Best of Cotopaxi

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Cotopaxi
The perfect conical peak of Volcán Cotopaxi soars high above the high-altitude Andean grasslands and is encircled by a national park where you can go hiking, wildlife watching and horseback riding. Most people come for outdoor activities, but you can also come to Cotopaxi to reconnect with nature. The park is home to historic mountain lodges where you can unwind while experiencing the beauty of one of the world’s highest volcanoes. 

Scenic trails crisscross Cotopaxi National Park. Highlights of a day’s hike include a visit to Lake Limpiopungo, for a look at the massive rocks that were expelled during Cotopaxi's last eruption. You can get a glimpse back in time at the pre-Incan ruins of Salitre, or make the challenging ascent to the Jose Ribas Refuge, set at an elevation of 15,748 feet (4800m). For a different perspective, see the mountainous landscape on a two-hour horseback riding excursion or go mountain biking along the base of the volcano.
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Explore the Cotopaxi Region in Ecuador
Best of the Cotopaxi Region

In the central highlands south of Quito, Cotopaxi province boasts some of Ecuador’s most popular attractions. As well as the eponymous volcano, there are charming market towns, shimmering lakes, evocative festivals, nature reserves and much more to explore.

A beach on Bartolomé Island in the Galapagos
Ecuadorian Highlands & Galapagos Islands Adventure - 14 Days

This sweeping two-week adventure showcases the diversity of Ecuador. From busy marketplaces in the city to thermal baths in the highlands, from peaceful bays in the Galapagos to the lush landscapes of the cloud forest, this itinerary has something for everyone. Highlights include hiking in Cotopaxi National Park, shopping in Otavalo Market, sightseeing in the bustling city of Quito, and snorkeling and swimming around the gorgeous islands of the Galapagos archipelago.

Countryside near Riobamba
Map of Best of the Ecuadorian Highlands - 7 Days
Best of the Ecuadorian Highlands - 7 Days

Traverse the very best of the Ecuadorian highlands on this 7-day itinerary. Starting and finishing in the capital, Quito, you will encounter bustling markets, awe-inspiring volcanoes, centuries-old colonial towns and Inca ruins. There's great hiking along the way in terrain ranging from glaciers and high-level plateau through to forests and waterfalls.

Ziplining towards a waterfall near the town of Baños
Map of Ecuador Highlands & Amazon - 7 Days
Ecuador Highlands & Amazon - 7 Days

This action-packed 7-day tour of Ecuador is perfect for travelers searching for adventure, culture and spectacular scenery all within a few hours' drive from the capital Quito. The trip begins with a thrilling bike ride down an active volcano and continues with hikes in the cloud forest, a climb up a waterfall and visits to an indigenous community. There will be plenty of opportunities to unwind too, with stops at hot springs and a quiet, mountainside hacienda.

Unspoiled beaches and turquoise waters in the Galápagos
Map of Ultimate Ecuador: Quito, Baños, Cotopaxi & the Galápagos - 10 Days
Ultimate Ecuador: Quito, Baños, Cotopaxi & the Galápagos - 10 Days

Adventure awaits on this exhilarating 10-day journey through Ecuador. Starting in the country's rugged Andean highlands, you'll hike and horseback ride through a landscape of towering volcanoes, crater lakes, and dramatic waterfalls before hopping over to the Galápagos to discover some of the most remarkable biodiversity on earth. Explore uninhabited islands, snorkel with sharks, and get your adrenaline pumping as you rappel deep into a dormant volcano.

The Chimborazo Volcano
Map of Volcanoes of Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Guayaquil - 7 Days
Volcanoes of Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Guayaquil - 7 Days

This weeklong itinerary is perfect for travelers who are interested in seeing the astoundingly beautiful landscapes of Ecuador. Travel along the Andean highlands to see ancient volcanoes, sacred waterfalls, and lagoons before ending your trip in the lush coastal lowlands. At the end of each adventurous day, you will be able to relax at beautifully restored haciendas that will allow you to step back in time.

Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Ecuadorian Adventure in Quito: Otavalo, Cotopaxi, & Cloud Forest - 7 Days
Ecuadorian Adventure in Quito: Otavalo, Cotopaxi, & Cloud Forest - 7 Days

Use Ecuador's capital as your base for this adventure-packed, weeklong trip. Explore Quito's colonial past and visit the equator line, head to the lush Mindo Cloud Forest to see its incredible diversity of wildlife, and browse local markets for handmade art and handicrafts. No trip to Ecuador would be complete without a visit to one of the country's volcanos, and you'll get to hike two: Quilotoa and Cotopaxi. 

Pailón del Diablo waterfall
Discover Ecuador's Cultural Highlights & Natural Wonders - 8 Days

Experience Ecuador's natural wonders and lively capital city on this 8-day adventure. You'll base yourself in Quito for most of the itinerary, exploring the city's museums and taking an Ecuadorian cooking class before heading out into the surrounding wilderness. Day-trip to beautiful Cuicocha Lagoon, shop for handicrafts in the famous Otavalo Market, and hike through the Mindo cloud forest, returning to Quito each evening. Then you'll move on to Cotopaxi National Park, sleeping in a traditional hacienda. Finish up the trip in Baños, where you'll feel the spray of magnificent waterfalls and enjoy sweeping views of the mountains before heading back to Quito for one last overnight.

