AAEP06     Trekking Ecuador     16D/15N   


Ecuador, one of the smallest of the Andean nations, is a land of breathtaking variety and home to numerous snow-capped volcanoes and peaks of the high Andes. From the colonial capital of Quito, we head north to the market town of Otavalo before beginning our first volcano trek to Yanahurco de Piñan (4535m) – the Black Mountain.
Heading south we visit the beautiful highlands of Zumbagua with its local naive painters before setting out on a six-day trek passing Carihuairazo Volcano(5020m) with stunning backdrops of glaciers, moraines and lakes on the way to the famous Whimper Hut (5000m) on the slopes of Mount Chimborazo (6310m), which summit is the closest place on earth to the sun. At the end of the trip, those still hungry for peaks have the option to tackle the ascent of North Illiniza (5116m) and Cotopaxi (5897m) or for those looking for something different there’s an option to add a remarkable cruise among the ‘enchanted’ Galapagos islands, a great finale and a memorable experience for any lover of natural history.

Day 1: Arrival in Quito. Transfer to our hotel.

Day 2: Quito: At 2850m Quito is the second highest capital city in Latin America and lies in a long narrow valley dominated by the imposing Pichincha Volcano. The old part of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a delightful crush of narrow cobbled streets and fine colonial architecture. A world away, however, is the new town with its broad avenues, fine villas, modern shops and offices. The Equator Monument marks the spot which Marie-Charles de la Condamine declared to be the equator in 1736. Guided visit to the old city and to the Equator monument. Hotel. (B).

Day 3: Otavalo: Driving north from Quito across the equator we reach Otavalo, home of a renowned market. Otavalo’s industrious inhabitants are extremely striking in appearance - the pony-tailed Indian men in their uniform of felt hat, navy and grey poncho, calf-length white trousers and espadrilles; the women in white blouses, dark skirts and necklaces of gold and coral. Most Indian communities around Otavalo are dedicated to some form of craft work. In the afternoon we will take an acclimatization walk (4 hours) on the edge of Cuicocha Lake. This flooded crater lies on the slopes of Cotacachi volcano and offers great panoramas of the surrounding highland scenery. After the walk we return to Otavalo for the night. Hotel. (B).

Day 4: Yanahurco de Piñan Trek: This morning we will drive from Otavalo to the village of Iruginchu, a typical Andean town at 2800m. From here we start our first day trekking and head towards the base of Churoloma hill and our first camp at 3100m, the route takes us past small farms and polylepis forests. These small trees, known locally as quinua, are members of the rose family and, along with the Himalayan pines, share the world record amongst trees for growing at the highest altitudes. (B, LB, D).

Day 5: Yanacocha Lake. Today we follow an ancient path, reputedly dating back to the Inca period, which climbs steeply towards the base of Cerro Huga before descending south until we reach the shores of the Yanacocha Lake. From the highest pass of 3900m it is possible to see Yanahurcu and Cotacachi volcanoes. Our camp will be at 3600m. (B, LB, D).

Day 6: Yanahurcu ascent. Climbing across a steep moraine as well as volcanic sand and ash fields, we head for the summit of the Yanahurcu volcano (4535m) which name means Black Mountain. From the top (if weather permits) we should get magnificent views of the Ecuadorian Andes. Descending back down the mountain we move forward to the next campsite at the Burrococha lakes (3700m). (B, LB, D).

Day 7: Piñan - Machachi. We make our final descent to the Hacienda Hospital where the nearby hot springs offer a welcoming chance to relax. From here we will drive south to the town of Machachi. Accommodation in a nice Hacienda Hotel. (B, LB).

Day 8: Quilotoa Lake – Ambato: This morning we visit some small indigenous communities and the famous naive painters around the beautiful highlands of Zumbagua. Then we continue our drive to the rim of Quilotoa Crater, where we can descend to the impressive lagoon that fills the vent of an ancient volcano. Later on we continue to our hotel in the city of Ambato. (B).

Day 9: Carihuairazo and Chimborazo Volcanoes trek: Transport to Tisaleo Village on the upper hills of the northeast side of Mount Carihuairazo. From here we start our 4 hours trek till we reach our first camp site on San Antonio highlands. (B, LB).

Day 10: San Antonio - Paramos de Hatillo. In our second day we will cross the beautiful Salasaca valley and then we will reach our first high mountain pass (4450m) with astonishing views of the east rocky walls of Carihuairazo volcano. From the pass we descend to the Carboneria valley and then trek to our next camp at 3600m. (B, LB, D).

Day 11: Paramos de Hatillo – Quebrada Abraspungo. This day we trek up to the south side of the Carboneria valley. Heading west we will reach the base of the east side of the volcano and trek up to our second high pass at 4300m just below the base of the impressive Mocha peak. Descend to our next camp located on the deep Abraspungo Gorge. Camp at 3700m. Enjoy great views of Mount Chimborazo. (B, LB, D).

Day 12: Quebrada Abraspungo – Isapapungo (Vicuñas camp): Trekking west towards the huge plateau located between the Carihuairazo and Chimborazo volcanoes. Enjoy great views of the glaciers of Chimborazo contrasting with the beautiful moor land grass of the lower lands of Carihuairazo volcano. Camp (4100m). B, LB, D.

Day 13: Pogyos camp: Continuing over the high paramos of Chimborazo’s north-west face we will see the huge glaciers and an unusually arid area found on this side of the mountain. Today’s goal will be the remains of the famous Fabian Zurita refuge (4900m). Years ago, the first attempts to reach the summit of Chimborazo all started from here following the “Murallas Rojas” route. Descend to our Camp near to Pogyos highlands. (B, LB, D).

Day 14: Whimper hut – Baños Town: On this day, the participants who feel strong enough, can make our last day’s long trek (6-7 hours) which takes us to the western side of the mountain and, after traversing a couple of glacial moraines, we reach an altitude of 5100m before descending to the world-famous Whimper Hut (5000m). Participants who wish a relaxing day would descend to the main road and with our private transport go up to the Carrel hut (4800m). They also can make a short hike to the Whimper hut to meet the other trekkers. Then together we continue our descent to the Carrel Hut (4800m), where we meet our vehicle to drive to the charming town of Baños (1800m). This pleasant spa town attracts many Ecuadorians, who are drawn by its balmy climate and curative waters, plus the cathedral’s miraculous Virgin, which supposedly protects the inhabitants from the active Tungurahua (5023m) volcano, which overlooks it. Hotel. (B, LB).

Day 15: Baños - Quito: Free morning to explore Baños. Despite the number of visitors it receives, Baños remains relatively unspoiled and there is no better way to start the day than rising early, and heading up the hill for an invigorating soak - a remarkably social affair! The baths are fed by thermal springs coming from the base of the volcano, and the brown water (a result of its mineral content) is reputedly good for one’s health. In the afternoon, we drive back to Quito. Hotel. (B).

Day 16: Transfer out.


 Gross Rates per Person in US$:

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 • Included: Private transportation, professional mountain guide, double accommodation in comfortable hotels and tents, all camping gear, noted meals during the excursion, cook, helper, and entrance fees.

Not included: Other meals, personal expenses, personal climbing equipment, tips, and personal travel insurance.

 Grading: Moderate – hard





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