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Avenue of the Volcanos

Altitude - 3,914m - 6,268m (12,841ft - 20,564ft)

Grading Level - D3/E3 (click HERE to find out more about our grading)

Best months to go: November - February & June - August

We start our acclimatization by hiking to Quilotoa lagoon at 3,914m before our first climb of initially climb Corazon Volcano (4,788m), then on to the volcanic peaks of Illinizas Norte (5116m). One day of skills training is given before we attempt our next Ecuador volcanoes, either Cayambe (5790m) or Cotopaxi (5897m) before attempting our final peak Chimborazo (6268m), the highest peak in Ecuador and the furthest point from the centre of the earth. The views of the surrounding natural wonders and volcanic peaks are a spectacle to behold. Through the clouds you will be able to gaze upon your previous endeavors and savour the clear air and views of the distant Andes.


Quilotoa crater lake is one of Ecuador’s best kept secrets. High up in the Andes, it is a large volcanic crater with a mesmerizing emerald green lake in a typical indigenous community. Quilotoa is 178km south west from Ecuador’s capital Quito, located in Cotopaxi province. The 3 hour driving route to get there follows the Panamericana Highway south as far as Latacunga, then climbs a regional road up to Quilotoa vilage. The crater measures 3km (2 miles) in diameter, with a circumference of aprox 10km (6 miles). Volcanic minerals in the crater give the lake water it’s emerald-green tint. The water colour also appears to change depending on time of day and sunlight.


Ecuador is an astonishingly beautiful country that has some of the highest volcanoes in the world. Our Avenue of the Volcanoes expedition tackles four of the best volcanic peaks, with a careful program of acclimatization and skills development to ensure you have the best chance of success, comfort and enjoyment combined with sufficient rest days. You will be astounded at the unusual volcanic rock landscapes and luxuriant vegetation that gives Ecuador its unique environment.



Cayambe Volcano, or Volcán Cayambe, is located 40 miles northeast of Quito in the small town of Cayambe. The mighty Cayambe stands at 5790m and is the third highest mountain in Ecuador. It’s the only major mountain in the world whose summit is crossed directly by the equator and the only snow-capped mountain located on the equator.

Illinizas Norte

The Illinizas are a pair of volcanic mountains that are located to the south of Quito. These twin mountains are separated by a saddle that is about a kilometer long. The peaks are among the highest in Ecuador, with Illiniza Sur standing at 5248 mts is slightly taller than Illiniza Norte at 5126mts.

Iliniza Norte is the remnant of an old volcanic edifice, while Iliniza Sur is a younger stratovolcano of andesitic-dacitic composition. It contains a caldera filled by lava flows and domes and is surrounded by thick pyroclastic flow deposits. Most activity of the heavily eroded Illinizas volcano took place before the Holocene, recent studies said the southern flank was active during the past 10,000 years.

The volcano is excellent for those who need to acclimatize or for those who wish to have a challenging hike combined with non-technical climbing at a beautiful surrounding. For the experienced hiker or soft climber, the northern peak is a truly fun climb with some exciting scrambles thrown in. It offers great opportunities to observe volcanic craters, the Paramo, and the whole Avenue of Volcanoes. The climb takes approx. 6 hours going up to a height of 5126m (16817 ft)



The Corazon volcano is located about 40km (24 miles) southwest of Quito in the “Illinizas Ecological Reserve”. The ascent is a relatively easy hiking tour through the Paramo vegetation. It is perfect for acclimatization, and for enjoying the beautiful surroundings of Cotopaxi and its nearby volcanoes with the valley below. The hiking route is straightforward and requires no rock equipment or experience.  Pre-conquest ruins have been reported on the northeast slopes but they are very overgrown and have yet to be investigated.

The weather in the area is very unpredictable and you must be prepared with warm clothing. The hike takes approx. 3-5 hours reaching a height of 4,791m (15,718 ft.).


Cotopaxi Climb one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Cotopaxi is Ecuador’s most popular volcano and not without reason. It offers an amazing climbing experience for both those new to climbing and experienced mountaineers. It is one of the world’s highest active volcanos, containing an incredible snow-capped crater, beautiful sights, and an altitude of 5,897 m (19,347 ft).

It’s a perfectly symmetrical cone, covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice, gracefully rises from a beautiful paramo plateau. The climb up to the summit of Cotopaxi is not highly technical, but it does require proper acclimatization. You will be explained in a short course the night before the climb how to use the crampons, ice axes, and ropes. Leaving from the refuge around midnight climbers begin the ascent of the volcano arriving at the top of Cotopaxi after sunrise at 6 am.

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Climb Chimborazo, the highest volcano in Ecuador, and reach the closest point to the sun in this 2-day climbing tour. Located 150 km (93,2 miles) southwest of Quito this ancient and extinct volcano’s rounded bulk will not fail to impress you. It is a massive mountain that volcanologists claim is composed of the remains of two volcanoes.

Climbing Chimborazo involves a long climb of approximately 12 hours. The tour includes a glacier training session, dinner, and a night at the refuge (4,800 m/15,748 ft). The climb is a real challenge and offers climbers the opportunity to break the magical 6,000-meter (19,685 ft) altitude barrier.

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Climbing the big Ecuadorian Volcanos 

Before you head off to conquer the mighty Ecuadorian Volcanos you’ll need to know a few things about the intensity of the ascents, the physical requirements needed, and the must-bring equipment.


Duration of the Ascent

A standard ascent will take roughly two days – one day to reach the refuge and an additional day to make it to the top. The ascent itself takes about six-to-eight hours from the hut, with a two-to-three-hour descent.

How long it takes you really depends on your personal physical condition and readiness for this climb.


Physical Requirements & Technical Difficulties of the Summit

In order to climb these volcanos, you should be in good shape, with the mental fortitude to endure the complexities and complications of a high-altitude ascent. Previous climbing experience is always an asset, as these climbs are composed of snow, ice, and will require a mix of climbing techniques.

When climbing these volcanos, you’ll experience sudden climate changes, paired with significant challenging landscapes. Climbers should be well-prepared for these hazards, along with a thorough understanding of what is required for a successful summit.


Day 1 - Sunday:
Arrive Quito, transfer to hotel

Day 2 - Monday:
Quilotoa Hike - 3,914m


Day 3 - Tuesday:
Corazon Climb - 4,788m


Day 4 - Wednesday:
Illinizas North Climb - 5,126m


Day 5 - Thursday:
Cayambe or Cotopaxi Climb to Refuge


Day 6 - Friday:
Cayambe or Cotopaxi Summit
to Hotel


Day 7 - Saturday:
Rest day at Hotel


Day 8 - Sunday:
Chimborazo Climb to Refuge


Day 9 - Monday:
Chimborazo Summit
to Hotel


Day 10 - Tuesday:
Transfer to Quito
Fly Home


What's included?

What's not included?

• Professional guide (1 guide per 2 climbers)

• Transfer from/to Hosteria 

• Meals (Hosteria & Refuge)

• Refuge Cayambe/Cotopaxi

• One night in High camp at Chimborazo (Tents)

• Mountain equipment (see list)

  • International flights

  • Tips

  • Insurance

  • Personal items

  • Meals not included in itinerary

  • Drinks

Technical Kit (included)

  • Helmet Plastic climbing boots

  • Crampons

  • Rope

  • Climbing harness

  • Locking carabiner

  • Ice axe

  • Thermal mittens

Group Trip Date

1st - 9th July

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Avenue of the Volcanos 


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