Andes to the Coast
From the Amazon to the Pacific!
A challenging cultural outdoor experience – from mountain biking, hiking, glacier climbing to kayaking. An added bonus: students from around the world can share the experience with local Ecuadorian teens. Discover the beautiful peaks in the Avenue of the Volcanoes to the warmth of the Ecuadorian coast. A true panoramic experience.
Day 1 Arrive in Quito at 9,000 feet above sea level. Met at airport and escorted to your accommodations.
Day 2 City Tour and Tram. El Centro or the old town of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique Quito Baroque architecture. Enjoy a promenade down cobblestone roads and immerse yourself in colonial Quito. Then ride the new tram up the mountain to take in some spectacular views. The walk through town provides an easy day of acclimatization.
Day 3 Avenue of the Volcanoes. (We will be joined on this day by the Ecuadorian students.) Only a few hours South of Quito, the landscape changes dramatically as we venture into the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Students set camp and establish rules. Students will be initiated into icebreaker activities. Mountain bike in the vast grasslands known as paramo and the subarctic tundra of Cotopaxi National Park.
Day 4-7 Quilotoa. We head south towards the region of Latacunga where we will mountain bike through this scenic patchwork mountain landscape where many of the indigenous people continue to live and farm in the old ways. We have an opportunity to bike around Quilotoa Crater Lake (12,595 ft above sea level), a breathtaking aquamarine dormant crater lake. We will stay in several small and beautiful hostals in many of the different towns we pass through.
Day 8 After 4 days of biking, we will take a day of rest and stay at a charming hacienda.
HIKING AND HORSEBACK RIDING
Day 9 Machachi. We head back north towards the town of Machachi famous for its spring water and Chagras, the Ecuadorian cowboy. We lose the wheels and take up the walking poles and hit it into high gear as we hike up El Corazon (The Heart) mountain. El Corazon is a non-technical climb and an excellent introduction to mountaineering.
Day 10 Summit El Corazon. El Corazon (15,708 ft) may not be the highest peak, but it’s particular location rewards the climber with exceptional views of the three highest glacier peaks in Ecuador on a clear day – Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, and Cayambe. A truly breathtaking experience.
Day 11 Porvenir Hacienda and Ranch House. Dressed in thick woolen ponchos, join an Ecuadorian posse as we horse back ride in the paramos led by the local Chagras (Ecuadorian cowboys).
Day 12 Summit Rumiñahui (15,489 ft). Rumiñahui named after the famous Incan General, it is a dormant and heavily eroded volcano. We will climb Rumiñahui by following the ancient trails carved out by the wild horses in Cotopaxi National Park. Camp on the base of Cotopaxi.
Day 13 Glacier School. We drive up to Cotopaxi’s refugio located at 15,748. Today’s glacier school begins with safety clinics and an introduction to ice climbing. We will set camp at Limpiopungo.
Day 14 Glacier School. Today we will practice many of the glacier techniques we learned the day before. We will rest in the afternoon and early evening in the refuge for acclimatization. At midnight we will attempt to summit Cotopaxi and hopefully reach the summit to watch the sun rise.
Day 15 Cotopaxi Summit. (19,347 feet). After we summit, we head down the mountain and should arrive by early afternoon to our hostal where we will rest for the day.
Day 16-18 GO WEST towards the province of Esmeraldas. Leave the cold, the crampons and ice and pick up your paddle and boat, head for warmth, water and sunshine. Near La Concordia, where African Palm farms dominate the agricultural landscape, we begin our kayak route towards the coast. Students will be given a safety talk before embarking on the journey. Overnight at hosteria.
Day 19 Aaah beach. Enjoy the beautiful coast of Esmeraldas. In the afternoon fly to Quito. Ecuadorian students will be met by their parents and return home. International participants will continue on.
Day 20 Otavalo. Visit the largest indigenous market in South America. On Saturdays, handicrafts and artisans spill onto Poncho Plaza and the streets are transformed into an open air bazaar of hand-woven sweaters, colorful handicrafts, original paintings, silver and fresh tropical fruit and vegetables.
Day 21 Transfer out.
** Please note that we will attempt to summit Cotopaxi. There is no guarantee that we will summit.
Activities: Mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, mountaineering, glacier climbing, kayaking, cultural exchange.
***Each participant is responsible for their own airfare to and from Quito, Ecuador.
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