Explore the rugged surroundings and stunning scenery of Cotopaxi National Park and Cotopaxi Volcano during this 8-hour day trip. Enjoy a short hike into the Limpiopungo Valley before driving ever-higher into this sky-high region, stopping at the 15,800-foot (4830-meter) Padre Rivas Refuge. If you’re feeling up for it, you’ll continue to the 16,500-foot (5,050-meter) Cotopaxi Glacier. This Cotopaxi day trip also includes national park fees, a guide, bottled water, round-trip hotel transport and an optional trip upgrade with lunch.
Explore Cotopaxi Volcano on an excursion from Quito
Take a short hike amidst the beautiful Limpiopungo Valley
Climb ever-higher into the sky to visit the 15,800-foot (4,830-meter) Padre Rivas Refuge
Cap off your day with a visit to the 16,500-foot (5,050-meter) Cotopaxi Glacier
We booked this day trip through Viator, which was quick and simple. The tour operator, Latin Adventures, contacted us a few days before the scheduled date. Communication with them was easy (they used Whatsap). and our pickup was scheduled. They were on-time, but some miscommunication about whether to meet at the front or side door of the Hotel. Trip to the Park was fine, and the Guide, Alejandro, was informative. Enjoyed a couple of short hikes on the way through the park while he assessed our abilities, and checked on our acclimatization, then some coca tea. Sun came out as we were driving through the park towards the mountain, so we got to see the beauty and majesty - breathtaking ! One more walk in the parking lot (he said many people give up at that point and head back down). We left the driver and started up the zig-zag trail (highly recommended as the other is straight up, in loose sand and gravel). Clouds closed in at close to 15000 feet, and my wife decided that was it for her. I had Alejandro walk her back down and I continued on my own. Tough climb, and was happy to finally see the Refuge through the clouds. Had some hot chocolate, then headed up to the edge of the glacier - ever more difficult the higher I got)). Reached the "Don't Cross" sign, at the edge of the glacier - just over 5000 meters according to one guide I met when I started back down. Met our guide back at the Refuge, and we went down the direct route (through the loose sand and gravel - much faster). Only complaint I have is that my wife was supposed to be waiting in the vehicle in the parking lot, but ended up having to sit there on a rock until the Guide and I returned, because the driver was MIA. She was very cold and her lips were blue by the time we found her, and the Guide located the driver. That should NOT have happened !!!!!!!
Because no one else booked this trip, I paid extra and effectively had a solo guide. I forget his name (sincere apologies), but he was absolutely amazing. The trip solo was well worth the extra cost. We hiked to the ice cap (furthest you can go without specialized equipment). The effort it took is not to be underestimated, but the reward is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed. And the sense of accomplishment cannot be described. Definitely book this and try and do it with someone who you know has the same physical abilities. Reaching the cabin is great, but continuing on to the second "peak" is where the real fun is. 100% recommend.
Anna Marie and Bolivar (our wonderful driver) picked us up at our hotel on time, then it was off to the mountain. We had stops at a viewpoint, the park entrance for some coca tea, and then to the end of the road at 15,000 feet. None of us felt like hiking the extra thousand feet to base camp, so we went down to the lagoon and hiked around it, which was wonderful. Our lovely guide Anna Marie was very knowledgeable about the plants and birds we saw. Finally we stopped for lunch in a charming restaurant in cowboy town. What a fun day!
My husband and I usually plan self-guided trips and sign up for day trips like this one. We've never been disappointed, until now. This tour is not what it claims to be. At least, our guide spent the first part of the tour explaining how we "couldn't" visit "base camp" unless we were in VERY good shape...and then she said we couldn't go unless we had all been in Quito at least 4 days, etc. She said the group would vote, but in the end it was a decree, we aren't going to go. The first part of the tour dragged out: 20 minutes for a bathroom stop after just an hour, 30+ minutes for tea, a very slow walk around the lagoon. When it was time to at least drive onto Cotopaxi, the guide said it would be a 40-minute drive to get to the "parking lot", and put it to a vote whether everyone wanted to go. By that time everyone was hungry, and the group voted no. When I looked at a map later, I realized it wasn't close to a 40-minute drive. So we ended driving to lunch, which was mediocre at best, and sat for a long time, the guide on her phone the entire time. The view of Cotopaxi was pretty good, hence two stars instead of one, but we did not get the tour we paid for.
