Trekking in Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park and Cuicocha

Published by Kendrick. Last Updated on March 30, 2022.

Disclaimers: We were hosted for this experience. Our site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please check out our Terms and Conditions for more information. Listed prices and attraction details may have changed since our visit and initial publication.

A huge chunk of our travels in Ecuador involved trekking various landscapes that the country had to offer. Each destination had its own share of challenges, and wonder. We were grateful for the opportunity to experience all of it.

Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

After a brief introduction to our guide and tour mates the night before, we were whisked away to Cotopaxi National Park early next morning. Cotopaxi National Park is a popular destination for avid hikers, and visitors who would appreciate a good spot for landscape photography. We spent 45 minutes trekking up to the refuge at nearly 16,000 ft.

This is definitely a worthwhile hike. While the trail itself is short, trekking at such a high altitude and in such cold weather is no easy feat. The moment we left the bus, we found the weather to be windy and at one point it was even hailing.

However, once the wind and hail subsided, and clouds parted, we caught the most beautiful glimpse of Cotopaxi and its ice capped mountains. It was surreal to see such Cotopaxi against the brilliant blue backdrop of the sky.

Book Your Trip Today
Flights | Hotels | Apartments | Rental Car | Cruises | Day Tours

At the refuge, you can reward yourself with a hot beverage, and perhaps purchase memorabilia to commemorate your achievement.

At the end of our hike, we stopped at the restaurant for a hot bowl of Ecuadorian potato soup which really hit the spot after such a cold and strenuous activity.

Jungle Life – Trekking the Amazon Rainforest

Waterfalls in the Ecuadorian Rainforest

Famous for its wildlife diversity and plant life, I was pleasantly surprised to find that hiking in the rainforest turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had.

Equipped with rubber boots, we set off into the jungle for an afternoon of adventure. We climbed up wooden ladders, balanced on top of rocks and tried our best not to slip on mossy boulders.

This is exactly what we had in mind when we thought about adventure travel. Guided by locals who lived in the rainforest, they made our experience highly entertaining. Whether they are cracking jokes or making perfect imitations of animal noises, their infectious energy kept the atmosphere upbeat.

At one point they encouraged everyone to stand under a waterfall for a count of three, leaving us fully soaked but very happy. Being deep in the Amazon rainforest really gave us a greater appreciation for one of the seven wonders of nature!

Cuicocha Crater Lake – The Final Showdown

Cuicocha Crater Lake

Perhaps the most challenging trek was the 4 hour hike around Cuicocha Crater Lake, or Lake of the Guinea Pig. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any wild guinea pigs, but what we saw was a breathtaking view of the lake, and the islands in the middle.

To say the trek was difficult is an understatement. The maximum altitude we reached was 11,800 ft, meaning the inclines were so steep it left us gasping for air and moving at the pace of a snail. Despite its challenges, the picturesque landscape made all the hard work worth it.

After such a strenuous activity, we celebrated with sandwiches and delicious mango juice, which we devoured in a matter of minutes!

Final Thoughts on Traveling Ecuador

Traveling in EcuadorFor more articles from Kendrick's travels in Ecuador, check out 10 Adventures You Can't Miss in Ecuador.

About Kendrick

Kendrick from Travel and Live Free

About the Author: Kendrick of Travel and Live Free was a contributing author to share stories from his trip around the world from 2016 to 2017. He now has the goal to visit every country in the world in the next few years.

1 thought on “Trekking in Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park and Cuicocha”

  1. Wouh! Super post! Thank you for sharing your experience! I have just returned from Ecuador and loved it! The lagoon Quilotoa is amazing, banos city and cuenca city are also and there are so many beautiful landscapes to discover in this country! I had the chance to stay long enough to discover everything!


Leave a Comment