This is an active Volcano and the second highest mountain of Ecuador. Only 50 kilometers south of Quito it is a quite popular peak and atracts a lot of people. Nevertheless the high altidude brings an extra spice to the approach. The more than 1.000 vertical meters don’t seem much on the paper but when you are not used to the height you can get in difficulties quite fast. So make sure to aclimatize properly.
A bit of mountaineering knowledge also helps on the approach on the Glacier where you need crampons and an ice axe. Addiotionally it is considered to take a mountain guide, first for route finding and the approach in the night and secondly park entrance won’t let you pass if you don’t have a guide. The route itself isn’t difficult and consits mostly of walking on snow sometimes up to 45° steep. There are also some huge crevasses which have to be watched out.
Where to book a Guide?
- Quito: you have a lot of tour operators who can arrange something there.
- Hotel Rondador Cotopaxi: it is located near the entrance of Cotopai National Par entrance. I stayed there and they arranged me a Guide.
- Latacunga and Machachi: Machachi is alittle town near Quito and from there you reach the east entrance. Latacunga hasa 100.000 inhabitants and agencys where you can book tours
What to know about the approach?
- the approach is splitted in two days. First day is just getting to the Hut which is located at about 4.800m. Get dinner and try to sleep a bit (if you can due to altidude). You sleep in a dormitory with a bunch of other people so dont’t expect it to be quiet
- At about 00.30 in the night you get up and start to walk. The approach is estimated to take 6-8 hours. So depending on your physical condionts you should calculate how long it takes. For me it was about 4,5 hours, that’s why we had to wait one hour for sunrise.
- make sure you have a lot to drink and food
- Weather forecasting in Ecuador is generally difficult and even more in the mountains. Also if weather from the valley looks bad an clouded it can happen that you have good weather on the summit because you are alreday above the clouds. Best thing is to call the hut and ask about conditions and if people did summit.
- Enjoy the breathtaking view from above 🙂