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On this trek we show you everything that Ecuador has to offer from stunning canyons and volcanoes to indigenous villages and cultural cities. This trek is a great alternative to the beautiful but yet very touristic places like Baños, Quilotoa or the Galapagos islands. Discover places of immense natural beauty and explore regions off the tourist trail. Enjoy breathtaking views of one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, spy on a range of rare species while trekking to the pristine Abraspungo valley and learn about the local culture by immersing yourself in a small indigenous community.
Where will you go?
What will you do?
Day 1: Arrive in Quito (2800m)
Welcome to Ecuador! Our adventure begins here in Quito where we will be welcomed by our local guide. Quito is located between 2800 and 3000 metres above sea level, so it’s common for explorers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of the age, gender or fitness. Today will therefore be a quiet day visiting the national museum to acclimatise.
Day 2: Quito city tour (3900m)
After a local and fresh breakfast, we jump on the Teleferiqo to enjoy a spectacular view of the whole city of Quito from the top of Cruz Loma (3900m). With good weather, we will be able to see Cotopaxi, Antisana, Cayambe and plenty other volcanoes. In the afternoon, we visit the old city of Quito with its dazzling array of churches and colourful buildings dating from the early days of the colony.
Day 3: Archaeological site visit and Cuicocha Lake (3246m)
After breakfast we drive to the Pedro Moncayo Canton to discover an important natural and archaeological heritage. This place is considered the most important archaeological site in the Northern Andes of Ecuador but only a few people know about it! After the visit, we will drive towards Cuicocha Lake located in the province of Imbabura, known as “the Province of Lakes”. We will have stunning views of San Pablo Lake and Imbabura volcano.
Day 4: Cotopaxi National Park (3800m) - 2 hours
This morning, we travel southward along the Pan-American Highway towards Cotopaxi National Park: one of the most impressive national parks in Ecuador. We start our trek and enjoy impressive views of snow-capped Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world (5897m). We stay overnight in a local guesthouse set amongst the dramatic Andean landscape.
Day 5: Chimborazo National Park (3800m) - 3 hours
We drive to the upper highlands of Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest volcano (6310m). We start our trek toward the amazing Abraspungo valley, a nesting site for condors, as well as many other Andean birds. We can enjoy great views of the glaciers of Chimborazo contrasting with the beautiful moorland grass of the lower lands of Carihuairazo volcano. Tonight we sleep in a local guesthouse.
Day 6-8: Altar trek (4300m) - 5 hours/day
The following 3 days are spent trekking in the Sangay National Park. El Altar is an extinct volcano surrounded by multicoloured lagoons, giant waterfalls and glacial lakes. It was once one of the tallest mountains on the planet until a giant eruption destroyed its summit over 500 years ago. We put all our equipment on horses and start trekking. Tonight, we sleep under the stars.
Day 9: Community day (3000m)
Today is a more relaxed day spent in an indigenous town near Riobamba. We have the opportunity to learn more about a local non-profit foundation that offers educational support to people in nearby communities. This is also a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the traditions and culture of this indigenous community. We can choose to take part in a cooking class or visit the authentic local market or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Days 10-12: Ingapirca trek (4420m) - 5 to 6 hours/day
Today we start another 3 day-long trek that takes us on the Ecuadorian Inca Trail. This trail once connected the Incan empire’s northern capital Quito with the city at its heart, Cuzco in Peru. This trek ending in the Ingapirca ruins offers some of the best preserved ruins in the former north of the Incan empire.
You have the option to shorten your trip by trekking only the Altar or the Ingapirca trek instead of doing both. Talk to us for more info.
Day 13: Cuenca (2550m)
This morning, we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the local culture by stopping in a few typical Ecuadorian towns and villages around Cuenca. We have some free time to walk around lovely little squares and parks, explore authentic local markets or taste delicious Ecuadorian dishes before transferring back to the beautiful old city of Cuenca.
Days 14: Waterfalls - 2 hours
Today the scenery becomes completely different. We drive through a dense rainforest full of tree ferns and palm trees before arriving in the Guayas Province where we start our hike. It requires a bit of climbing to get to the waterfalls but we won’t be disappointed! We have some time to relax or swim in the pristine pools of the waterfalls before transferring to Guayaquil for our last night in Ecuador.
If you are not yet ready to go home and want to continue your journey in Ecuador, we recommend you go to the beautiful coast of the country. Please get in touch for more info.
Day 15: Return flight back home
After breakfast it’s time to transfer to the airport in Guayaquil for our return flight back home.
What do you want to know?
How tough is this challenge?
This trip is recommended for those who are moderately fit and have a spirit of adventure and previous experience in trekking. It's a great trip to get a good overview of Ecuador. You will trek in a remote environment, where facilities will sometimes be different to what you would expect at home. You will reach a maximum altitude of 4420 meters above sea level so anyone undertaking this challenge should have experience with altitude trekking. In general, endurance training should be your primary focus. Begin slowly, without the weight of a pack, eventually adding weight as you increase your training pace, go up and down hills or mountains, take the stairs as much as possible (every little helps!). Supplement this activity with running, cycling, and/or swimming, for additional aerobic conditioning.
Do you organise training weekends?
