Ecuador - Trail Running in The Andes
This trip is inspired by the highlands of the central and north Andes. You will experience volcanos, crater lakes, high mountains, pristine rivers, hot springs, Ecuadorian food, culture and hospitality while you run, hike, and even horseback ride on amazing trails with breath-taking views. This is an opportunity to feel inspired, to run, to travel, to enjoy, and to discover the beauty and warmth of Ecuador. The trip is also a great opportunity to learn, to develop your skills and to improve your running with some high-altitude training.
Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in the Americas, however one of the most biodiverse in the world. It boasts over 50 ecosystems, from the Galapagos to tropical rainforests to forested valleys to the Andean mountains. It is a small country, where you can see and do it all! Many places in Ecuador have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
You will be amazed by the diverse regions, each of them with special weather, flora, fauna and food culture. All this together makes of Ecuador a hidden jewel and it is not surprising that Ecuador has several consecutive World Travel Awards.
This journey is created by runners for runners. We have chosen exciting trails, which include beautiful landscapes, good elevation and technical terrain to challenge runners of all abilities. We have selected exciting accommodation in small unique haciendas and eco-lodges. The entire trip has been planned and organised so that you can relax and just enjoy!
WHO CAN JOIN?
Anyone with some experience in trail running and hilly terrain can join. Pace is unimportant on our adventures, but for several days we will be out for 3 to 6 hours and switch between running, hiking and other activities. Most of the routes have been selected to give the runners the possibility to enjoy at their own pace, joined by a leader. Some runs/hikes are at altitude and will be challenging - the more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have and the further you’ll be able to go.
If for any reason you do not feel like running, there will always be alternatives to enjoy your day. For most of the runs, there will be a support vehicle with us in the case you need it. Also, if the kilometres and the altitude are not enough for you, there will be opportunity to extend your run.
Day 1 | Quito – Cumbayá
Arrival and acclimatisation day (Quito is at 2800 meters)
Organised airport pick-up and hotel check-in throughout the day
Welcome dinner: 6:30 pm
Day 2 | Quito – Sigchos – Isinlivi
Morning departure to the town of Sigchos (2h30), which will mark the start of a three–day running journey to “El Quilotoa”. The trail goes through the Andean mountains, valleys, epic landscapes, towns, over rivers and past genuine Quechua communities to ultimately end up at an epic sapphire-blue crater lake after three days!
The trails start at the humble town of Sigchos where we will be dropped by our support vehicle, which will continue with your bags to Isinlivi. After a light snack, we will make the same journey, except by smaller trails. It is a perfect route to acclimatise ourselves for the highs of the Andes, giving us the opportunity to get use to the altitude.
The route: 10 Km - 450+ 430-
Highest point at 2900 meters
Afternoon chill time with beautiful landscapes (needed for acclimatisation!)
The cosy eco-lodge we have chosen for this night offers breath-taking views, delicious locally sourced food, a warm stove and a great spa (at a small additional fee).
Day 3 | Isinlivi – Chugchilán
The day’s run is from Isinlivi to the town of Chugchilán. From Isinlivi the trail follows the Toachi canyon, offering amazing landscapes along the river, then climbs up to the plateaus and passing through small highland villages before arriving to Chugchilán.
The route: 12 Km - 740+ 480-
Highest point at 3220 meters
Afternoon relax – sauna and hot tub, ziplines and yoga
Want more kilometres? The option is always available
The eco–lodge is located just outside of the small village of Chugchilán at an altitude over 3200 meters. It is a beautiful and cosy place, with views of the Rio Toachi Canyon, fantastic food and spectacular mountain views.
Day 4 | Chugchilán – Quilotoa Crater – Cotopaxi
The day’s run is sometimes steep, and always wild and at high altitude. It is the day to test what you’re made of! Following a wholesome breakfast at the eco-lodge, we will descent down the valley below us to cross a river before we can begin our climb up to 3900 meters, and the goal of this first adventure: El Quilotoa Lagoon. As we have had previous acclimatisation this should not be a problem, but be prepared to work for the reward - just imagine an azure- coloured crater lake surrounded by steep shadowy mountains and (most likely) deep blue skies overhead – this is Lake Quilotoa. The landscape along the route and the views from the crater rim, will make everything worth it! Following our arrival to the crater, we will jump into our support vehicle and drive over to El Cotopaxi National Park, which is centred around one of the world’s highest active volcanos. We will arrive in the afternoon and head out exploring and get some time in for relaxing – the national park is considered one of the most beautiful places of Ecuador!
The trail: 11 Km - 1000+ 350-
Highest point at 3900 meters
Tansfer to “El Cotopaxi” (2h30)
Afternoon relax or optional walk
Day 5 | Cotopaxi – Manantiales
Enjoy some early coffee with a fantastic view of El Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest volcanoes (5.897 meters). A volcano with such a beauty that it leaves you speechless. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by mud flows 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 in 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”, with spectacular views of the volcanoes el Pasochoa, Rumiñahui, Sincholagua, Antisana, Corazón and Cotopaxi. No experience necessary.
