This multi-activity 3-day trip in the Ecuador Highlands offers adventure by day and high comfort by night. During this trip, you'll hike up a volcano, do a high ropes course, go horseback riding and enjoy a cooking class. Nights will be spent at a cozy and historic hacienda, a short drive from the capital Quito.

Highlights

  • Hike to the spectacular Condor Machay Waterfall
  • Challenge yourself on the Cotopaxi High Ropes Course
  • Go horseback riding on the slopes of Rumiñahui volcano
  • Enjoy hearty meals and comfortable lodging at a historic hacienda
  • Climb the slopes of Cotopaxi Volcano to an elevation of 15,744 ft.

Overview

This short 3-day tour takes you into the Ecuadorian highlands, less than two-hours drive from Quito. Here you'll find a comfortable base at a farmhouse-turned-hotel, and explore the nearby hiking trails that cut across canyons and high plains. The trip offers adventure in the form of horse riding, climbing on Cotopaxi Volcano and time spent on a ropes course. This is a perfect trip for travelers who want adventure in the mountains, combined with excellent accommodation and hearty meals. 

Brief Itinerary

Day  Activity  Overnight 
Day 1 Hiking in Santa Rita Ecological Reserve, Cotopaxi High Ropes Course Hacienda El Porvenir
Day 2 Horseback Riding Rumiñahui Volcano and Cooking Classes Hacienda El Porvenir
Day 3 Cotopaxi National Park Visit Quito

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Hiking in the Highlands and a high ropes course

Condor Machay Waterfall spills out of the Ecuador highlands

This morning we travel from Quito to Hacienda Santa Rita, a private eco-reserve located at an elevation of 10,500 ft (3200 m). After stretching our legs we set off on a three-hour hike. The first hour of walk leads us to Condor Machay Waterfall. Wooden stairs and railings are available in steep parts of the trail. At the end of a dirt trail, we can see the Pita River as it flows over petrified lahars (mudflow) and finally we spot the waterfall. 

The final two hours we walk along the La Letra Trail, a hike that follows paths between grassland and pastures. We cross the rive on sturdy bridges and will have opportunities to spot turkey, ducks, hummingbirds and other birdlife. A great variety of paramo plants and trees line the trails. Along the way, we will have nice views of Cotopaxi, Sincholagua and Rumiñahui volcanoes. Lunch will be served at Hacienda El Porvenir.

The afternoon will be spent at the Cotopaxi High Ropes Course. Here you will learn climbing techniques as you make your way through the course. This course is designed for all ages and abilities. 

Day 2: Horseback riding and cooking classes

A cooking class is a great way to experience Ecuadorian cuisine. 

After breakfast, we take a brief riding lesson and set off on a trail ride on horseback. We will be outfitted with clothing typical of the chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) and will ride along the slopes of Rumiñahui, a dormant volcano. Part of this four-hour ride includes a meeting with a well-known local chagra, who will share his knowledge of this area. 

We return to the farmhouse for lunch and then we can do some activities on-site, such as milking cows and cooking a traditional meal. We overnight again in Hacienda El Porvenir.

Day 3: Visit Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi Volcano

Enjoy a traditional breakfast and then get ready to visit Cotopaxi National Park.

Our day in the park starts with a short hike up to the climbing hut (Refugio José Ribas) at 15,744 ft (4798 m). The hike gives us the chance to appreciate the sheer immensity and beauty of the volcano. After hiking back to the car park we drive to Limpiopungo Lake, where we have a picnic lunch.

If there is time, we will visit the Park Visitors Centre, which has interesting descriptions of the local flora and fauna as well as details of the various eruptions of Cotopaxi.  Next, we cross rocky valley before reaching Pucará del Salitre, a ruined Inca fortress. This area has some natural springs which rise from underground rivers that come from the glaciers of Cotopaxi.

We return to Quito by evening after completing three adventurous days in the highlands.

 

Map

Map of Multi-Adventure in the Ecuadorian Highlands - 3 Days
Map of Multi-Adventure in the Ecuadorian Highlands - 3 Days