forest, the sounds, scents, colors, and sometimes wildlife activity, will amuse us. Long, short, or medium length walks can be arranged depending on your preference. During all of these walks, we will be accompanied by a native guide who will introduce to us the secrets of medicinal plants and their applications. If you are interested in insects and frogs, we recommend the walks in the forest at night.

Price per person in double room: $1,300.00

Price includes:

  • Accommodation
  • All meals while at Napo Wildlife Center
  • Transportation from the airport in Coca to Napo Wildlife Center and vice versa
  • All excursions with a native guide and a bilingual naturalist guide
  • Entrance fee to the Yasuni National Park
  • Rain ponchos
  • Rubber boots

Price does not include:

  • Flight Quito – Coca – Quito (approximately $ 170 per person)
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses


The Main Hall
Meals are served in the central structure, or main hall, of Napo Wildlife Center. This main hall also offers several comfortable social areas — including a full-stocked bar, reading lounge (where we may conduct briefings), and a 20-foot high observation tower that provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding wilderness. There is a short trail that runs behind this building — very popular for evening strolls when busy nocturnal creatures come to life. A combination of the main hall’s location and the traditional openness of Kichwa architecture make it comfortable even during the heat of midday.

Napo Wildlife Center: the most luxurious lodge in Ecuador’s Amazon:
This lodge consists of 16 luxury cabañas and a large dining hall with a library and a well-stocked bar. Attached to the bar is a 50-ft. viewing tower from which you can see the Andes on a clear day. The rooms are huge (over 450 sq. ft.), always clean, and include:

  • One king-sized bed and one twin-sized bed (up to 3 people)
  • Safety deposit box in each room
  • Private bathrooms with on-demand hot water showers
  • Private porches with lake views
  • 24-hour electricity with plenty of lights and plenty of 120v outlets
  • Ceiling fans and secure screens for plenty of bug-free ventilation

Comfort & Amenities


Napo Wildlife Center was built on a particularly privileged lakeside location, providing a refreshing breeze, wonderful scenic views as well as a relatively bug-free environment. The main hall and all cabins are equipped with high electric ceiling fans (cabins also with high quality screens).

Running water

We utilize the lake’s water for the bathrooms at the Lodge. The water is clean and safe for use, as it undergoes a wetland wastewater treatment system of the highest caliber to avoid lake pollution. Drinkable water is always available in big plastic containers so you can refill your own bottles. The idea is to use the least amount of plastic possible. Hot water is available at all times.


Our 24-hour library offers a wide variety of books from Natural history, biology, conservation, literature as well as magazines and scientific reports. We suggest not to take books to your rooms so all guests have the opportunity to enjoy them.


You have the possibility of shopping for souvenirs, as well as personal care items and useful accessories at the lodge boutique. Handicrafts are also sold at the interpretation center’s gift shop located at the first clay lick.


Internet service is always available at the lodge at a reasonable price for guests use at anytime. This will be added to your bill.


The Napo Wildlife Center has a two-way radio (vhf and hf) that connects the Lodge, our office in Quito, our office in Coca and all the facilities. Mobile service can sometimes reach Añangu.

First Aid

We provide first aid kits for eventualities during excursions; our excursion leaders have basic medical training to help in case of an emergency.


Register your rare or uncommon sightings together with your naturalist guides, so future guests can appreciate the wide biodiversity of the Amazon.

Dietary requests

For vegetarian or special diet requests, please contact the lodge manager; anything can be arranged.

Laundry Service

In your room you will find a white bag and form to be filled out. A reasonably priced laundry service will be added to your bar bill.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the skill level of this climb?

Climbers should have successfully completed any of the following Alpine Ascents Beginner Mountaineering Courses: Cascades 6 Day training course, Alaska or Rainier 8 Day, Alaska 12 Day, Cascades 13 Day, or have equivalent skills and experience. Those who had a strong performance on a 3 Day Baker or Rainier climb may also join. Climbers must have basic knowledge of progression on snow and ice, self-arrest, crevasse rescue, and glacier travel. Snow and ice slopes are moderate (up to 45 degrees). During the expedition, we will spend three days on the glaciers reviewing skills, a requirement based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.

What is the physical conditioning level needed for this climb?

Climbers must be in very good to excellent physical condition. Summit day can be 10 hours long on Cayambe and 12 hours long on Chimborazo.

Any tips on how a climber can maximize their chances of success?

Along with the required crampon skills, review cardio training on the Training page of our web site. This climb generally boasts 100% success. Acclimatization will be the key to successfully and safely achieving the main goals of this expedition. We strongly recommend following the advice of our guides to acclimatize properly: try to improve your crampon skills, especially for Chimborazo.

Who is the guiding team composed of (How many guides? Climber-to-guide ratio?)

The expedition leader will be Jose Luis Peralvo and he will have as many assistant guides as necessary to ensure a low climber-to-guide ratio.

What is the best season to climb / which dates will have the most chance for success?

Ecuador has two climbing seasons: June through August (although it is often windy, August being the windiest month), and November through February (which is considered the best season for climbing in Ecuador). Cayambe creates its own microclimate and has the highest number of clear days of the Ecuadorian mountains, and can be climbed year-round. For safety reasons, and to increase our chance for success, it is very important to climb the Ecuadorian volcanoes at night. Snow conditions are better and safer, and the weather tends to be more stable and clear during the night and early morning.

