What to expect when you climb mountains in Ecuador?
Papagayo is ideally located within the Avenue of Volcanoes giving you up-close access to many volcanoes that are a short drive from the hostería. Visitors arrive daily to Ecuador to climb the country’s impressive mountains. Brag-worthy mountain climbs and spectacular panoramic views are at your fingertips, and Papagayo is a tranquil place to rest between your hiking expeditions.
The most well-known volcanoes are Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in Ecuador, and Chimborazo, the closest point to the sun from the center of earth. A 40-minute drive from Papagayo, Cotopaxi stands at 19,347 ft (5,897 m). A common day trip is hiking to the Jose Rivas refuge (at 15,750 ft / 4,800 m) where climbers can enjoy refreshing hot chocolate and empanadas. Not far from the refuge is the glacier, which is a short 650 ft (200 m) up from the refuge. Past the glacier, climbers are required to have an accredited guide and proper equipment.
Adventure-seekers wanting to summit Cotopaxi must do so with a certified guide, and Ecuadorian law requires that there must be one guide for every two people. After spending the evening in the Jose Rivas refuge, climbers ascend around midnight and arrive to stunning views at the summit in about 6 hours. Back at Papagayo, a celebratory lunch awaits you! You deserve it after you just summited Cotopaxi in all her grandeur. (Note: not everyone is guaranteed to summit as it largely depends on weather conditions).
Given the high altitude at Cotopaxi, it is highly recommended to acclimatize with a series of climbs prior to climbing Cotopaxi. We offer acclimatization programs that will adequately prepare you to summit Cotopaxi and/or Chimborazo. For example, the 7-day Cotopaxi Llama Express program takes you to 3 mountains before your ultimate challenge, Cotopaxi. Climbers will summit Pasochoa, Corazon, and Illinizas North before tackling Cotopaxi. The 10-day Chimborazo Prince Challenge program is for thrill-seeking climbing enthusiasts, taking you to the same mountains in the Cotopaxi Llama Express program and then culminating in climbing Chimborazo. These programs can be completed by everyone, from people with no experience to experienced climbers.
Surrounded by 9 volcanoes
At Papagayo, you have access to 9 nearby volcanoes. Descriptions of the other volcanoes are included below:
- Pasochoa: Keep an eye out for wildlife here, such as foxes, pumas, birds, horses and especially the Andean condor. This volcano has been inactive since the last ice age, and it is considered an easy acclimatization hike. On a clear day, you can have a good view of majestic Cotopaxi and other surrounding volcanoes. The crowning moment of Pasochoa is the humid cloud forest found inside the crater of the volcano.
- Corazon: The name Corazon means “heart” in Spanish, named accordingly due to the shape of the mountain. Majority of the hike is through the grasslands of the Paramo and the peak is a rock formation that requires a bit of climbing. With clear weather, the view from the summit of the surrounding landscape is breathtaking.
- Ilinizas North & Ilinizaas South: Ilinizas is a pair of volcanic mountains, and these twin mountains vary in difficulty. Ilinizas South maintains the humidity, and therefore has a glacier and snow. Because of this, Ilinizas South is a challenging technical climb and requires climbing equipment and a certified guide as mandated per Ecuadorian law. Ilinizas North is a great climb if you are looking for challenging non-technical ascent. Both mountains provide truly magnificent views.
- Rumiñahui: A volcano that has long been extinct, Rumiñahui is composed of three peaks. The view from Rumiñahui is splendid as you are able to see Corazon, Ilinizas, and the mighty Cotopaxi. The trail winds through the wispy grassland of the Paramo, and among the scenic views you can find wildflowers, rabbits, deer, and foxes. Pay attention and you might see a condor!