Cotopaxi Ecuador - trail running tour


Ecuador: Hike The Andes & the Amazon jungle
with Darwin Rakestraw (all-inclusive)

Explore the beauty of The Andes and the magical sounds of the jungle in this exclusive and luxurious trip

Dates: 18 Nov - 27 Nov, 2022

Price:  2980 EUR (All-Inclusive, see details below)

A 25% deposit is due to secure your reservation. The remaining balance is due 60 days before the start of the expedition.

(View the cancelation policy below in the section "Price and Details")

Darwin Onthetrail

Darwin Rakestraw is a Film-Maker, Long Distance Hiker, & Adventure Cyclist most known for his popular Youtube Channel "Darwin Onthetrail”. He’s logged over 12K accumulative miles of Long-Distance Hiking (AT, PCT, CDT, etc.) & Bike-Touring over the last 7 years. Aside from making his well known hiking videos & gear reviews, he has expanded his creativity as a storyteller to Documentary Filmmaking, Photography, Podcasting, and anything to help inspire others to get outside their comfort zone and experience the natural world around us.

Darwin Rakestraw is joining Vagabond Trails to explore the best of Ecuador in this extraordinary journey.

This is a ten-day trip all-inclusive, meaning that you don't have to worry about anything, because we have arranged everything for you from the moment you arrived in Ecuador. This is an amazing tour to experience volcanoes, crater lakes, high mountains, the magical sound of the jungle, pristine rivers, Ecuadorian food, culture, amazing lodges and hospitality while you hike, raft and even horseback ride on amazing trails with breathtaking experiences.

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We have chosen beautiful trails, which include amazing landscapes good elevation and technical terrain to challenge hikers of all abilities. We have selected exciting accommodation in small unique haciendas and eco-lodges. The entire trip has been planned and organized so that you can relax and enjoy it!

We promise you that this will be a fantastic adventure in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. 

Read what some of our guests say about us!

Who can join?

Anyone with some experience in hiking and hilly terrain can join. The pace is unimportant on our adventures, but for several days we will be out for 3 to 6 hours - the more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have.

The hikes in the itinerary take us to high altitudes, this is exciting and you might think this could be a bit challenging ...! but a challenge is always a good thing. Your safety and comfort are our main priority. Our team will make sure that you have plenty of time to enjoy yourself at your own pace. We will be sleeping in amazing accommodations at lower altitudes which will help us to recover.

If for any reason you do not feel like hiking, there will always be alternatives to enjoy your day. There will be a support vehicle with us most of the time.

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Some of the amazing lodges and haciendas that we have hand-picked for this tour

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Itinerary

Day 1 | Tumbaco (Quito)

  • Arrival and acclimatization day (Quito is at 2800 meters9186ft)

  • Organized airport pick-up and hotel check-in throughout the day.

  • Welcome dinner: 6:30 pm

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Day 2 | Quito – Fuya Fuya – Otavalo

 

We start our day early and drive towards Imbabura Province. We take this day easy and start our adventure for the day by driving toward the pristine Mojanda lagoon, a volcano that has been extinct for more than 200,000 years. We will start hiking to the short but steep summit of Fuya Fuya, perfect for acclimatization; from the top, we can observe the beautiful paramo landscapes of the surrounding Andes.

  • Distance 4.5km/2.8mi single trail. 

  • Elevation +/- 500m/1640ft

  • Route highest point at 4275m/14,000ft

  • Estimated time 3 hours

  • Sleeping altitude 2800m/9186ft - in a stunning hacienda

  • Transfer to Mojanda Lagoon, 1h50

  • Afternoon chill time with beautiful landscapes (needed for acclimatization!)

 

Day 3 | Otavalo – Cuicocha Lagoon

 

We begin our day with an Andean breakfast and then we will depart to Cotacachi volcano foothills where the beautiful Cuicocha lagoon is located. The lagoon is a large caldera of nearly 3 kilometers wide and is part of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. This is one of the most beautiful hike routes in Ecuador. An undulating route at high altitude, with majestic views of different volcanoes such as Cayambe, Imbabura and Cotacachi, and of course the crater’s sapphire-blue waters and vivid flora. After a well-deserved lunch, we will enjoy the charm of Cotacachi town famous for its leather products. In the afternoon we return to our hacienda and enjoy a relaxing afternoon and dinner.

