Highest Summits of Ecuador
Highest Summits of Ecuador

Highest Summits of Ecuador

12 days

Climbers in Ecuador below icy formationsClimber descending from one of the Ecuador's tallest peaksLlamas in Ecuador's AndesBeautiful mountain in EcuadorGroup of climbers ascending one of the peaks in EcuadorMountain city in EcuadorBeautiful mountain in Ecuador

Spend 12-days climbing to the highest summits of Ecuador

The 12-day guided Highest Summits of Ecuador Tour invites you to enjoy an in-depth mountaineering experience like no other. Chimborazo (6,268m / 20,564ft), Cotopaxi (5,897m / 19,347ft) and Cayambe (5,790m / 18,996ft) are all situated on the tropical belt close to Quito in Ecuador. Due to their infrastructure and lodging options, they are very accessible volcanoes for driven mountaineers. The surrounding Andes region with its numerous volcanoes at different altitudes, gorgeous nature and exotic indigenous villages and cultures, makes the acclimatization and climbs on this tour the experience of a lifetime.

On this 12-day itinerary, you’ll benefit from a superb acclimatization program, including trekking around Cuicocha crater lake and an ascent to the Imbabura volcano. You’ll be provided with excellent professional guides, equipment, great accommodations, transportation, and meals.

This is a unique, all-encompassing climbing experience that won’t disappoint. Book your spot today!

Highlights of the Highest Summits of Ecuador

Seize the climbing experience of a lifetime, tackling Ecuador’s highest summits including Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Cayambe.
Discover the natural beauty of the Ecuadorian Andes as you trek its volcanoes and enjoy this adventure wonderland.
Enjoy a rest day in the stunning town of Baños at the foothills of the Tunguragua Volcano.
Experience an authentic mountaineering adventure as you stay in rustic mountain huts at high altitudes.

Prices

From $2,095USD
12 days
Difficulty
Guided
Hotels, lodges, mountain huts
  • No Booking or Credit Card Fees
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Highest Summits of Ecuador

Highest Summits of Ecuador Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Quito

Your climbing adventure begins today as you arrive at the airport in Quito. From here, you’ll transferred to your hotel where you can either rest up for the adventure-filled days ahead or set out to explore the capital city independently.
Overnight Location: Hotel in Quito (2,850m / 9,350ft)
Distance: None
Meals: None

Day 2 Full Day City Tour of Quito (2,850m / 9,350ft)

Today you’ll come to know and love Ecuador’s magnetic capital of Quito. Enjoy a full day private city tour in the historical part of Quito, including La Basilica Church, La Compañia Church and El Panecillo Hill. Watch the transformation before your eyes as you make your way from the new part of the city to the stunning historical and colonial section of Quito. You’ll take in Quito’s remarkable churches and plazas and will find yourself immersed in the local atmosphere, which will no doubt leave you charmed.

Later, you’ll continue to “El Panecillo”, the hill in the center of Quito overlooking the city and the historical center. With good weather, you may be able to spot several of the snow-capped volcanoes on the outskirts of Quito. Following lunch, you’ll visit “Mitad del Mundo” where you can stand on the equatorial line and do some neat experiments.
Overnight Location: Hotel in Quito (2,850m / 9,350ft)
Distance: Flexible
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 Cuicocha Lake trek (3,400m / 11,154ft) and Otavalo

This morning you’ll be picked up at the hotel in Quito and transfer to Cuicocha’s volcanic lake (3h). About halfway on the journey, there will be a stop at the Equatorial line, just before reaching the town of Otavalo. The road trip continues until the Cuichocha Park entrance, where the hike begins. Following a very good trail that goes around the crater’s rim, you’ll walk almost the entire circumference of the lake.

Transfer back to Otavalo and enjoy some time on your own to visit the famous indigenous market, where it is possible to find all sorts of souvenirs while watching the local people go about their daily life. There is a wide variety of bars, restaurants and cafes to enjoy the rest of the day in Otavalo.
Overnight Location: Hotel in Otavalo (2,532m / 8,307ft)
Distance: 4hours, 300m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 4 Climb the Imbabura Volcano (4,560m / 14,960ft)

Imbabura volcano is beautifully located on the shores of San Pablo Lake, just in front of the town of Otavalo. The mountain stands alone and has a privileged view of the neighbouring volcanoes of Cotacachi and Cayambe.

