Itinerary

Expedition Itinerary

100% yes, it was a wonderful experience of a lifetime. Beautiful mountains, impeccably planned itinerary allowing for optimal acclimatization, superb organization and logistics and top notch guiding!

Day 1

Arrival in the capital city of Quito. Quito lies on a long and narrow Andean valley surrounded by high volcanoes at an elevation of 2,850 m/9,350 ft. Our guide will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you to the hotel.

  • Altitudes: Quito: 2,850 m/9,350 ft.
  • Travel times: Airport – Hotel: 45 min
  • Accommodations: Hotel
  • Internet Access: Wifi with PIN. There are also computers available at the business center
  • Cell Phone signal: Yes

Day 2

City Tour of Quito.

We will spend the day sightseeing in Quito. The northern capital for the Incas, Quito is considered one of the most beautiful of all South American capital cities with its well-preserved colonial architecture and mild climate. We will visit the old town of Quito, which has been declared a World Heritage by the UNESCO. Here we can acclimatize to the local altitude while taking an easy walk through narrow streets and historic squares, admiring the old colonial churches and houses. Before returning to our hotel, we will enjoy a great view of Quito from the top of the El Panecillo hill. This day is an important foundation for our acclimatization. We will also have a thorough equipment check and orientation, including discussion of Leave No Trace practices. Overnight stay in Quito.

  • Altitudes: Quito: 2,850 m/9,350 ft.
  • Travel times: Hotel – old town: 30 min; Old town – Hotel: 30 min
  • Accommodations: Hotel with WiFi and cell phone signal

Day 3

Pasochoa Climb – Papallacta.

Easy access from Quito makes Pasochoa (4,199 m/13,776 ft.) a great acclimatization hike. Our private bus will take us up to an altitude of 3,595 m/11,794 ft. From there we will start our three-hour hike to the top of this ancient volcano, where we will see three of the highest snow-capped Ecuadorian mountains: Cotopaxi, Antizana, and Cayambe. Two hours later we will return to the bus and drive to the most beautiful hot springs spa in Ecuador, Termas Papallacta. Papallacta has private hot pools in front of every room that are filled daily with perfectly clear hot water from their natural hot springs. The spa is also available for massages at very reasonable prices. We spend the rest of the evening enjoying a great dinner and relaxing in the pools. Overnight at Papallacta.

  • Altitudes: Mettler parking land: 3,595 m/11,794 ft.
    Summit Pasochoa: 4,199 m/ 13,776 ft.
    Termas Papallacta: 3,300 m/10,827 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 604 m/1,981 ft.
  • Vertical gain of sleeping altitude: 450 m/1,477 ft.
  • Travel times: Hotel – Mettler parking land: 1 hour
    Mettler parking land – Papallacta: 2 hours
  • Hiking/climbing times: Mettler parking land – Summit Pasochoa: 3 hours
    Summit Pasochoa – Mettler parking land: 2 hours
  • Accommodation: Resort with Wi-Fi and cell signal

Day 4

Acclimatization Hike, Parcacocha Lake. Papallacta.

We will take an acclimatization hike through a beautiful group of mountain lakes up onto the high ridges surrounding Papallacta. This hike has excellent views of Lake Parcacocha, the surrounding valleys. After our hike, we head back to Termas Papallacta for a fine dinner and another evening an the spa.

  • Altitudes: Termas Papallacta: 3,300 m/10,827 ft.
    Trailhead: 3,733 m/12,247 ft.
    Parcacocha Lake: 4,069 m/13,350 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 336 m/1,103 ft.
  • Travel times: Termas Papallacta – Trailhead 20 min
  • Hiking/Climbing time trailhead – Parcacocha Lake: 3–4 hours
  • Accommodations: Resort with Wi-Fi and cell signal

Day 5

Termas de Papallacta – Cayambe. Hike to Antennas Peak. Overnight at Yanacocha Lodge.

We will do a short acclimatization hike from the Papallacta High Pass to the top of the Antennas Peak (4,391 m/14,406 ft.) with great views of Antisana, Cayambe, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. Then we travel to the foot of Cayambe and check-in at the Yanacocha Lodge. This recently inaugurated lodge is located in the Andean grasslands with a fantastic view of Cayambe.

  • Altitudes: Papallacta High Pass: 4,065 m/ 13,336 ft.
    Antennas Peak: 4,391 m/14,406 ft.
    Yanacocha Lodge: 3,652 m/11,982 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 326 m/1,070 ft.
  • Vertical gain of sleeping elevation: 352 m/1,155 ft.
  • Travel times: Termas Papallacta – Yanacocha Lodge: 3 hours
  • Hiking/Climbing times: Papallacta High Pass – Antennas Peak: 2 hours
  • Accommodation: Yanacocha Lodge with Wi-Fi and cell signal

Day 6

Glacier training. Overnight at Yanacocha Lodge.

After breakfast we travel by four-wheel drive up to the Cayambe Hut. From here we hike for an hour up to the glacier for a climbing skills review and to acclimatize. That evening we return to the Yanacocha Lodge for dinner.