  • Distance 13km/8mi

  • Elevation +/- 600m/1968ft

  • Route highest point at 3485m/11433ft

  • Estimated time 4 hours

  • Sleeping altitude 2800m/9186ft

  • Transfer to Cuicocha Lagoon, 30 min

  • Afternoon chill time and Andean music

 

Day 4 | Otavalo Insinliví

After spending some time in the north of the country we will drive towards the Central Andes to a small cozy lodge privileged located in a little Andean town called Insinliví. Along the way, we will enjoy changing landscapes and the beautiful Avenue of the Volcanoes, named in the early 1800s by famous explorer Humboldt, is a volcano-lined corridor stretching south through Ecuador. Many of these towering snow-capped cones are still active. Between the volcanoes lies the dramatic Toachi canyon, flanked by verdant valleys of tropical forest and farmland dotted with indigenous villages. This area is one of our favorites, not only for its landscapes but because of its peace and calmness. 

As we arrived after lunch we will have time to chill and later on admire the sunset from the top of the pre-Columbian Ñuñurco. This hilltop was used by the Inca’s as a strategic viewpoint from where they could be on the lookout for intruders in their territory. From the top, you have an amazing view over the Toachi canyon and river as well as over Isinlivi village. 

  • Distance 1km/0.62mi

  • Elevation +/- 67m/219ft

  • Route highest point at 3017m/9896ft

  • Estimated time 45 min

  • Sleeping altitude 2900m/9514ft

  • Transfer to Insinliví 5h30

  • Afternoon chill time

The cozy eco-lodge we have chosen for this night offers breath-taking views, delicious locally sourced food, a warm stove and a small spa.

Day 5 | Insinliví – Toachi Canyon

Start the day in the mountains filled with energy, strength and peace. Join an early yoga class or just use the yoga studio for your meditation practice

After breakfast, we start the hike of the day that will take us to the Toachi Canyon. This loop has a bit of everything – gorgeous views, green valleys, and the beautiful Toachi river! The trail that leads down into the canyon has several great viewpoints and it’s possible to make a short detour to the Toachi Plateau for a magnificent view over the valley. You will be surrounded by bromelias, orchids and butterflies in the valley. The sound of the rapid river will relax your senses.

 

  • Distance 10km/6mi

  • Elevation +/- 523m/1717ft

  • Route highest point at 2950m/9679ft

  • Estimated time 4 hours

  • Sleeping altitude 2900m/9514ft

  • Afternoon chill time

 

Day 6 | Insinliví – Quilotoa Lagoon – Cotopaxi area

Following a wholesome breakfast, we drive towards the Quilotoa Lagoon. Just imagine an azure-colored crater lake surrounded by steep shadowy mountains and (most likely) deep blue skies overhead. The landscape along the route and the views from the crater rim are amazing. 

 

We will have lunch close to the crater and then drive towards our beautiful lodge in The Cotopaxi National Park area, which is centered around one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. We will arrive in the afternoon and get some time in for relaxing – the national park is considered one of the most beautiful places in Ecuador!

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  • The route: 7m / 11km  - High gain/loss +2661ft/811m | -2661ft/811m approx.

  • Approximate time 4 - 6 hours

  • Highest point at 13,030ft/3,971m

  • Transfer to El Quilotoa, 1 hour

  • Transfer to El Cotopaxi, 3h00

  • Afternoon relax

Day 7 | Cotopaxi – Manantiales 

Enjoy some early coffee with a fantastic view of El Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest volcanoes (199.347ft/5.897m). Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by mudflows around the volcano, making the surroundings of El Cotopaxi, just amazing. A variety of wild animals live in the park such as wolves, pumas, bears, rabbits, Andean condors, horses, and foxes.

After breakfast, an exciting horseback riding adventure awaits us. Before the ride, our guide will offer a quick lesson on riding but don’t worry, the horses are gentle and the trails easy, it’s a great place to have fun. This is an opportunity to rest our legs and the perfect way to explore the unique Andean landscape of the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. You will never forget these stunning landscapes full of wild horses, volcanic giant rocks, paramo terrain and all the spectacular views of the Pasochoa, Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, Antisana, Corazón and Cotopaxi volcanoes around. No experience is necessary. 

  • The route: 3 hours horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park

  • Highest point at 12,467ft/3,800m

  • Alternative activity: walk to the José Rivas Refuge situated at 4,810 m (15,760 ft)

Day 8 | Cotopaxi – Rumiñahui Volcano – Tena (Amazon)

After having spent some days at altitude, we are ready to hike el Rumiñahui. This, is an extinct volcano named after the loyal general of the last Inca Emperor, Atahualpa. After the Spaniards murdered the Emperor, Rumiñahui hid the famous treasure of gold that was to be paid for Atahualpa's freedom, and led the fight against the Spanish conquerors. In the local language Quichua, the name means "stone face". We start the hike from Limpiopungo lake located at 12,795ft/3,900 meters. Technically, it is a hike with some easy scrambling at the end. The mountain offers epic views of El Corazón, Los Ilinizas, Sincholagua, and Cotopaxi.

After the hike, we will have a well-deserved lunch and continue our journey toward the Amazon.  

  • The route: 7m / 11km  - High gain/loss +2,526ft/770m | -2,460ft/750m approx.

