Climbing Ecuador: Land of Volcanoes

Get ready to experience Ecuador




LODGING: Mix of hotels, haciendas, camping

GROUP SIZE: 12 people Max

Ecuador Volcano Climbing Overview

Welcome to Ecuador: the land of world-class surfing, the Amazon Rainforest,
and the Andes Mountains. Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries on
earth and one of the most fascinating countries one can visit in South America.

12 years ago, Epic Founder Chris Lininger spent six months exploring Ecuador
and fell in love with the country and its people. Now, Chris and Epic Expeditions
are heading back to climb some of the country’s highest peaks (and active

Our goals will be climbing Ecuador’s major volcanoes: Cayambe (5,790m/18,996ft), Cotopaxi (5,897m/19,347ft), and Chimborazo (6,310m/20,702ft).

For those of you who have joined us for the K2 Base Camp Trek, Snow Lake
Trek, or Island Peak in Nepal, this is a great next step to challenge yourself at
higher altitudes and attempt three new peaks in one trip. If you are new to Epic Expeditions – this trip is a great place to start your adventure journey with us. 

Are you ready for the challenge? 

climbing ecuador volcanoes

Who This Trip is For

This Ecuadorian climbing trip is for you if you want to experience…  

  • 3 Volcano Climbs in 1: There are few other destinations in the world where you can summit multiple 5000+ meter peaks in a week or less. For those who are short on time and want to climb as much as possible, this is a rare opportunity. 
  • A step up from trekking: though the volcanos of Ecuador are no walk in the park, they are relatively accessible to new or aspiring climbers. For those of you who have joined Epic in the past on longer treks, like K2 Base Camp or the Fann Mountains, this itinerary will provide an excellent challenge.
  • The chance to develop alpine skills: over the course of two weeks mountain climbing in Ecuador, you will be exposed to not only a variety of physical and mountainous trials but also new climbing equipment and techniques. Although this is not a technical mountaineering course, it is still an educational experience.
  • Diverse Andean landscapes: Ecuador is famous for its geographical and biological diversity. While the alpine areas will be our main focus, guests will still have plenty of opportunities to see Ecuador’s bustling cities, jungles, highlands, and watersheds.
  • Comfortable camps and accommodation: of the 15 nights featured on this Ecuador climbing itinerary, only 1 will require us to set up camp. The rest will be a mixture of welcoming haciendas, hotels, and mountain huts. While we love crashing in a tent after a long day, we’ll take modern amenities when we can.
  • Real team spirit: by now, Epic Expeditions has a very loyal following. We attract adventurous, optimistic people who are ready to tackle anything that comes their way. Come with us on a trip, and you’re sure to meet some like-minded people along the way, and maybe even life-long friends.

Upcoming Dates





January 11th - 25th, 2025LIMITED$600$3875

Have a question or ready to book?

Whether you’re just curious about this trip or are ready to make a deposit, we’re here for you.

To submit an inquiry or make a trip deposit, please fill out and submit the form below.

Your Trip Leader

hiking in Bolivia

Chris Lininger

Since 2018, Chris has been traveling to remote corners of the world leading Epic Expeditions. Every year he leads group trips to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan, the Everest region in Nepal, the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, and other destinations in Central and East Asia, and South America. He is the director and founder of Epic Expeditions.

Chris wanted to take the concept of an adventure holiday a step further by combining his passion for photography, trekking, climbing, and alpine environments into one-of-a-kind curated adventures for people who are as stoked on challenging adventures and discovering new cultures as he is – thus this trip was born! 

Highlights of the Tour

  • Chance to climb three 5000+ meter peaks: Cayambe, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo
  • A proven itinerary that includes proper acclimatization
  • Superlative Ecuadorian scenery, from mountains to rivers to valleys
  • An attainable challenge for hikers interested in alpinism
  • Urban exploration in the capital of Quito
  • Comfortable lodging, even while climbing Ecuador’s volancoes
  • Ecuadorian mountain towns and hospitality
  • Learn new climbing skills
  • Trek with a fun international group of like-minded individuals
  • Coffee, coffee, and more coffee

Ecuador Volcanoes Itinerary

Today is the day! Arrive at Quito International Airport and transfer to our comfy hotel in Quito. The team has our first group meeting and briefing as we go over the plan for the next few weeks together.

Enjoy our first team welcome dinner as you connect with Epic friends old and new over a pint and fabulous local fare.

