Cotopaxi National Park entrance to Hacienda La Merced

Approx. walking time: 4 hours.

Approx. Distance: 7.5 km

Leave Machachi and head by private hire vehicle to the north entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park. From here, the trek begins at the “Control Norte” entrance where basic toilets facilities are available. After 3-4 hours of walking you will arrive at the Hacienda “La Merced” and set up camp there.

Laguna Santo Domingo

Approx. walking time: 7-8 hours

Approx. distance: 16 km

After a fantastic sunrise in the Cotopaxi National Park, you will have breakfast and start the long flat trek towards Laguna Santo Domingo (3947m). On the way you will pass a small ravine at Río Pita from where there are spectacular views of Cotopaxi Volcano. From there, you will head south to Laguna Santo Domingo. The Laguna should not be used for washing or drinking water. You will then continue back to your campsite for the night (3650m). The highest altitude you will trek to today is 3947m.

Hacienda La Merced to Cotopaxi´s National Park campsite

Approx. walking time: 6-7 hours

Approx distance: 15 km

The route will take you uphill to the ruins of “Pucara del Salitre” (3832m), a strategic military fortress that dates back to the Inca Empire. It was used to monitor the roads that led to the Amazon Rainforest and the Central Valley. You will descend to the valley and then continue westwards. You may spot wild horses which roam the páramo in this area. Arrive at Cotopaxi´s national park campsite (3763m) passing Limpiopungo Lake and set up camp.

Campamento Limpiopungo to National Park Camping Area

Approx. Walking time: 3-4 hours

Approx. distance: 3.5 km

There will be an early start today. The guides will arrange transport up the bumpy road to the Cotopaxi refuge car park (4600m) which is the base for climbers of Cotopaxi. From there, a hard uphill trek of around 1 hour will take you up to the José Rivas Refugio (4850m). If the weather is clear you will enjoy spectacular views of the volcano. Once at the refuge, have a rest and a drink before (weather permitting) trekking up to the glacier to see the famous ice caves (approx. 5000m). Descend back to the car park and trek towards the southern park entrance passing Lake Limpiopungo. Stay at the National Park camping area further on (3763m), the starting point for the volcano ascent of Rumiñahui, which your team may be completing tomorrow.

Wilson E4-266 y Juan León Mera

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