How many climbers are on this expedition?

Generally, our maximum for this climb is nine climbers, plus guides.

Will I be sharing a tent or lodging with other climbers?

You will not be sharing a tent. Lodging for this expedition is in hotels or old haciendas converted to hostelries and mountain huts.

How much will my pack weigh?

On summit day climbers carry approximately 20 lbs.

What gear will I need?

Please review the Gear List.

How does your gear rental system work?

Those requesting rental gear must submit an expedition rental form with payment by fax or mail. All rental gear will be mailed to the climber prior to the climb. Climbers are expected to clean all rental gear and return it to us by mail following the expedition.

Any further advice on gear and using your gear list?

We recommend that you get a pair of anti-balling plates for your crampons. These useful devices are made of a special type of rubber that prevent crampons from balling up in soft snow conditions. There are different types depending on the model of crampons and brand, so please make sure to get the right anti-balling plates for the crampons you have.
While all items are required, there may be times when some of the items on the Gear List may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The Gear Lists are created by the guides to assist in preparing climbers to summit in any conditions.

While it is impossible for us to list all brands for certain gear, we do offer a wide variety of equipment in our Gear Shop, that has been handpicked by our staff of mountaineering experts. Please feel free to call our offices with any gear questions or substitutes. Plastic boots are required for this climb.

How is drinking water treated?

There will be bottled water available while staying in hotels, haciendas, and during the first two acclimatization hikes. In the mountains, we will boil all water. Boiling water for several minutes will kill anything that can live at the altitude the huts are located. Mountain huts are supplied with clean glacier-melt water.

What will the meals on the expedition be like?

Meals in the mountains consist of a diet rich in carbohydrates, both because our bodies do not process fat and protein efficiently at higher elevations, and to compensate for the increase in caloric need that high-altitude climbing involves. We try to make meals and breakfast varied and as normal as possible. There are a wide selection of meals available in the restaurants of hotels and haciendas we will stay on this trip.

Can I bring some food from home?

You may bring power bars, Gu, Power Gel, cereal bars, or similar high-energy foods. We also recommend powder Gatorade to fight dehydration. Alpine Ascents provides all meals on this expedition.

Are there any innoculation requirements?

No requirements at this time.

When should I book my flight? Do I need to use your Travel Agent?

Fares are generally less expensive when booked early. You may use our travel agent (Charles Mulvehill 1-800-727-2157) or book flights yourself. Please note that flights booked online are often difficult to change. Please send us a copy of your flight schedule as early as possible, as this allows us to book pick-ups and hotels.

What time should I arrive and leave and where do I meet the guides?

Your guide or an Alpine Ascents representative will meet you at the airport. Look for a large Alpine Ascents sign.

What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra night lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?

We are happy to make arrangements such as personalized tours, extra hotels rooms, airport pickups, and arrange for private rooms. Please indicate that you would like a private room on your application and we will contact you with information on single-room supplement costs (for hotels only).

Are there any entry or Visa requirements?

The personnel at the airport immigration department in Quito will ask you how long you plan to stay. After your answer they will give you a 30-, 60-, or 90-day tourist visa. Please make sure your passport has at least six months of validity left.

Is there any communication while we are on the mountain?

In the cities and in hotels, telephones are readily available. Cell service is available in most towns and there is sporadic coverage on the mountain. Our guides also carry a satellite phone.

Where can I get more information on history, books, and additional activities in the region?

Check the Reading List on the Ecuador page of the web site.

Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?

You can always call our offices and we will have our Ecuadorian lead guide contact you. Thirty days prior to departure we will mail a list of the other team members to you.

How much should I budget for this expedition? How much cash should I plan to bring?

At least $500 should easily cover any extra expenses and tips. Most climbers prefer to bring about $1,000 and credit cards.

How much should I tip my guide and staff?

Guides are permitted to accept — and greatly appreciate — tips. Tipping guidelines will be outlined in your confirmation package.

How do I register for this expedition?

You may submit an application online or call our offices with a credit card or mail/fax an application with a check or credit card number.

What paperwork do I need to send in?

Each climber should submit an application online application and flight information.

When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you accept?

We accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, personal checks, and Alpine Ascents gift certificates. To reserve a space the deposit is $700.00 and balances are due 120 days prior to departure. Unpaid balances can result in forfeiture of trip.

What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?

The easy access to the high mountains in Ecuador makes not difficult an early departure. If for any reason you need to depart early, our guides and local staff will assist in obtaining the necessary transportation and reservations to get you home as quickly as possible.

Reading List

This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to with reviews.

by Yossi Brain
Ecuador Climbing and Hiking Guide
by Rob Rachowiecki, Mark Thurber

Ecuador Climbing School

Not just a fantastic place to climb but a perfect environment to gain climbing skills, Alpine Ascents offers private courses (which include summit climbs) in Ecuador.

Please contact Program Director Gordon Janow for details.

Besides Colorado 14ers, I have only climbed twice, with Alpine Ascents in Chamonix and again in Ecuador. Both trips were excellent. Ecuador guides were really great. Safety awareness was always evident.


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