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3311

Volcano Avenue

0
  • 5 Days / 4 Nights
  • Group : Private
  • Hacienda & Lodge based
  • Difficulty : 2+
  • Pickup: Quito
  • Min Age : 8+

If you would like to see Ecuador´s impressive volcanoes without camping or climbing, our hacienda-based trip in the Central Andes is a perfect option. It includes excellent day hikes to Antisana, Quilotoa, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, and Tungurahua, the 5 most outstanding of the 32 volcanoes that form the Volcano Avenue. This name was given by German scientist Alexander von Humboldt whose Andes expedition dates back to 1802. Humboldt´s mission was to understand the earth and nature in all its dimensions: geology, botany, fauna, climate, and more. He was the first to attempt summiting Chimborazo, by then believed the world´s highest mountain.

This memorable journey in the footsteps of Humboldt enables you to hike in magnificent landscapes shaped by volcanoes with chances to spot Andean condors, spectacled bears, and vicuñas.

Starting Place

Quito

 
What to Expect

Our Volcano Avenue tour combines easy to moderate day hikes of average 4 -6 hiking hours, with private transfers from hacienda to hacienda. It is recommended to spend 2 – 3 days in Quito before starting, in order to get used to the higher elevation.

After a hiking day, you will enjoy the comfort of a hot shower, a glass of wine at a cozy fireplace, and Andean gastronomy. Each of the selected haciendas has its very own style and history.

  • Distances: average 10 km / 6.2 mi per day
  • Trail type: easy to moderate trails, mainly sandy and rocky, with some humid tracks
  • Altitude range 2600 m - 5060 m / 8.530 – 16.600 ft
  • Average day temperature: 12° C / 57° F
  • Average night temperature: 7° C / 44.6° F
  • Best months: June - September, November – January
Photos
Itinerary

Day 1Chakana Reserve and Antisana Volcano

At 8.00 a.m. we pick you up in Quito, for a 1,5-hour transfer to Chakana Reserve on the western slopes of Antisana volcano. Two towering cliffs are the roosting and nesting sites for about 40 Andean Condors. We hike to the viewpoint searching to get sights of this iconic bird with its enormous 3-metre wing span. With some luck, we can observe them riding the air currents. Chakana is home to mammals like the spectacled bear, mountain tapir, and white-tailed deer. The 4-hour hike follows the Antisanilla lava flow through paramo wetlands with lakes and dense vegetation, to the base of Antisana with its huge glaciers.

In the afternoon we drive for 2,5 hours to La Alegria, a family-run hacienda with a working farm.

Day 2Quilotoa Crater Lake

Early departure for a scenic 2-hour ride with views of the Ilinizas twin peaks. Today´s destination is Quilotoa, the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian mainland. There is evidence that the pyroclastic flows of its last eruption, some 600 years ago, reached the Pacific Ocean. The collapsed volcano formed a crater lake with a diameter of 3 km / 2 mi and a depth of 250 m / 820 ft. Our hike following the crater rim takes 5 – 6 hours, at altitudes ranging from 3700 m / 12.139 ft to 3914 m / 12.841ft.  Enjoy the spectacular vistas of the emerald green lake, and Cotopaxi in the distance.

In the afternoon, 2-hour transfer to La Cienega. This hacienda has a history of more than 4 centuries with illustrious guests including Alexander von Humboldt.

Day 3Cotopaxi Volcano

After breakfast a short transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, named after one of the world´s highest active volcanoes. Cotopaxi´s symmetrical, snowcapped cone rises to 5897 m / 19.347 ft. We start with an easy 2-hour hike around Limpiopungo Lake at 3850 m. / 12.631ft. It is home to endemic birds including the Andean lapwing, Andean gull, and coots. With clear weather, you will have great views of Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui, a lower volcano with impressive rock walls.

We continue by car to the parking lot at 4600 m / 15.091 ft. from where we hike to the Jose Rivas refuge at 4800 m / 15.748 ft. and continue another 40 minutes to approach the Cotopaxi glacier. Descent and transfer of 2,5 hours to Hacienda Andaluza. Over 300 years old, it has a precious private museum in its corridors, beautiful gardens, and fine dining. 

Day 4Chimborazo and Templo Machay

After breakfast, we depart to Chimborazo, Ecuador´s highest peak at 6263 m / 20.548 ft. In 1802, Humboldt climbed it, though he was not able to summit due to altitude sickness. Our hike starts at an altitude of 4800 m / 15.748. A rocky trail leads to the Whymper hut, named after Edward Whymper who was the first to summit, in 1880. We hike down to Templo Machay, a natural cave on the south flank. This is a sacred site for the indigenous, they leave small offerings to Taita (Father) Chimborazo. The last part of this beautiful 5-hour hike traverses paramo with purple gentians and small herds of vicuñas.

The hike ends at Chimborazo Lodge, where we will spend the night. 

Day 5Tungurahua Hot Springs and Waterfall

From the lodge, we will drive for 1,5 hours to the southwestern slopes of Tungurahua volcano (5023 m / 16.479 ft) Its last eruption started in 1999, causing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The 4-hour hike starts at 2600 m / 8530 ft. The small uphill trail traverses a native forest with abundant vegetation, including ferns, mosses, bromeliads, and orchids. With a bit of luck, you can spot tanagers and flycatchers. At an altitude of 2830 m / 9284 ft, we arrive at the hot springs with thermal waters supplied by the volcano, surrounded by impressive rock formations. A short adventurous hike in a canyon takes us to the Ojo del Fantasma (Spooky Eye) waterfall with icy waters pouring through a small opening in the rocks.

Hike down and transfer to Quito, arriving at 18.00 p.m. (you also can stay in Baños or Riobamba).

Prices

Price

  • 1 person (private tour): USD 1490
  • Party of 2 – 3: USD 995 per person
  • Party of 4 – 5: USD 790 per person
  • Party of 6 – 8: USD 720 per person

Price Includes

  • All private transfers according to the itinerary
  • Accommodation in historic haciendas, including breakfast
  • Transportation of your luggage between haciendas
  • All day hikes with certified guides
  • Daily box lunch / lunch in local restaurant
  • Entrance permits National Parks and Reserves

Price Excludes

  • Travel insurance
  • Dinners
  • Tips (optional)