Accommodation: Hotel

Following breakfast, our guides will conduct a thorough equipment check and brief the group on the expedition’s details. Our journey commences with a hike to Ilaló Volcano, standing at 2,572 meters (8,438 feet) amidst the serene landscape between the San Pedro River to the west and Chiche River to the east, just eight kilometers east of Quito.

Ilaló emerges from a lush Andrean valley. The river divides this valley into two distinct parts: Valle de Los Chillos to the south and Valle de Tumbaco to the north. Southward lies Milivaro, a dormant lava dome. The entire volcanic complex is cloaked in cangahua, a fertile ash borne by winds from neighboring, younger volcanoes.

The hike to Ilaló, spans three to four hours, and offers killer panoramic vistas of neighboring peaks, including Pasochoa, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, and Cayambe from the summit.

Accommodation: Hotel

Today we do an acclimatization hike to  Cerro Pasochoa, standing at 4,200 meters (13,780 feet). The Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge, preserved since 1982, offers a glimpse into how Ecuadorean mountain landscapes were pre -Spanish times. As we trek through the forest below Cerro Pasochoa, we’ll encounter various tree species such as pumamaqui, polyapis, podocarpus, and sandalwood. Remember how we said Ecuador is diverse? Keep an eye out for the abundant native birds, with over a hundred species in this area.

Accommodation: Hotel

Our final acclimatization hike takes us to Rucu Pichincha (4,784m/15,696ft), located to the east of Quito in the Pichincha Massif. We’ll begin by taking an epic cable car ride above the city, followed by a hike on trails through rolling hills, with a few rock scrambles along the way. From the summit, we’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Central Valley, offering a unique perspective of Quito from above.

Later in the afternoon, we’ll journey to Hacienda Guachala, one of Ecuador’s oldest haciendas, dating back to 1580. This historic property retains its rustic charm and holds significance as Edward Whymper’s base before his first ascent of Cayambe in 1880.

Accommodation: Hotel

We journey through the quaint village of Cayambe, where we’ll observe the simple rural architecture characteristic of Andean foothill villages. As we ascend, the road gradually becomes more challenging interesting. Depending on road conditions, we may opt to hike the final stretch, allowing our jeeps to proceed with our equipment. Upon reaching the renowned Cayambe Refuge, we’ll be greeted by awe-inspiring views of the Glaciar Hermoso, aptly named the “beautiful glacier.”

In the afternoon, we’ll embark on a brief hike above the camp, possibly reaching the entrance to the upper glacier, which may take up to two hours. If weather permits, we’ll be treated to the spectacular alpenglow at sunset, revealing our route up the south and western flanks of Cayambe.

Accommodation: Hacienda

Today will primarily focus on practicing our alpine climbing skills in preparation for our summit attempt on Cayambe. We’ll spend ample time on the glacier near the hut, utilizing it as an ideal setting to learn and practice essential glacier travel skills, ice ax and crampon techniques, and self-arrest maneuvers.

Following our time on the ice, we’ll return to the refuge for a debrief and to solidify our plan for the upcoming summit day. Card games, a hearty meal, and plenty of hydration are on the evening agenda.

Accommodation: Mountain Hut

We begin our ascent of Cayambe in the early hours of the morning, taking advantage of the firm snow conditions created by cooler nighttime temperatures. The initial part of the route involves navigating varied terrain on rock until we reach the glacier, where we organize our teams for glacier travel.

Snow and ice climbing on Cayambe is generally moderate, with slopes peaking at a manageable 35 degrees. A significant landmark along the way is the Picos Jarrin at 5,300 meters (17,390 feet), offering a suitable spot for a rest. Beyond this point, the route becomes slightly steeper and more exposed to the weather.

As we approach the summit, the final challenge presents itself in the form of a steep face, requiring careful route finding. Negotiating around seracs and crevasses adds to the excitement, culminating in the achievement of this classic Ecuador Volcano route.

Following our descent, we return to spend the night at Hacienda Guachala.

Accommodation: Mountain Hut

Today we shall have a bit of rest with no planned hiking.

We depart from Cayambe and head towards the Cotopaxi region, staying at one of the fine haciendas or lodges situated on the north side of Cotopaxi National Park. We take this opportunity to reflect on our team’s performance during our climb of Cayambe and to strategize for the upcoming ascent of Cotopaxi. While it’s a well-deserved day of rest, you’ll also have the chance to take a leisurely walk  and soak in the views of the area.

