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Ecuador Travel Guide How to Get there | Climbing Cotopaxi | Climbing Rumiñahui | Park and Fees | Accommodation | Lasso | Book a Tour | Write a review about Cotopaxi National Park
Cotopaxi National Park
© Picture by Bodd Wuth. Sales: 02-2282841.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel How to Get there

Cotopaxi Nacional Park is the country's most visited mainland park and has around 33,390 hectares although during weekdays is maybe traffic free and in quiet solitude.

The main entrance is located some 5 km north of Lasso east with a sign marking the park. At the entrance you will pay a US $10.00 fee (locals will pay around US $1) before passing onwards past a museum and onto Lake Limpio Pungo at an altitude of 3840m.

From the lake you will continue on to a car park at around 4590m and from the car lot you are just 45 minutes via foot to the José Ribas refuge, if however you journey by foot from the main highway it will take you the whole day beginning at dawn just to reach the refuge.

You can also arrive via several pick up trucks located at the entrance for around US$25-$30 which groups around 4 people at a time and journeys to the car lot as well as return trips if prearranged.

The park itself affords spectacular views of the Paramo while center stage is of course the 5890m cone-formed, snow crested volcano Cotopaxi, normally only viewable by climbers ascending the volcano.

All travelers should acclimatize before ascending to such heights and spend a few days prior in Quito or equal elevations to avoid heavy altitude sickness. Inside the perimeter of the park you will find a plethora of wildlife that attracts the naked eye. The infamous Condor is one bird life example as well as the orange faced Falcon (Carunculated Caracara) and Andean seagull viewed at 4000m and above, other bird forms also include the great Thrush, complete with a bright orange bill and yellow eyes, various ducks, Solitaries and Canasteros.

The typical mammals frequenting the park are the little red brocket deer, Andean fox named Colpeo, pumas and white-tailed deer while rarer species includes the Andean speckled Bear found on the Eastern slopes of the park. For Llama lovers you will find these in a small herd located at the parks entrance which are held captive for scientific studies.

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Climbing Cotopaxi
It is always a practical idea before ascending to check snow conditions with the refuge host guide for any irregularities including suspected avalanches often passed down by previous mountaineers to the host upon descent from the previous climb.
Cotopaxi cratter
©Picture by Bodd Wuth. Sales: 02-2282841.

Also it is recommended to begin climbs early morning bathed in the beauty of moonlight, for example 0100-0200 because it takes around 6 to 8 hours going up and another 2-4 to descend, after midday the sun rapidly melts the snows causing the snow to be similar to the consistency of sugar which when trodden on can often set off avalanches underfoot and great danger. There are outstanding views to the southeast from the Cotopaxi volcano such as Quilidaña (4,870 m). And, to the north Rumiñahui (4,722 m), Sincholagua (4,900 m) and Pasochoa (4,220 m) peaks.

Descending from Cotopaxi
The recommended season for climbing Cotopaxi is normally December to April due to pervading strong winds and cloud cover during the other months, having said this the more experienced climbers may ascend year round although for less experience mountaineers a guide is essential accompanied by all necessary equipment. See under Quito > climbing, for recommended agencies and guides.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Climbing Rumiñahui
The park road beginning at Laguna Limpio Pungo is the main starting point to Climb Rumiñahui. At the foot of this mountain there is a wide variety of bird life to be viewed but do be on the look out for wild bulls, mountain lions and groups of wild horses roaming at random.

Although the ascension to the summits of Cima Máxima 4722m, Cima Sur and Cima central are not too demanding be careful of slippery muddy areas after rainy downpours. From the foot of Rumiñahui allow around 4 hours and another 3 hours to ascend from the summit back down to Limpio Pungo.

The normal clothing preparation for very cold and wet weather apply as with all ascents to high elevations.

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Park and Fees

As previously mentioned the cost for park entry is around US $10.00, payable in cash as travelers checks are not accepted, outside of July to December the cost is usually a bit cheaper with the gates being passable between 07:00-15:00, you may however stay till 18:00 and be allowed exit passes later in the day but don't leave past these times.

Administration for the park and the museum with 3D plans of the park and stuffed wildlife are located adjacent to one another 10 kilometers inside the perimeter of the park open between 08:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00.

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Accommodation

Important Notice: If you wish to book in advance any of the below listed lodgings, visit our online Hotel reservation form. A BOE specialized agent will be able to process your inquiry immediately for the best and most affordable accommodation rates!.

Campsites and cabins (cabañas) are available at Cóndor Huayco and La Rinconada, both places are located between the museum and the Limpio Pungo lake, It is not allowed to camp on the lake surroundings.

The refuge (José Ribas) has water, kitchen and some 35 bunks. The cost per night is around US$13 per person. You can also bring a sleeping bag and while you're climbing, you can leave your belongings in a locked luggage deposit for about US$3.

Outside the park

Hacienda Yanahurco.- Styled rooms with fireplace. They run several day programs and a rodeo every year in November. It is located Southeast of the park surrounded by paramos and mountains. The area itself has several haciendas managed by Fundación Paramo. Reservations: Tel. 2241593, Fax: 2445016, in Quito.

Hacienda San Agustín de Callo.- Suites with fireplaces. Horse riding and mountain bike tours. Located south of the park in a hill called Cerro San Agustín (Cerro Callo), with some Inca structures in the base of it. The hacienda entrance is north of the southern park entrance, just a 10 minute ride from the highway. Reservations: Tel. 03-719160.

Cuello de Luna.- A converted hacienda with outstanding views at 3,120 m. Located one kilometer west of the Panamericana. Reservations: Tel. 09-9700330 (cellular).

Volcanoland.- Dormitory accommodation, horse riding and mountain bike tours. Located close to the northern access to the park

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Lasso

Lasso is a small village located some 35 km south of Alóag and between the railway tracks and the Panamericana crossroads, it has many simple restaurants offering local typical food but, in the surrounding areas there are several beautiful hosterias for accommodation such as the ones listed below:

Hostería San Mateo.- Small but cozy, horse riding tours. Located some 3 1/2 kilometers south from Lasso. Reservations: Tel & Fax: 03-719471. Or, through our online Hotel reservation form.

Posada del Rey.- With nice rooms, swimming pool and a restaurant. Located in front of La Ciénega. Reservations: Tel. 03-719319. Or, through our online Hotel reservation form.

Hostería La Ciénega.- Nice rooms with fireplace, horse riding tours and beautiful gardens. Located some 2 1/2 km south from Lasso. Reservations: Tel. 03-719052. Or, through our online Hotel reservation form.


Parador La Avelina.- Homemade cheese and ice-cream, popular with Ecuadorian travelers. Located along the Panamericana, some 6 km south from Lasso.

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Book a Tour
The Best of (BOE) has lately teamed up with the most recognized, respected Travel Agencies and Tour operators in the country. By filling in our online Travel Agencies and Tour operators network reservation form, visitors may ask for a quote and book in advance as well for professional guided tours to Cotopaxi National Park.
Ecuador Travel Guide How to Get there | Climbing Cotopaxi | Climbing Rumiñahui | Park and Fees | Accommodation | Lasso | Book a Tour | Write a review about Cotopaxi National Park
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