  • Altitudes: Yanacocha Lodge: 3,652 m/11,982 ft.
    Cayambe Hut: 4,658 m/15,282 ft.
    Cayambe Glacier: 4,898 m/16,070 ft.
  • Vertical gain during the day: 1,246 m/4,088 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 240 m/788 ft.
  • Travel times: Yanacocha Lodge – Cayambe Hut: 1 hour
  • Hiking/Climbing times: Cayambe Hut – Glacier: 1 hour
    Glacier – Cayambe Hut: 40 min.
  • Accommodation: Yanacocha Lodge with Wi-Fi and cell signal

Day 7

Move up to the Cayambe Hut. Preparation for the climb to Cayambe Hut.

Today we will move up to the Cayambe Hut, which is situated on the southern slopes of Cayambe and has fantastic views of “Glaciar Hermoso.” Once at the hut, we spend the day planning the climb and preparing our gear. We will head to bed early so that we are well-rested for an early departure on the summit climb.

  • Altitudes: Yanacocha Lodge: 3,652 m/11,982 ft.
    Cayambe Hut: 4,658 m/15,282 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 0 m/0 ft.
  • Vertical gain of sleeping elevation: 1,006/3,300 ft.
  • Travel times: Yanacocha Lodge – Cayambe Hut: 1 hour
  • Accommodation: Cayambe Hut. No internet access, no cell signal

Day 8

Summit Cayambe – Yanacocha Lodge. Overnight at Yanacocha Lodge.

Cayambe, the third highest mountain in Ecuador, 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 temperature are both 0 degrees. We begin the climb at about midnight. This early start allows us to take advantage of better snow conditions and so we can travel more quickly and safely. The normal route is technically not challenging, but it is physically demanding. From the hut we will have to ascent to the top of a rocky ridge, then make a short descent before heading up to join the glacier. Once on the glacier, we will rope up and head toward a rocky outcrop located in the middle of the glacier. From there, we turn right toward the summit to work our way through crevasses until reaching the huge summit dome (5,789 m/18,993 ft.) with magnificent views of the Amazon Rain Forest, the surrounding highlands, and mountains such as Antisana and Cotopaxi. After the summit climb, we descend Cayambe and head back down to the Yanacocha Lodge for rest and recovery.

  • Altitudes: Cayambe Hut: 4,658 m/15,282 ft.
    Summit Cayambe: 5,789 m/18,993 ft.
    Yanacocha Lodge: 3,652 m/11,982 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 1,131 m/3,711 ft.
  • Vertical gain of sleeping elevation: -1,006 m/-3,300 ft.
  • Travel times: Cayambe Hut – Yanacocha Lodge: 1 hour
  • Hiking/Climbing times: Cayambe Hut – Summit Cayambe: 8 hours
    Summit Cayambe – Cayambe Hut: 3 hours
  • Accommodation: Yanacocha Lodge with Wi-Fi and cell signal

Day 9

Rest Day from Hiking (Driving day). Yanacocha – Tambopaxi Lodge.

Today we have a rest day. We will visit The Quitsato Sundial which is located exactly at the Middle of the World. The main goal of this non-profit project is to share crucial aspects of the astronomical knowledge of the pre-Hispanic cultures of the region. Then we travel by private bus to Cotopaxi National Park, the showpiece National Park in all of mainland Ecuador. We stay at Tambopaxi (3,766m/12,356ft), a rustic but elegant lodge which offers great views of the north face of Cotopaxi.

  • Altitudes: Yanacocha Lodge: 3,652 m/11,982 ft.
    Tambopaxi: 3,766m/12,356ft
  • Vertical gain climbing: 0 m/0 ft.
  • Vertical gain of sleeping elevation: 114m/374 ft.
  • Travel times: Yanacocha Lodge – Quitsato Sundial: 1 hour
    Quitsato Sundial – Tambopaxi Lodge: 4 hours
  • Accommodation: Tambopaxi Lodge with WiFi, no cell signal

Day 10

Cotopaxi Jose Rivas Refuge

The region around Cotopaxi has the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes, which allows to enjoy the beauty of the mountain itself and its surroundings. We will spend most of the day resting, then head up to the Jose Rivas Refuge (4,800 m/15,744 ft) on Cotopaxi in the afternoon. Our bus will take us up to the trailhead at 4,600 m/15,088 ft, we then hike the remaining 650 vertical feet to the hut. We will eat dinner there, make final preparations for our climb, and retire early to rest for our alpine start.

  • Altitudes: Jose Rivas Refuge: 4.800m/15,700 ft
  • Vertical gain climbing: 200m/656ft
  • Vertical gain of sleeping elevation: 1100m/3,608ft
  • Travel times: Tambopaxi Lodge – Park land Cotopaxi: 45 min.
  • Hiking/Climbing times: 1 hour
  • Accommodation: Jose Rivas Refuge, no internet or cell signal

Day 11

Summit Cotopaxi – Tambopaxi. Tambopaxi Lodge.