*Note in case of closure of Cotopaxi National Park, we will climb Antisana (5,753 meters/18,875 ft) instead.

Accommodation: Hacienda Guesthouse

The morning kicks off with our journey through the “Valley of Volcanoes,” heading east towards Cotopaxi. Along the way, we’ll be greeted by the majestic summits of Ruminahui, Sincholagua, and Quilindana, standing tall in Cotopaxi National Park.

As we ascend to approximately 4,600 meters (15,100 feet), keep an eye out for sightings of wild horses, llamas, and condors.

Our destination is the José Ribas Hut, nestled on Cotopaxi’s flank at 4,794 meters (15,729 feet), accessible after a forty-five-minute climb with our full packs.

Accommodation: Mountain Hut

Summit day #2!

We’ll depart from the hut well before dawn to take advantage of the good snow conditions. Our journey begins on non-glaciated slopes, gradually transitioning to uniform snow and ice ramps with inclines ranging between 30 and 35 degrees. As dawn breaks, we’re greeted by sweeping views of Antisana, towering to the north at 5,704 meters (18,714 feet). Negotiating occasional snow bridges and avoiding large crevasses, we steadily ascend towards the massive summit cone.

Approaching the base of Yanasacha, a 120-meter (400-foot) rock wall, we encounter the formidable bergschrund at the foot of the final glacial slopes leading to the summit. Progressing onto steeper ice faces, reaching up to approximately 55 degrees, we navigate through some of Ecuador’s most classic snow and ice-climbing pitches.

As the gradient becomes gentler, we finally reach the crater rim and continue along easier slopes to reach the summit of Ecuador’s second highest peak. From the top, we’re treated to incredible views of nine major equatorial peaks and the vast Amazon Basin sprawling to the east, with Cotopaxi’s impressive 300-meter (1,000-foot) deep summit crater directly beneath us.

Following our descent, we return to our hacienda in the Central Valley to feast and celebrate yet another Epic day together.

Accommodation: Hacienda Guesthouse

Time to get south again, traversing the renowned “Valley of Volcanoes” via the Pan-American Highway, passing through the towns of Latacunga and Ambato. En route, we pause for lunch before continuing our drive.

By afternoon, we ascend to the eastern slopes of Chimborazo, where we settle into a lodge situated at 3,499 meters (11,480 feet). Nestled amidst grassy plains below Chimborazo, the lodge offers a picturesque setting for us to unwind and admire the panoramic views of the Ecuadorian Altiplano, with Chimborazo and its counterpart, Carihuairazo, standing majestically in the backdrop.

Accommodation: Hacienda Guesthouse

We are on the move again! Leaving the lodge on the eastern side of Chimborazo, we drive across the volcano to its western flank, passing through the town of Riobamba.

The province of Chimborazo is characterized by its hilly terrain and a significant indigenous population. During our journey, we’ll be treated to impressive views of the Chimborazo massif, rolling Andean landscapes, and sightings of wild vicuñas and llamas. By midday, we’ll arrive at the Carrel Hut (4,800 meters/15,700 feet) for lunch.

In the afternoon, we’ll embark on a two-hour hike to the Stübel Camp (4,900 meters/16,100 feet). Climbers will carry their personal gear while porters handle water, tents, and food.

As we prepare for our midnight start, we’ll enjoy an early dinner. Despite our stoke building for the summit push ahead, we’ll prioritize rest and try to go to bed early in anticipation of a big ascent the next morning. Depending on mountain conditions, the team may opt to stay at the Whymper or Carrel huts for a direct summit attempt from there.

Accommodation: Tents

It’s summit day, baby!

Starting from Stübel Camp, we’ll trace our path along the Stübel Glacier until it merges with the Castle Saddle at 5,499 meters (18,044 feet). The journey to the Whymper summit typically spans about eight hours from Stübel Camp. As we ascend, the technical challenges lessen, and we’ll find ourselves navigating compact and moderately angled snow for the remainder of the route.

The summit crater area sprawls expansively, usually covered either in soft snow or nieve penitentes formations. Despite being our longest day, our thorough acclimatization from previous climbs will serve us well. The round trip will take approximately 10 to 12 hours, involving traversing ice ramps, snow bridges, and sections of icefall. It’s a fun and dynamic route on an impressively grand mountain.

