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Trekking and Mountain Biking in Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park: Hiking & Mountain Biking

Cotopaxi Volcano is right in the heart of Cotopaxi National Park, an enormous nature reserve in the Ecuadorian Andes mountains. The 33,393-hectare (82,515-acre) reserve is the most popular national park in terms of the number of visitors in the country and reaches into three different provinces: Cotopaxi, Pichincha, and Napo. The jewel of the park is Cotopaxi Volcano, with its peak altitude of 5,897m (19,347ft). It is one of the few “nevados” (snow and glacier-capped mountains) in Ecuador.

There’s so much to explore here, but with Ecuador Adventure, you will see all of the highlights on either the Mountain Biking 1-day Tour or the Cotopaxi 1-day Hike.

Adjust to the altitude

Before heading out on one of these treks, it’s a good idea to acclimatize to the altitude. Spend a few days in Quito before lacing up your boots, and you should be fine.

Remember – This park is very high up, meaning the air is much thinner. Not only is it a bit chillier (after all, it is a snow-covered peak) but it can also be harder to breathe when exerting a lot of energy. The more you are conditioned and prepared, the better you will feel.

Effort level: Both of these tours (hiking & biking) require only moderate effort level; they certainly aren’t for the faint of heart, but you don’t need to be a mountaineer either. A positive attitude, a full water bottle, and a healthy, ambitious heart are all you will need to tackle this adventure.

What to bring:

  • Layered clothing
  • Rain shell
  • Sunblock
  • Gloves
  • Appropriate socks, shoes, or boots
  • Camera/ binoculars
  • Sunglasses
  • Cash for tips & personal expenses

Biking in Cotopaxi National Park

This is the perfect tour if you’re hoping to combine history with adventure. Once we depart from Quito in the morning, we will journey across the picturesque “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” When we arrive in Cotopaxi National Park, the adventure begins with a short hike around Limpiopungo Glacier Lake, to allow you to breathe in the fresh air in this pristine paramo ecosystem.

From here, we will get on the bikes and begin our journey. We start at the base of Volcan Rumiñahi and follow the trail in the shadow of Cotopaxi’s marvelous, snow-covered cone.

The trail ends at the Pucara Inca ruins, where you will be able to take time to explore this ancient site. We will enjoy a nice picnic lunch before heading back to Quito in the afternoon.

The ride will be: Mostly downhill, some flats, and a few short, easy climbs.

The package includes: private transportation, professional biking guide, quality mountain bikes, gloves, helmets, lunch, and snacks.

Travel time: 2 hours each way

Ride time: 3 hours    

Hiking in Cotopaxi National Park

We start in Quito and head through the Avenue of the Volcanoes to arrive at Limpiopungo Glacier Lake, observing the paramo ecosystem and the abundant waterfowl that it supports, like gulls, ducks, and Falcons.

From here, we hike all around the lake and the foothills of Rumiñahi Volcano, while our professional guide weaves the stories of civilizations past and explains more about the natural environment.

The day ends with a picnic lunch at the Pucara Inca ruins, before returning to Quito.

The package includes: private transportation, professional guide, lunch & snacks.

Travel time: 2 hours each way

Trek time: 3 hours