After having a light breakfast at the refuge, we will start the climb of the second highest mountain in Ecuador. Alexander von Humboldt said: “Cotopaxi’s shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow…” We begin the climb around 1AM. An early start allows us to take advantage of the better snow conditions and thus travel more quickly and safely. The normal route is technically not challenging but physically demanding. It involves climbing on moderate glaciated slopes (generally 30° – 45°). After approximately eight hours of climbing we reach the top where we can enjoy magnificent views of the gigantic crater and of mountains such as Antisana, Cayambe and Chimborazo. After the summit climb, we descend Cotopaxi and head back to Tambopaxi lodge for rest and recovery.

  • Altitudes: Cotopaxi refuge: 4,800m/15,700ft
    Summit Cotopaxi: 5,897 m/ 19,347ft
  • Vertical gain climbing: 2,131 m/3,603ft
  • Hiking/Climbing times: Jose Rivas Refuge – Summit Cotopaxi: 7 hours
    Summit Cotopaxi – Park land Cotopaxi: 3 hours
  • Accommodation: Tambopaxi Lodge with WiFi, no cell signal

Day 12

Tambopaxi Lodge – Riobamba. Abraspungo Hostelry.

After breakfast, we travel by bus to the Abraspungo Hostelry (2,750 m/9,022 ft.) located close to the city of Riobamba and Chimborazo. We will drive south along what Alexander von Humboldt called, “The Avenue of the Volcanoes,” which are the high valleys separating the two Ecuadorian mountain chains. There will be great opportunities to admire the “Big Ten Ecuadorian Volcanoes,” including the beautiful and active Cotopaxi. In the afternoon, we will reach Abraspungo. This cozy accommodation in a spectacular setting gives us another opportunity to rest and prepare before our most demanding climb.

  • Altitudes: Tambopaxi Lodge: 3,766 m/12,356 ft.
    Abraspungo Hostelry: 2,750 m/9,022 ft.
  • Vertical change of sleeping elevation: – 1,016 m/ – 3,334 ft
  • Travel times: Tambopaxi Lodge – Abraspungo Hostelry: 3 hours
  • Accommodation: Abraspungo Hostelry with WiFi and cell signal

Day 13

Abraspungo Hostelry – Castle Camp on Chimborazo

Chimborazo (6,263 m/20,548 ft.), our next objective, is the highest mountain in Ecuador. Its main summit has the distinction of being the farthest point from the center of the Earth, making Chimborazo, in its own way, the tallest mountain in the world. It does not matter from which side you look at Chimborazo, it will impress you by its size and beauty. We travel by bus to Plaza Roja located close to the Carrel Hut. From there, we will walk about two hours to the Castle Camp, where we spend the afternoon preparing for the climb the next day.

  • Altitudes: Abraspungo Hostelry: 2,750 m/9,022 ft.
    Plaza Roja: 4,852 m/15,918 ft.
    Castle Camp: 5,300 m/17,388 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 448 m/1469 ft.
  • Vertical gain of sleeping elevation: 2,550 m/8,366 ft.
  • Travel times: Abraspungo Hostelry – Plaza Roja: 1 hour
  • Hiking/Climbing times: Plaza Roja – Castle Camp: 2 hours
  • Accommodation: Castle Camp, no internet or cell signal

Day 14

Summit Chimborazo – Riobamba. Abraspungo Hostelry.

We start the climb at about midnight following the rocky section of the Castle ridge until it joins the Castle Saddle (5,500 m/18,044 ft.). From the Castle Camp, it normally takes six to seven hours to get to the Whymper summit from where you will enjoy one of the best views in Ecuador. To the east and southeast are El Altar, the most difficult mountain to climb in Ecuador, and the active volcanoes Tungurahua and Sangay. To the north and northeast are mountains such as the Ilinizas, Antisana, and the famous Cotopaxi. The descent to the Castle Camp takes three hours. After returning to camp, we will pack and descend to Plaza Roja, then travel to Riobamba town. The Abraspungo Hostelry gives us beautiful Andean scenery at the end of our climb

  • Altitudes: Castle Camp: 5,300 m/17,388 ft
    Summit Chimborazo: 6,263 m/20,548 ft.
    Plaza Roja: 4,852 m/15,918 ft.
    Abraspungo Hostelry: 2,750 m/9,022 ft.
  • Vertical gain climbing: 963 m/3,159 ft.
  • Vertical change of sleeping elevation: -2,550 m/-8,366 ft.
  • Travel times: Plaza Roja – Abraspungo Hostelry: 1 hour
  • Hiking/Climbing times: Castle Camp – Summit Chimborazo: 6 – 7 hours
    Summit Chimborazo – Castle Camp: 3 hours
    Castle Camp – Plaza Roja: 1.5 hours
  • Accommodation: Abraspungo Hostelry with WiFi and cell signal

Day 15

Riobamba – Quito. Hotel Mercure.
After breakfast we will drive along the Avenue of the Volcanoes back to Quito. Farewell dinner in the evening.

  • Altitudes: Abraspungo Hostelry: 2,750 m/9,022 ft.
    Quito: 2,850 m/9,350 ft.
  • Travel times: Riobamba – Quito: 4–5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel with WiFi and cell signal

Day 16

Depart Quito for home.

  • Hotel to airport: 45 minuts

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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