  • Approximate time 4 - 6 hours

  • Highest point at 15,157ft/4,620 meters

  • Transfer to Tena (4h00)

After dinner, we will go for a night walk which is an extraordinary experience! what can be observed during the day, at the night changes totally. We will be able to observe tarantulas, insects, frogs, amphibians and more. The night walk allows us to get in touch with the most virgin and uninhabited jungle ever.

 

'Day 9 | Tena

This day is one for resting our tired legs but not our sense of adventure as we will be rafting the Jatunyacu river, which is a majestic, friendly, fun, warm and pristine river. This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and for sure one of the highlights of our journey.

Before starting, our experienced guides will give us a safety briefing, train the team in paddling techniques and fit you with a life jacket and helmet. Here is where the adrenaline begins and you will be submerged in this magical experience. During the trip, we’ll stop on a beach by the side of the river for a delicious picnic lunch provided by our guides, to later continue our journey on the river back to Tena, arriving around 5PM. The rest of the late afternoon, you can just enjoy of the sunset in the basins of the river, read a book or if you are not exhausted go for an easy walk around the island.   

  • Transfer to from Tena to Cando where the Rafting starts (40 min)

  • Safety briefing

  • Rafting all-day 25 Km

  • Highest point at 1,804ft/550m

  • Back to lodge

 

Day 10 | Tena - Quito

In the jungle, everything is alive and connected. You will be amazed by the sounds, the number of animals and the greenest of the forest.

After early breakfast, we go on an excursion in the virgin jungle, where we will hopefully see animals in their wild state, large trees and beautiful landscapes that allow us to feel the vastness of the Amazon.

 

Having spent some memorable days in the jungle we head back to the Andes. We will be back at the International Mariscal Sucre Airport before 5 PM. If you have an earlier flight we can arrange a shared transfer from Tena to the airport for you, or if your flight leaves the next day we will help you to arrange accommodation.​

  • Hike time, 4 - 5 hours

  • Transfer to the Airport, 4 hours

The entire tour is done in English.

*We reserve the right to change the itinerary without previous notice due to weather conditions, National Parks regulations or notifications and unforeseeable circumstances

This tour is governed by the Terms and Conditions

How Challenging ?

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Medium effort. This is a hiking trip where we can expect 3 - 6 hours of hiking per day, with up to 800 meters of height gain. Previous hiking experience is recommended.

A note about fitness:  This adventure involves physical activity for around 3-6 hours per day, some days has over 1000 m of ascent, at altitude up to 4,600 meters above sea level. To participate comfortably in the tour, you will require a certain level of fitness. To make a self-assessment of whether or not this is for you, you should consider yourself to be in good fitness, be accustomed to hiking, and be able to do it comfortably for at least 3 hours in a day. Please consult a doctor if you feel that this might be a challenge before booking.

Price and Details

The tour includes:

  • Everything described in the tour

  • All of the scheduled activities: hiking, rafting, horseback riding, guides, yoga

  • All accommodation during the tour (9 nights)

  • Most lodges and haciendas are in double shared rooms.

  • Single occupancy room option is available for an extra price in some lodges.

  • All meals during the tour (9 breakfast, 3 packed lunch, 5 lunch, 9 dinners)

  • All transport during the tour (except for those by feet!)

The tour excludes:

  • Transport to Quito (e.g. flights)

  • Insurance. All participants are required to have their own insurance appropriate for outdoor sports; such as health, accident, mountain rescue, repatriation, cancellation, personal liability, etc.

  • Shared transfer from Tena to the airport (if yu need it)

  • Single room supplement (if available) for an extra price of 600 EUR

  • Trail snack to eat on the go -  dried fruit, nuts or energy bars to last you throughout the entire runs (further info in the packing list)

  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

  • Tips

  • Expenses for extra activities, such as; massages, spas, sauna

  • Any accommodations for extra days in Ecuador

Price: 2980 EUR

25% deposit is due to secure your spot, the remaining balance is due 60 days before the start of the trip. Once the trip is confirmed your deposit is non-refundable, however, it can be transferred to any other trips. 

​Participants: 

Min 8 - Max 12

Start: Quito (Mariscal Sucre International Airport)

End: Quito (Mariscal Sucre International Airport)

We reserve the right to change the itinerary without previous notice due to weather conditions, and unforeseeable circumstances.

 

This tour is governed by the Terms and Conditions

Cancellation policy:

  • Trip pending: a 25% down payment is fully refundable

  • Trip confirmed: a 25% down payment is non-refundable. You can transfer this down payment to any other of our trips within the next year

  • 60 days or less before the trip starts no refund available

Travel insurance is required for all of our trips. Make sure that your insurance covers trip cancellation (in case of any unforeseen circumstances)