An early pick-up at the hotel this morning will have you set out on a 1.5-hour transfer to the trailhead (3165m / 10,383ft) known as La Esperanza. Imbabura has two summits and today you’ll hike to the slightly lower of the two. This is a great activity and not as crowded as other acclimatization summits. It is important to be aware that even though the ascent is not technical it can be quite long and physically demanding due to its altitude. After the activity, the group will return to Otavalo for a good night’s rest.
Overnight Location: Hotel in Otavalo (2,532m / 8,307ft)
Distance: 6-7hours, 1365m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 5 Cayambe Glacier Training (4,680m / 15,354ft)

Following a good rest and a well-deserved breakfast, a 2-hour transfer will take the group to the Cayambe’s parking area (4,350m / 14,271ft). Then you’ll set out on a 1-hour hike to the Cayambe mountain hut (4,621m / 15,160ft). Enjoy a short break here before continuing the hike for another 30 minutes, first down and then slightly up, to the low part of the glacier that is located just in front of the hut. Once there (4,680m / 15,354ft), the team will gear up and follow the guide’s instructions in the use of crampons, ice axes, rope and all the appropriate technical gear for the climb.

This is in no way an alpine course, just a brief introduction to the techniques needed for the upcoming ascent. This activity will also improve acclimatization due to the physical activity in altitude. After the training, the team will head back down to the hut for the night. The rest of the afternoon is for the climber’s preparations. The guides will do a detailed briefing about all the aspects of the ascent and help to organize all of the gear. An early dinner will be served and then it’s time to rest, until the guides call for breakfast, usually around midnight.
Overnight Location: Mountain Hut in Cayambe’s National Park (4,600m / 15,091ft)
Distance: 4hours, 330m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 Climb: Cayambe Volcano (5,790m / 18,996ft)

The summit day starts very early; departure time will be set by the mountain guides, according to the team’s physical condition and the weather forecast, usually in the range between 11PM and 2AM. Breakfast will be served 1 hour before the scheduled departure. The team will begin the ascent from the hut heading up a moraine for about 1.5 -2 hours. Once on the edge of the glacier, the group will gear up and divide, in case of a big group, into smaller teams in a range of 2 clients for 1 guide. The climb of Cayambe is quite long and requires endurance and a good deal of mental strength. Cayambe’s glacier is on the biggest ice mass in the country and its climb, even though is not technically difficult, it's a series of crevassed areas and some icy slopes that make the route interesting. The first section of the glacier is a gentle slope until a rocky formation called Picos Jarrin is reached. From here, the route goes by the main ridge that leads up to the summit. There are a few sections and passages that are very icy on the ridge. The main obstacle on the higher part of the mountain is the altitude, so perseverance is the key factor. The weather on Cayambe changes rapidly, as it is located on the Eastern range looking down into the Amazon, so this is also a determining factor for a successful ascent. The climb takes an average time of 7-8 hours.

The summit itself is just spectacular and with luck, the view is worth every step of the way. The descent is done heading back the same way and usually takes between 3-4 hours. Once back at the huts and after the whole group reunites, the team will hike down to the parking place and the transport will be waiting to take the team to Cotopaxi National Park (3h).
Overnight Location: Mountain Hut near Cotopaxi (3,750m / 12,303ft)
Distance: 10-12hours, 1169m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 7 Cotopaxi – High hut (4,847m / 15,902ft)

This morning following a hearty breakfast, there will be time to get all the gear organized and enjoy the morning at this lovely location. Around midday, the team will jump into the vehicle for a 1-hour transfer to the Cotopaxi’s Parking area (4,587m / 15,049ft). Then a 1-hour hike to Cotopaxi’s Mountain Hut (4,847m / 15,902ft), the rest of the afternoon is for climbing preparations. The guides will do a detailed briefing about all the aspects of the ascent and help with all the gear. An early dinner will be served followed by time for rest, until the guides call for breakfast, usually around midnight.
Overnight Location: Mountain Hut near Cotopaxi (4,800m / 15,744 ft)
Distance: 1hour, 400m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 Climb: Cotopaxi Volcano (5,897m / 19,347ft)

Summit day starts very early and departure time will be set by the mountain guides, according to the team’s physical condition and the weather forecast. You can expect to depart in the range between 11PM and 2AM. Breakfast will be served 1 hour before the scheduled departure. The team will begin the ascent from the hut following a well-marked trail that gently ascends over a fine stoned moraine for about 1 hour. Once on the edge of the glacier (4990m), the group will gear up and divide into smaller teams in a range of 2 clients for 1 guide.

The Cotopaxi climb requires endurance as well as mental strength. Cotopaxi’s glacier is quite safe and the climb is not technically difficult, but there are a few crevassed areas and some icy slopes that make the route challenging but thrilling. The first section of the glacier is a gentle slope that gets steeper as it reaches higher, there are a series of switchbacks known as “Heart Breaker” which are the toughest part of the ascent due to the demanding steepness and continuity. Following this, a very nice ridge gradually gains altitude, passing close to the prominent rock face which is known as “Yanasacha” at about 5,630m. From this point, a relatively long traverse to the right ensues before another set of switchbacks that lead up to the crater’s rim and just a few meters later to the main summit. The climb takes an average time of 7-8 hours.