Yes, our partner can offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK. These training weekends will help you become physically prepared for the challenge and will give you the opportunity to gather tips about equipment, health, teamwork etc. To book your training weekend, please get in touch.
Do I need a VISA?
British Citizens can visit Ecuador without a visa. You may be asked about your reason for travel and to provide evidence of a return or onward flight when you arrive. For any other nationality please check directly with your embassy. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ecuador. Without this minimum validity entry to the country will be denied.
Do I need to buy travel insurance?
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. You have to be covered for trekking at high altitude as well as medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. A copy will need to be sent to us before departure. If you haven't got a travel insurance, please visit our page "Before you travel" to get a quote and book your travel insurance.
What vaccinations/medications do I need?
It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical conditions with your doctor. You can also check the NHS website www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations for advice on vaccinations and medications. Please make sure you take enough of your personal medications for the entire duration of the trip. Parts of your trip go above 2800 meters where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of the age, gender and fitness. Please discuss your condition and medications available with your doctor.
What food will be served?
Breakfast will be served at the accommodation. It is usually coffee or tea, bread, butter, juice and eggs.
Lunch will be either in a restaurant (soup, main course, dessert) or a packed lunch taken en route (sandwich, fruits, drink).
Dinner will be at the accommodation (soup, main course, dessert).
What if I have dietary requirements?
We can cater for pretty much all diets (vegetarians, vegans, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc) but it may not be very varied especially in more rural areas. We will however always make sure you have enough to eat. It’s a good idea to bring some of your favourite snacks with you. Please let us know your dietary requirements at least 4 months before your trip starts.
What will be the weather like?
There are generally 2 seasons in Ecuador: rainy from December to April/May and dry from Mai/June to November. The warmest and driest months are June to September but the weather varies with temperatures determined more by the altitude and the area visited. Basically, you have to be ready for everything! Quito is usually sunny with temperatures going from 10°C in the morning to 18°C in the afternoon. Light rain showers can happen in the afternoon. In the Andes, temperatures can drop to 0°C until -5°C at night. During the day they can oscillate between 10°C to 18°C as well, depending on the altitude. In Guayaquil, the weather is completely different with temperatures going up to 30°C!
What is a typical day?
Breakfast is usually quite early around 7am. Your bag will need to be packed before breakfast. You will start trekking after breakfast and stop regularly. There will be a picnic lunch en route and plenty of time to stop and view the remarkable scenery. The trekking area is remote and home to a wide array of rare flora and fauna. The evenings are spent in basic, though beautifully located hotels or guesthouses where the food and facilities are fairly simple. Bedtime is quite early as getting as much rest as possible is very important.
Who will be walking with us?
You will be accompanied by your local guide and his team (assistant, driver). Your guide will set the pace and you should never overtake him. This is not a race! Back up support will never be far away and can be called in should there be an emergency.
What is the currency in Ecuador?
The Ecuadorian currency is the US Dollar. They do not accept US $100 bills, and lower denominations are advised. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com.
Do they accept Credit Cards?
Visa and Mastercard are accepted in big cities, but will not be accepted in the rural areas. Check with your bank regarding any charges applicable.
Are there any ATM’s available during the trek?
ATM’s are available in big cities only so please make sure you have enough cash with you for your trek.
Do I need to bring money?
All accommodation and most of the meals are included within the price of the trip, as well as water during the days of your trek. You will only need money in case of emergency or for tips, hiring specialist equipment, additional food & drink, gifts & souvenirs etc.
What is the recommendation for tipping?
All our staff is paid a fair wage. However, tourism is a tipping culture, and the local staff will generally receive a tip at the end of a job well done. We recommend approximately US$5-US$7 per person per day for the guide(s) and US$1-US$3 per person per day for the driver. This should be given to the staff at the end of the adventure.
What type of accommodation are you using?
In big cities, we always try to book nice and comfortable hotels near the city centre with en-suite bathrooms. During your trek, you will be staying in guesthouses in rural areas where the accommodation can be more basic. During the Altar and Ingapirca treks, you will be camping.
Do I need to carry my own bag?
During the day you will only have to carry your day bag with your essentials (extra layers, water, snacks, sun cream, medications, waterproofs etc). Your main bag will be transferred each day to the next hotel so you will have it with you every evening. If you need help to carry your day bag please get in touch as you might be able to hire a porter to help you.
Do I need any specific documents with me?
Please always carry with you your passport (leave a copy in your main bag) and your insurance details.
What should I pack?
Once your trip is booked we will send you a gear list. The essential packing list is:
- Travel documents: passport with visa (if required), travel insurance, flights tickets and photocopies of these documents
- Money: cash/credit card kept in a money belt
- Personal medication
- Daypack (30L to 50L) and duffle bag (80L to 100L)
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes (already broken in) with good walking socks
- Head torch with spare batteries
- Electrical adapter plug (for more information please check www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/)
- Toiletries/travel wipes and travel towel
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses
- Refillable water bottle (no disposable plastic bottles) and Platypus/camelbak
- Wind and waterproof rain jacket and trousers
- Camera with spare batteries
Can you teach me a few words in the local language?
Hi – Hola
Good morning – Buenos días
Good night – Buenas noches
Please – Por favor
Thank you - Gracias
How are you? - ¿Cómo está?
Good, thank you – Bien, gracias
Nice to meet you - Mucho gusto