The hike on Cotopaxi

Ecuador has a number of active volcanoes and the Cotopaxi is one of them. Nonetheless you can hike it. It is not an easy hike because it goes up to almost 5.900m. But of course you start way higher up already otherwise I don’t think we would have managed the hike in just an hour.

Cotopaxi National Park @Ecuador

Before you start though you need some help in form of a coca tea. This natural stimulant is useful for a lot of things including preventing altitude sickness and increasing energy. You can get a cup in the visitors centre of the national park.

drinking coca tea @Ecuador

One more break before the trek begins is somewhere on the way up. With the car you can get quite far up and the Cotopaxi is always in view.

almost cloudless view on the Cotopaxi @Ecuador


Eventually you do stop though because everyone needs a picture with this volcano. Our trek would take us up to snow line. Quite impressive, don’t you think? If you want to take a look around, please click here.

the Cotopaxi is waiting for us @Ecuador

It sounds a lot longer and harder than it was in the end. Not that it wasn’t hard, because it was! But the car brings you up to about 4.500m and you only hike the last 400m. It doesn’t sound like much but the thin air is exhausting.

From the parking place you have two possibilities to go up. Either you use the serpentine as most tourists do or you just walk straight up through a ravine. The ravine looks a lot shorter distance but goes straight up with never any break in between. We took the serpentine.

parking at 4.500m on the Cotopaxi @Ecuador

slowly trekking up the serpentine @Cotopaxi

I managed to stick to the tactic of 100 steps and then a short break which made me finish the hike in a bit under an hour. I was breathless when I arrived on top but also elated.

first glimpse on the base camp of Cotopaxi @Ecuador

arrival at the base camp of Cotopaxi @Ecuador

After short break with the by now almost obligatory hot chocolate we made our way down. Through the ravine it was only 20 minutes.

the long walk up the ravine @Ecuador

going down the Cotopaxi @Ecuador

The Cotopaxi national park also features also a lake which can be slowly circled. Neither of us was in the mood for more walking and we kept to the walk way.

walk way by Limpiopungo Lake @Ecuador

Clouds were already moving in, not only around the lake but also on the Cotopaxi.

Limpiopungo Lake with dark clouds in the back @Ecuador

You can understand how happy we were that we did the hike in the morning. I am sure that with these clouds it’s not fun hiking up. The wind was already strong in the morning and without a wool hat and my hood I would have gotten an ear infection. Since we had such a sporty morning we deserved a big ice cream on the way to Banos. Yours, Pollybert

typical fruit and vanilla ice cream @Ecuador


  1. “It sounds a lot longer and harder than it was in the end.” Ha, so this is an alternative fact 😎 because it was that long and exactly as hard as it sounds 😉 I again (see Nepal Annapurna trekking) almost did not make it and I was totally exhausted when I arrived. Only really enjoyable for “mountain goat” type people ☺

    • I never said it was enjoyable. But a 45 minute trek even in this height is definitely not comparable to the 4000 steps of the Annapurna trek ;)

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