Cotopaxi’s summit is one of the most remarkable ones especially when looking down into the double rim crater. On clear days, it is possible to see most of the neighbouring volcanoes such as Antisana, Cayambe, Ilinizas, Chimborazo, El Altar and the active Tunguragua. The descent is done following back the same way and takes between 3-4 hours. Once back at the huts and after the whole group reunites, a short hike down (20 minutes) to the parking place is followed by a drive back to Quito (3h).
Overnight Location: Hotel in Baños
Distance: 10-12hours, 1050m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 9 Enjoy a Rest Day in Baños de Santa Agua (1,820m / 5,971ft)

The town of Baños lies in the Tunguragua province at the foothills of the active Tunguragua Volcano (5,023m / 16,479ft). Baños is known as the “Gateway to the Amazon” as it is the last Andean town before reaching the Amazon basin. Due to its privileged location, this town offers a wealth of adventure opportunities.
Outdoor sports are also popular here, like mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. You can also opt to relax in the rejuvenating hot springs here if some rest is in order today.

Baños also boasts stunning scenery with famous waterfalls that lie just a few kilometres down the valley. The best known are “El Pailon del Diablo” (Devil’s pot) and “El Manto de la Novia” (the bride’s veil), which can be visited by taking a local taxi. The “Tarabita” (Cable-car) to cross over the Pastaza River is also an experience well-worth setting out on and it is also possible to hike through the orchards and gardens of the local inhabitants here.
Overnight Location: Hotel in Baños
Distance: None
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 Chimborazo – Carrel hut (4,800 m / 15,748ft)

After a day of fun and relaxation in Baños, climbers will pack up and drive 3 hours back to the highland heading towards Chimborazo National Park.

Chimborazo Volcano is a formidable mountain that stands out from the “Volcanoes Avenue”. The indigenous farmed land that surrounds the mountains are all traditionally worked and very colourful during the harvest season. While driving up to the main entrance, you’ll observe the dramatic landscapes where the impacts of old eruptions have shaped the geography of the land. After crossing the park borders, the landscape turns very arid, like a desert.

The road goes all the way to the door of the lower hut “Refugio Hermanos Carrel” (4,800m / 15,748ft), where a 1-hour acclimatization hike begins through a gorgeous moraine valley up to the Whymper Hut (5,000m / 16,404ft), before heading back down to the Carrel hut where you will spend the night. The rest of the afternoon and evening will be devoted to preparations for the climb followed by an early dinner. The mountain guides will provide all the information and help to assure the best logistics for the demanding climb ahead.
Overnight Location: Mountain Hut on Chimborazo (4,800m / 15,748ft)
Distance: 1.5hours, 200m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11 Climb: Chimborazo Volcano (6,268 m / 20,564ft)

Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and is also the highest in the world, if measured from the center of the earth, due to its location on the tropical belt. The mountain boasts five major summits which are all linked by a ridge known as the “Arista del Sol” (Sun’s ridge). The main summit is the Whymper (6,268m / 20,564ft) which is named after the British mountaineer Edward Whymper, who has the first person to climb it in 1880 along with the Swiss Carrel brothers.

Climbing Chimborazo by its normal Southwest route is an arduous task—a long 1468 meters ascent and descent in one push at a considerable altitude. The terrain is complex, as it morphs from an easy moraine trail to ice, snow and rock sections, with some easy scrambling. Even though it is not a technical climb, it is undeniably physically demanding. The climb starts between 10PM and 1AM, according to the team’s fitness, acclimatization level and meteorological conditions.

The first part of the route is no longer the normal route, but a variant known as the “Marco Cruz route”, which is named after the legendary Ecuadorian mountaineer who first ascended it. This variant joins the normal route after the “El Castillo” rock pillar and makes the ascent much safer and more beautiful. Once on the march, the first part of the climb is basically a flat moraine until it begins to get steeper, with a few scrambling sections, before reaching the top of the ridge. After a short while hiking on the ridge, an exposed section reveals itself as you hike around the “El Castillo” rock before reaching a flat area where the variant route joins the normal route. The glacier rises on a wide ridge that goes up to an approximate altitude of 5850m. From this point, a gentle traverse elevates westwards reaching 6000m and then a relatively straight uphill climb to the first summit: the Veintimilla (6,230m / 20,439ft). Then, descend a few meters to cross a col and then back up to reach the main summit: Whymper (6,268m / 20,564ft). This is a brilliant ascent to a summit above 6000 meters and a true test of one’s physical and mental endurance.