The route: 3 hours horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park
Highest point at 3800 meters
Afternoon, easy run to Limpiopungo Lake
Day 6 | Cotopaxi – Rumiñahui Volcano – Otavalo
After having spent some days at altitude, we are ready to run/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 3900 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 to The Northern Andes, to a beautiful cosy hacienda in the Imbabura Province, which is one of the most visited places in Ecuador. The province, its home to the inactive volcano El Imbabura and beautiful stunning lakes. The area offers beautiful landscapes, a huge cultural heritage and its fertile green lands.
The route: climb to el Rumiñahui 11 Km - 770+ 750-
Highest point at 4620 meters
Tansfer to Cotacachi (3h15)
Day 7 | Otavalo – Laguna de Cuicocha – Cotacachi
Laguna Cuicocha - which is translated as the guinea pig lake - is a large caldera lake nearly 3 kilometres wide. The lagoon is part of the Cotacachi- Cayapas Ecological Reserve. This is one of the most beautiful trail running routes in Ecuador. An undulating route at high altitude, with majestic views of different volcanos such as Cayambe, Imbabura and Cotacachi, sapphire- blue waters and vivid flora. While we run it is also interesting to appreciate the changes in vegetation due to the various micro-climates along the path.
After enjoying our packed lunch, we visit the town of Cotacachi, which is an artisan city famous for its leather goods and handicrafts. In the afternoon, we relax and enjoy the hacienda.
Highest point at 3485 meters
Free afternoon (possibility for yoga, horseback riding, biking)
Day 8 | Otavalo – El Ángel – Ibarra
After breakfast, we will drive to El Ángel Ecological Reserve. Get ready for a mystical trekking through the only primary Polylepis forest in the world. This spot is home to the oldest Polylepis trees, which have glacial origin and can be from 2 to 4 million years old. After a walk across some of the lagoons and small cascades, we will move on to a different ecosystem: the Páramo of Frailejones, one of the most dream-like views of the Ecuadorian highlands. We will have lunch in the area and some zunfo tea.
Transfer to El Ángel (2h10)
The route: trekking of 3 to 4 hours
Highest point at 4000 meters
Day 9 | Ibarra – Imbabura
Today, we climb El Imbabura, a long-extinct volcano. Imbabura is a stand- alone peak that resides over the breath-taking Lago San Pablo outside of Otavalo. Imbabura makes a great climb in its own right. The climb will take us through tall grasses into rocky outcroppings, followed by surprisingly lush vegetation high on the mountain (reaching the highest point at 4650 meters. Free afternoon to relax!
Transfer to La Esperanza (30 minutes)
The route: 8 Km - 1000+ 1000-
Highest point at 4650 meters
Day 10 | Ibarra – Papallacta
After breakfast, we drive back to the central Andes. We will visit an exceptional place, located between the páramo and the rain forest, while we have lunch we will be surrounded by scenic vistas and hummingbirds. After lunch, we will enjoy an easy trek in the rain forest. In the afternoon, we drive to Papallacta where we will enjoy of beautiful views of the mountains, while we enjoy a relaxing evening in the thermal hot springs.
Transfer to Papallacta (3h20)
Easy trekking of 1h30
Highest point at 2900 meters
Spa (for an additional fee)
Day 11 | Papallacta – Quito
This day, you either enjoy the mountains from the calmness of the thermal springs, or you run! If you opted for the run, it will be beautiful and... wet! The route is part of the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and it is surrounded by imposing mountains and beautiful landscapes. After the run, we will head back to Cumbayá (Quito), where we finish our adventure. Estimated time in Quito 1PM.
The route: 10 Km - 200+ 200-
Highest point at 3500 meters
Transfer to Quito (1h20)
If you want to stay longer in Ecuador, we will be happy to guide you or to help you with reservations and transfers.
A note about fitness:
This adventure involves physical activity around 5 hours per day, some days has over 1000m 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 wether or not this is for you, you should consider yourself to be in good fitness, be accustomed to running/hiking, and be able to do it comfortably for at leats 3 hours in a day. Please consult a doctor if you feel that this might be a challenge before booking.
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
Price: 2895 Euros (50% deposit due to secure your reservation, remaining 50% due 30 days before the start of the tour )
Send us an email for any enquires.
Please contacts us to make a booking - we will confirm that we have available places in an email or over the phone, and provide you with a payment code so that you can proceed to secure online payments via Stripe, paypal or bank transfer.
Participants: 6 - 12 runners
The price includes:
Everything described in the tour
All of the scheduled activities: horseback riding, guides, yoga
All accommodation during the tour (10 nights). Most lodges and haciendas in shared rooms, no dorms! (single occupancy room option available for an extra price in some lodges)
All meals during the tour (10 breakfast, 4 packed lunch, 5 lunches, 10 dinners)
All transport during the tour (except for those by feet!)
Tips! We pay our people well
The price 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.
Trail snack to eat on the go - we recommend that you bring dried fruit, nuts or energy bars to last you throughout the entire runs (further info in the packing list)
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Expenses for extra activities, such as; massages, spas, sauna, hot tub
Any accommodations for extra days in Ecuador
Ready to book your adventure?
Use the form below to send us a booking request (don't forget to tell us which expedition), we will then confirm that we have available places.