Following our descent to the Carrel Hut, we’ll continue by vehicle to the lower altitude and oxygen-rich town of Baños, situated on the edge of the Amazon Basin.

Accommodation: Hacienda Guesthouse

The normal plan is to return to Quito from Baños after breakfast. In the event day 13 is utilized as a rest day due to unfavorable weather conditions, then we will push the summit day until day 14. If we climb on Day 14, we will hike out after reaching the summit and then drive back to Quito, where we will spend the night.

Accommodation: Hotel

Alas our Epic odyssey has come to an end. Today is departure day. If your schedule permits, we advise you to stick around in Quito for a few more days to rest and soak in the events of the last few weeks.

Standard checkout form the hotel is around 12 noon on Day 15. We can organize additional nights’ accommodation for anyone wishing to stay in Quito.

What People Have to Say

Ecuador Mountaineering FAQ

Ecuador is a great place to pick up mountaineering if you haven’t already done so. Climbing the volcanoes on this itinerary is relatively straightforward compared to other high-altitude, technical climbs found in regions like the Peruvian Andes, Karakoram, and Himalayas. There will be challenges, but nothing that a strong hiker with the proper support, equipment, and guidance can’t handle.

So long story short: you do not need any technical climbing experience to come mountaineering with us in Ecuador. Only an affinity for the mountains, great fitness, and a good attitude.



Despite recent political upheavals, Ecuador is generally safe for tourists, including climbers. The majority of the time spent in Ecuador will be outside of urban areas, where crime and unrest are more common.

However, as with any travel destination, it’s essential to take normal precautions to ensure your safety. This includes staying aware of your surroundings, avoiding risky areas, and following any specific instructions provided by your guide and local authorities. This applies not only in the cities, but when we are in the wilds climbing the volcanoes of Ecuador as well.

Climbing in Ecuador offers a unique experience compared to other locations around the world due to its diverse range of terrain and ecosystems. As we’ve already mentioned, the opportunity to climb so many high-altitude volcanoes is a rare gift.

Ecuador’s proximity to the equator also means that climbers can experience both tropical and alpine climates during their expeditions. Despite being mostly a tropical nation, you can also find snow 365 days a year in the Andes, not to mention some of the most impressive glaciers outside of the polar regions. 

We will be staying in a mix of 3-star hotels, Hacienda-style guesthouses, and mountain huts during the climb plus a few nights in tents when we attempt Chimborazo. In Quito, we will be staying within walking distance of many shops, restaurants, and bars. A nice breakfast is included at every hotel stay. Hotels have been carefully selected to ensure we get a good night’s rest at every stop on our journey!

For Cayambe and Cotopaxi, we will be staying at beautifully located basic, but comfortable mountain huts located along the climbing route and will be launching our summit attempts directly from the hut. For Chimborazo, we stay at one high camp, the night before our summit push.

Single Supplement hotel room (10 nights): $850 USD

You are not required to carry your full bag with all your gear for any large trekking distances throughout this trip. Most of the time, our gear is transported via jeep directly to that nights’ accommodation. 

Porters will present on the ascent to Chimborazo High Camp and guests will only have to carry personal gear in a daypack on this day.

Connectivity and WiFi availability can vary depending on the location of the climb. While major cities and towns in Ecuador typically have reliable internet access, remote mountainous areas may have limited or no connectivity. 

That being said, getting cell reception while at one of the high camps is not unheard of. 

As we always recommend on any Epic trip, this is a good time to unplug and take a digital detox. It will help you focus on the task at hand (mountaineering in Ecuador) and keep a clear head.

The following meals are included in the trip price:

  • Breakfast on days 2 to 15
  • Box lunch or restaurant lunch on days 2 to 14
  • Dinner on days 4 to 13

Dinners in Quito are paid on your own (cost is approximately $13-20 USD per person depending on what you order).

Trip participants need to be in good shape and capable of trekking over mixed terrain for long distances (maximum 8 hours). On average our trekking days are 5 hours per day. Local porters will be present in some cases to help us carry the supplies that will make climbing Ecuador’s volcanoes a comfortable and rewarding experience.

The biggest day will be Chimborazo summit day; when the climb will take between 10-12 hours depending on conditions and your fitness level from high camp to summit and back to high camp. So you will be saving some energy for this day for sure!

For more information, please refer to our trekking fitness guide.

Additional Resources