Absolutely wonderful day with Ana Maria as a guide. She picked us up at our hotel for the two hour drive to Cotopaxi. Once there we stopped for cacao tea at the park entrance. While my husband and I were a bit concerned that the volcano was completely in the clouds, that proved to be unfounded. Turns out only one side was surrounded by clouds, the other was clear and the clouds were like a backlight to the actual summit. As the road winds around to the other side of the volcano, the summit came into full view and it was spectacular. We saw wild horses and bulls, stopped to take pictures of the wild flowers, then up the extremely bumpy road to the parking lot just below the Refuge. My husband climbs and hikes a lot so he made it up to the refuge and then kept going to the glacier, though more slowly than usual given the altitude. I'm not very athletic or in very good shape so only managed about 200 feet up the path, which is really more like a shifting vertical sand pile. You can really feel the pressure on the heart and lungs at 14000 feet and the two prior days on altitude sickness pills really didn't make a difference -- I could barely breathe and after 10 steps my heart was pounding out of my chest. Luckily I was in good company -- lots of people stopping every few feet and Ana Maria was wonderful, stayed with me the entire time. We got up to a prominent look out and rested for a while then began the slow descent back to the car while my husband went on ahead. Walking down a near vertical shifting sand pile can be a bit dangerous too, as it turns out, and we saw quite a few people fall down. The scariest was a man who was rushing a small child, maybe about 6 or 7, down the mountain as the child was clearly beginning to suffer altitude sickness -- that made the dangers a bit real for me. But honestly I doubt I was in any real danger since I had decided to turn back early rather than try to struggle through to the Refuge. Ana Maria and I had a good time talking in her car about Ecuadorian and American culture while we waited for my husband. On the way back to the city we stopped at an excellent restaurant for a late lunch of locro soup, pork and chocolate ice cream accompanied by a glass of soursop. The ride back into the city was interesting too as we cut through numerous neighborhoods and it made me appreciate the sheer size and depth of the city. We were both pretty tired by the end but would certainly recommend this tour and the guide, Ana Maria, to anyone who wants to visit Ecuador's favorite and spectacular volcano. Even people who aren't in very good shape like me will be well taken care of by the guide and those who are more in shape can easily follow the trails to the Refuge and the glacier beyond plus there are so many other hikers you can just follow them so don't really need a guide from the parking lot. In fact, I think the guide is more helpful for people who can't make it -- Ana Maria was very reassuring and it was a wonderful opportunity for us to talk.
Just a 2 hour drive from Quito, this is a great day trip from the city. The main hike on the volcano is from the car park to the first refuge. The hike is short and can be done in normal trainers but it takes about an hour because of the altitude. Great views and a real thrill to see one of the world's most active volcanoes.
Very professional but there were a few details about this tour I didn't like. There was no water provided although there was supposed to be. When we stopped for a break our guide ordered us coca tea and had a coffee himself - I would have preferred coffee but he didn't ask.
No doubt that both the driver and the guide were immensely helpful to me and my wife They were both knowledgeable and willing to share their ideas, views, and suggestions regarding Ecuadorian cuisine, folklore, and way of thinking. Being my wife and I Costa Rican, having these gentlemen with us helped us comprehend more the local culture and their way of doing things in regards to anything linked to our hike in Cotopaxi and around the glacial lagoon at the foot of the mountain.
The trip to Cotopaxi was a thrilling experience for both my wife and I who really want to thank you, Viator, for the challenging experience we had in Ecuador. Some of the best and most outstanding photographs we took were here in spite of the cold weather 2C, the windy atmosphere charged with tiny drops of rain, the altitude that affects your breathing. It is a trip for people who are willing to take themselves to other limits beyond our usual city-dwelling life.
Pick up and drop off was good. Van was a little small and cramped for 8 of us and driver and guide. Drive was nice and views were great. Cotopaxi National Park and Volcano is worth the time. Really good time. Just get a bigger van for that many people.
A good day trip and our guide was very good however we did not get to do several of the things listed in the description - you just drive to the car park, walk to the refuge then get lunch on the way back in a nice cafe. The experience was good but shorter than advertised and overpriced.