The descent is done by the same route back to the Carrel hut and, after packing, there will be a transfer ready to take the group back to Quito. The drive back to Quito takes approximately 4 hours to reach your hotel for the final night.
Overnight Location: Hotel in Quito (2,850m / 9,350ft)
Distance: 10-12 hours, 1468m of ascent
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 12 Departure

Time to leave the volcanoes of Ecuador! You’ll be picked up at the hotel to transfer out to Quito’s Airport where the tour ends. Transfer time is 1-2 hours.
Overnight Location: None
Distance: None
Meals: Breakfast

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Highest Summits of Ecuador Price and Dates

This guided tour in Ecuador is always run as a private tour for your group only and the price depends on the size of your group.

The prices below are per person sharing a double or a triple room and those willing to have a single room will have to pay a supplement of $133 USD.

  • Guided Groups of 2: $2,495 USD per person
  • Guided Groups of 3: $2,375 USD per person
  • Guided Groups of 4-5: $2,315 USD per person
  • Guided Groups of 6: $2,095 USD per person
  • Guided Groups of 7+: on request

Accommodation on Highest Summits of Ecuador

This tour is based in hotels, mountain lodges and mountain huts. Hotels on this trip are 3-star and offer modern conveniences that can make this trip more pleasant. The accommodation in mountain lodges and mountain huts is more rustic and, in some cases, you’ll be staying in a dormitory-type accommodation where you’ll share your living space with other travellers.

Note, you need to bring your own sleeping bag for this tour.

In some cases, the accommodation listed below may need to be substituted for other comparable accommodations.

Single Rooms and Solo Travelers
Rooms are double occupancy. You can pay a supplement of $133 USD to have a private room in a hotel where possible. Please note that single rooms are only available in hotels.

Hotels on Standard Tour

Hotel Ikala in Quito ★★★★

This colourful hotel has a tree-shrouded pool and deck to relax on, a great rooftop terrace, and updated bathrooms.

Hotel El Indio Inn in Otavalo ★★★

A family-friendly hotel in Otavalo featuring modern amenities and a warm and welcoming vibe.

Night 5

Ruales-Oleas-Bergé Mountain Hut in Cayambe’s National Park

Known as one of Ecuador’s best altitude lodges this cozy stone hut is situated in the beautiful Cayambe National Park.

Low Mountain Hut Tambopaxi near Cotopaxi

Guests will enjoy a laid-back vibe at this colourful mountain hut featuring a great restaurant.

Night 7

Jose Rivas Hut near Cotopaxi

As the most popular mountain hut in Ecuador, the Jose Rivas is a cozy base camp for exploring Cotopaxi and is always a favourite amongst guests.

Hotel Isla del Baños, Baños ★★★

Tucked into the trees, this cute hotel and spa offers comfortable rooms, free WiFi, a delicious breakfast, and a convenient location.

Night 10

Carrel Mountain Hut on Chimborazo

The mountain huts on this tour are very simple, often with basic dormitory-style rooms and bunk beds.

Hotel Ikala in Quito ★★★★

This colourful hotel has a tree-shrouded pool and deck to relax on, a great rooftop terrace, and updated bathrooms.

What’s Included in the Highest Summits of Ecuador?

Meals

12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 3 dinners are included.

Accommodations

Accommodations for 8 nights are included.

Transportation during the Tour

Transportation for you and your luggage is included throughout the tour, including transfer to and from the airport. During the trekking days, you’ll be carrying your own backpack.

Also Included

  • English-speaking mountain guide
  • Activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees where applicable

Not included

  • Flights to and from Quito
  • Meals, drinks, or snacks not previously mentioned
  • Gratuities for tour guides or other staff if desired
  • Private porter to/from Cotopaxi’s high hut
  • Personal climbing and camping gear
  • Insurance
  • Sleeping bag

Optional Extras

  • Extra transfers (in case group needs more than one)
  • German/French/Italian speaking guide
  • Gear rental:
    • Helmet
    • Ice-axe
    • Crampons
    • Harness
    • Mountain boots

Frequently Asked Questions about Highest Summits of Ecuador

Andes World Travel is a boutique adventure tour operator, founded by mountaineers, grown out of a love for adventure and first-hand knowledge of the Andes region. They offer a wide range of tours throughout South America, including both adventure tours and cultural tours.

Andes World Travel offers climbing, trekking, and hiking tours with an emphasis on safety and professionalism. They also offer “light trekking” trips for less experienced adventurers.

The company runs tours in Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Peru. They focus on sustainable practices and are more than willing to customize their tours to client’s wishes.

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Is this tour for me?

We rate this tour as a 5 / 5. You’ll be hiking in high altitude and harsh environment. This tour is physically demanding and having previous experience is highly recommended.

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