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Cotopaxi National Park

Pierre and Barbara
January 16th, 2020 · 4 min read
Home > Ecuador > Cotopaxi National Park

Tips 👏

  • Cotopaxi Volcano is the highest active volcano in the world at 5897m.
  • It’s a quite cold and windy area, so bring adequat gear.
  • ATMs are not frequent, withdraw before.
  • The hike and tour are quite long, so take water and snacks with you.

🏠 Accommodation

We slept at Chuquiragua Lodge and that was very nice. Big and modern bedroom, good breakfast, nice view on the volcano and SPA. It’s a relaxing place, but expensive (count 50£ for a private bedroom) with some details off (not super hot shower, 2$/coffee…).

🚲 Getting there

We used Ecuador Hop as good newbies. It took about 1h from Quito, more below.

⏱ Duration

We stayed one night and one full day and felt that was good.

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Ecuador Hop 🚎

We found this service online by looking for transport solution in Ecuador. It’s essencially a line of tourist bus stopping in the main attractions of the country. The good part is you can go on and off the bus as you wish. The bad part is that it’s usually big group, and more expensive than local transports.

We decided to go with it for simplicity sake, and booked the transport from Quito to Baños on their website. It costed us around 50$ each, including two day activities.

Overall we quite enjoyed it since the bus was comfy, on time, and the staff were friendly. We found it way better that Peru Hop since smaller groups and nicer guides. We believed that you can find way better deals by yourself, but if you’re alone or you can’t be bothered it’s a good alternative. We also had some issues with pick-ups, but they are very responsive via mail, so we managed to fix it on time.

Cotopaxi Volcano 🌋

After an early wake-up, we got picked-up by the bus at 6:30AM in our Quito’s hotel. On the way, the guide proposed us to opt-in for the tour to the volcano for 40$/person, which we found pricy but honest in the end, since it was including all the driving, breakfast, lunch on the same day.

An hour and a half of drive later, we arrived at the Chuquiragua Lodge where we got fresh breakfast and checked-in. We had a good hour to relax in our rooms, until the other bus arrived to pick us up. We did our first stop at 3600m, 40 minutes later, to take a coca tea, acclimatate to the altitude and picked-up our two lovely local guides.

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An encouter with a dear later, we carried on the drive for an extra 40 minutes up to the parking lot at 4500m below the volcano. We jumped out of the bus, put our cold gear on since the wind was strong AF, and started the hike toward the refugio. It took us around 1h of ascend in the windy steep ashes slopes of the volcano to arrive at the viewpoint, where we enjoyed the spectacular view for 15 minutes with another 2$ coca tea.

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It took us then around 20 minutes to go back down to the bus. We’ve hopped on our seats and drove other 40 minutes to the super windy Limpiopungo Lagoon. We stopped for 15 minutes to admire the view on the volcano, learn about medicinal plants and even spotted two condors cruising around. After the break, we headed straight back to the lodge where our frugal lunch was waiting for us, followed by a well deserved siesta.

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Overall, we had a blast. This volcano is purely impressive, and the hike is a bit hard but worth it 100%. The guide were also very nice, it’s a must-do if you’re in the Quito area.


👏 Tips

  • It’s super windy so bring warm clothes.
  • The ascend is fairly easy, but good shoes is better to come down.
  • We had food at 15:30 so snacks and water is good to take.
  • Take your passports with you if you fancy a cool stamp.
  • It’s possible to get to the volcano’s summit for extra 6 hours if planned in advance. It requires to leave at midnight from the refugio with a guide (the ice is harder at night, making it easier to walk on).

Relaxing in the lodge 🛀

After our hike and siesta, we decided to simply chill at the lodge where we could admire the view on the volcano. The best part of this place is they get a SPA area, with a jacuzzi, sauna, hammam and even massages facilities. Don’t expect anything crazy but it’s perfect to relax after a long day hikking. We enjoyed the facilities, before getting a nice dinner followed by a good night of deep sleep.

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Quilotoa Lagoon 💦

The following day, we woke up early, grabbed the included breakfast, and left the lodge at 8:15AM in the bus direction Quilotoa Lagoon. Our next stop being Baños, the company line allows you to stop on the way at the lagoon to briefly visit it for 1h before carrying on the road the same day. You can also stop in Quilotoa Town for the night but we didn’t since short on time.

After a short briefing by the guide in the bus, we drove for 2 hours to reach Mirador del Toachi with an incredible view on a canyon created by the lava of the Quilotoa Volcano. We stopped for 15 minutes to take pictures, before going back in the bus for another 45 minutes.

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We then finally reached the Shalala Viewpoint, overlooking the wonderful Quilotoa lagoon from the top. It’s a very cool place since it’s very high, but also the mirador is built with big glass panels, to provide a better view. As usual, we admired the site for 20 minutes, wandered around before getting back in the bus.

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Then, we drove back another 30 minutes to Quilotoa city, where we left the people spending the day there. Activities wise, they were going to walk down to the lagoon and do some kayak, that looked pretty cool to us. Once we dropped them, we’ve headed directly to Baños for another 3 hours. We had one stop on the way to buy some food, use the toilet, and changed bus.

Our 3 days stay in Baños and surroundings, check again Quito, or go back to the main Ecuador post.

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