Cuicocha Lagoon
Map of Ecuador Mountains to Coast: Andes, Quito, Cotopaxi, & More - 10 Days
Ecuador Mountains to Coast: Andes, Quito, Cotopaxi, & More - 10 Days

From Quito's colonial center to the volcanoes of Cotopaxi National Park, explore the best of Ecuador's mainland on this packed 10-day itinerary. Hike along the rim of volcanic lagoons, barter for Ecuadorian handicrafts at markets, and visit small mountain villages. You'll see cascading waterfalls, lush orchid farms, high altitude plateaus, and much more as you traverse the countryside.

Quito's Plaza Grande
Coffee & Chocolate: A Taste of Ecuador - 13 Days

This 13-day tour of Ecuador will tap all of your senses, from seeing historical sights to tasting local chocolate and smelling fresh coffee. Start in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to see the Cathedral and Plaza de San Francisco and participate in a chocolate tour. Outside of the city, learn about the process of how coffee is made at a local farm. Take the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train ride to see the scenic countryside, and stay in the colonial-era city of Cuenca known for its nightlife and dining.

School of Fish in the Galapagos
Map of Best of Ecuador: Quito, Amazon, Cotopaxi, & Galapagos  - 14 Days
Best of Ecuador: Quito, Amazon, Cotopaxi, & Galapagos - 14 Days

Experience the best of Ecuador while getting to know its three main ecological regions: the Amazon rainforest, volcano highlands, and Galapagos Islands on this 14-day itinerary. Start the trip in Quito to see the UNESCO designated colonial city center, then head to the rainforest for three days at an ecolodge. Hike near volcanic lagoons and browse mountain markets, then catch a flight to Santa Cruz for three days of exploring uninhabited islands and spotting endemic wildlife.

Baby Alpaca
Map of Multi Country South America Adventure: Ecuador & Peru - 14 Days
Multi Country South America Adventure: Ecuador & Peru - 14 Days

Experience the best of Ecuador's mainland and Peru's highlights on this two-week trip. Start in Quito to tour the UNESCO-designated city center, then head to the Amazon for cultural experiences with the Kichwa indigenous community, wildlife viewing, and a peaceful rainforest atmosphere. Return to Quito by way of Cotopaxi National Park, home to the eponymous volcano. Then, catch a flight to Lima—the urban hub of Peru. End the trip with a visit to Cusco's pre-Inca ruins and a tour of the Sacred Valley and imperial Machu Picchu residence.

"Chagras" Cowboys in Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Trekking in Ecuador's Highlands: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, & More - 14 Days
Trekking in Ecuador's Highlands: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, & More - 14 Days

Spend two weeks exploring mountainous landscapes in a country that's equally famous for its volcanoes and rainforest. From Quito's colonial city center to the high-elevation hacienda refuge on Cotopaxi, you'll trek through historic sites and stunning nature. Spot rare Andean condors, haggle for goods at a mountain market, summit volcanoes, and more. 

Snowy massif
Map of Hiking in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador - 7 Days
Hiking in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador - 7 Days

Ecuador is famous for its snow-capped volcanoes and UNESCO historic sites, and you'll get to visit both on this 7-day itinerary. In Quito, visit colonial churches, stand on both hemispheres at the Middle of the World, and hike the nearby  Ruco Pichincha Volcano. You'll also hike the Pasochoa Volcano, admire the scenery in Cotopaxi, and browse for gifts at mountain markets. 

Artisan Market
Map of Culture & Nature in Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Amazon, Chimborazo, & Cotopaxi - 14 Days
Culture & Nature in Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Amazon, Chimborazo, & Cotopaxi - 14 Days

The landscapes of Ecuador's mainland are as varied as the people who live there, and you'll get to experience both nature and culture on this 14-day itinerary. Meet the locals who call these regions home and learn about their history, way of life and relationship to Ecuador's landscapes. From the Otavaleños and Afro-Ecuadorians in the north and the Quichua and Shuar in the rainforest to the Kichwa in the central Andes, you'll dive deep into everyday life and explore Ecuador's nature. 

Local Quito store
Map of Ecuador History, Culture & Nature: Quito & Surroundings - 5 Days
Ecuador History, Culture & Nature: Quito & Surroundings - 5 Days

This short but extensive itinerary brings you into the very heart of the Ecuadorian capital and its surroundings. You will tour Quito's beautifully preserved historic center to see fine examples of colonial architecture, learn about history and culture at the Ethnographic Museum, and enjoy the best panoramic view of the city. The adventure continues north of Quito in Otavalo and Cotacachi, renowned for their local crafts. Finally, take a day-trip to Cotopaxi National Park—its namesake volcano is one of Ecuador's most famous natural landmarks.

Cotopaxi, an active volcano in the Andes Mountains, Ecuador
Highlights of Ecuador: Quito, Galapagos Islands & More - 10 Days

The incredible diversity of Ecuador is highlighted on this 10-day trip around the country. Tour the colonial center of Quito and hike to Cotopaxi Volcano in the Andes before venturing into the Amazon to explore the rainforest's wildlife and indigenous culture. Then it's off to the Galapagos for a few days of island exploration, including snorkeling, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Spotting penguins and giant tortoises in their natural habitats is an unforgettable way to finish this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Other popular travel destinations in Ecuador
Quito · Otavalo · Baños · The Amazon · Riobamba · Quilotoa · Cuenca · Guayaquil · Mindo · Papallacta · Yasuni National Park · Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve · Tena · Archidona · Lago Agrio · Isinliví · Cacha