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3 days adventure in Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador

Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. But not only the volcano itself, but also the surrounding area of Cotopaxi is extremely impressive. We felt in the Cotopaxi National Park partly a bit like in the "Shire" from Lord of the Rings and had an absolutely exciting time there.

What you can experience in 3 days at Cotopaxi, you will learn in this article.

Abenteuer im Cotopaxi Nationalpark - Besteigung des Cotopaxi Basecamp


How to spend 3 days at the Cotopaxi National Park


1. Arrival and acclimatization at 3.5oom altitude

Cotopaxi is located in the Cotopaxi National Park in the Andes and with its 5,897m height one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. The easiest way is to travel directly to Cotopaxi from Ecuador's capital Quito by bus or private shuttle, as this is only a distance of 50km.

Quito is located at 2,850 meters above sea level, making it the highest capital in the world. For comparison - the highest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitze, is 2,962m high. At this altitude we had no problems yet, but if you travel south to Cotopaxi National Park, this can change quickly.

Besteigung Cotopaxi Vulkan in Ecuador bei Nacht

Our accommodation was located at 3,500m - since we arrived from the Amazon (about 900hm) we felt this difference physically and both had a slight headache on the day of arrival.

To counteract this, it is best to drink as much water as possible and give the body some time to get used to the new circumstances.

Around our accommodation it was really picturesque. Besides an insane view of Cotopaxi (even from our bedroom window!), we felt like we were in the Shire from Lord of the Rings.

...and lamas were there too!

Reisebericht Cotopaxi Nationalpark

We took another 2-hour tour the same day and hiked to nearby waterfalls in Cotopaxi National Park.

2. Hike to waterfalls in Cotopaxi National Park

Our first hike in the Cotopaxi National Park led us to nearby waterfalls. Within a 2-hour round trip hike we got first insights into the wonderful nature of this region.

Wanderung im Cotopaxi Nationalpark, Reisebericht

Until you reach the waterfalls, you hike an idyllic path along a stream.

Since you have to hike partly through the stream, we were equipped with rubber boots by our accommodation.

The hike itself was not particularly challenging, but had its pitfalls. For example, we had to climb up smaller boulders - not so easy with rubber boots without profile.

In addition, it was partly a bit rutischg, but who pays a little attention, has no problems here.

If it had been a little warmer that day, we could have even bathed at the foot of the waterfalls!

Wanderung im Cotopaxi Nationalpark

3. Hike to the base camp of Cotopaxi

Of course, we also wanted to see the Cotopaxi from close up. A hike to the 5,897m high summit is only for advanced climbers, you should really be familiar with these heights.

Therefore, we decided to hike to the base camp of Cotopaxi at 4,864 meters altitude.

Directly in the morning after breakfast, we were finally picked up by our guides at our accommodation and set off in an off-road vehicle in the direction of Cotopaxi.

Cotopaxi Nationalpark: Besteigung des Cotopaxi Vulkan in Ecuador

After about an hour we had already reached the parking lot directly at the volcano. From there the hike to the base camp starts.

Cotopaxi Nationalpark: Besteigung des Cotopaxi Vulkan in Ecuador

The hike itself is not demanding, but the height makes you relatively fast feel exhausted if you are not accustomed to this. Because then every step is directly twice as strenuous.

Cotopaxi Nationalpark: Besteigung des Cotopaxi Vulkan in Ecuador

Drinking water has very quickly become our best friend during the hike, thereby reducing the altitude load on the body.

Fellow travelers who had already been in the area longer and were therefore better accustomed to the altitude, had an immediately easier time.

We both had to fight with light to moderate headaches at that altitude.

The view of the national park during the hike is simply breathtaking. For us, this hike was really a very special experience.

Cotopaxi Nationalpark: Besteigung des Cotopaxi Vulkan in Ecuador

Shortly before the base camp, we could decide whether we want to stay there, or still want to hike up to a little over 5,000m to reach the glacier.

To get to the glacier of the Cotopaxi it takes about 30-40min.

The higher you hike, the more you notice the physical symptoms of the altitude, so at this point you have to decide individually how fit you still feel.

Arrived at the glacier, one is then finally rewarded with a wonderful view.

After a short time, the descent to the base camp starts, where you have the opportunity to drink a coca tea, which should help against symptoms of altitude.

4. Next stop Baños or: Returning to Quito

If you are already south of Quito, it is worthwhile to go directly to the next destination. Besides a relaxed atmosphere, a volcano over 5,000m high and some hot springs, there are also numerous waterfalls in Baños. The most famous waterfall in Baños is the "Pailón del Diablo" ("Devil's Gorge").

During our stay in Ecuador, we met a lot of tourists who had already been to Baños and reported only positive things about this area - unfortunately, due to road closures, we could not reach this destination anymore, so we took the bus back to Quito. it looks like we have to travel to Ecuador again to finally visit Baños! ;-)


Are you looking for more insights into our travels? Check out our Instagram channels, tom_rbg_ and anna_mser! If you have any questions about the routes, feel free to contact us through these channels anytime!


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