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Cotopaxi Volcano

Parque Nacional Cotopaxi is in the central Andes of Ecuador, about 50 km southeast of central Quito.

Cotopaxi, the central feature of the national park, is nearly 5,900 m in height and is one of the highest active volcanoes on earth, although its present activity is limited to a few steam fumaroles. The landscape of the park is typical of recently active volcanic areas, and there are several peaks in the protected zone well over 4,000 m in altitude.



Flora and fauna[edit]

With most of the park well above 3,500 m in altitude, the vegetation is typical of the tropical high Andes with scrubby woodlands in protected valley areas and open grasslands covering the lower slopes of Cotopaxi and other peaks. The landscape of the Paramo is an important feature of the park, a natual water filtering system for the streams coming off Cotopaxi's glacial areas. That water is an important part of Quito's water supply.

A number of rare Andean species are protected in the park including infrequently seen condors, spectacled bear, and brocket deer along with more commonly viewed foxes, white tail deer and rabbits.


Although Cotopaxi is only about 100 km south of the equator, its climate is dictated by altitude and there is perpetual snow about 4,500 m. In the more popular areas of the park, the highest temperatures rarely exceed 20 degrees, and night temperatures fall below freezing. The rainy season is Summer, late December to March, although rain is possible at other times as well.

Get in[edit]

Cotopaxi is accessible by car from the Ecuadorian capital Quito, and other parts, too.


There is no entrance fee. Additional fees are charged to ascend Cotopaxi, and guides are required.

Get around[edit]

The entrance is free, a guide is required for a hike on the peak.

See[edit][add listing]

Andean Condor - Cotopaxi Museum
  • Cotopaxi Museum and Visitor Center. 8AM-4PM (closed 12PM-1PM). A small museum featuring a collection of stuffed wildlife (including an Andean condor), a relief map of the volcano, and some explanatory material.  edit
  • Limpiopungo Lagoon. A large lagoon at an elevation of 3,850m, probably left over from glacial activity, is a good place for panoramic views of Cotopaxi and nearby Rumiñahui, as well as seagulls and occasional condors.  edit
  • Inca Ruins (Pucara del Salitre), (located in the southeast of the park). These are the ruins of an Inca military fortress used to control passage of armies and goods to the surrounding areas. It was discovered in 1987 by Ecuadorian archeologists.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

The beautiful landscape that the andean region has. Mountain biking paradise. You have to hire bikes in advance, no bikes available at the park. Horseback riding is superb! ask at Hacienda El Porvenir for horseback rides, or at Pedregal Community, 5 km from the North Entrance to the park. Bird watching in Limpiopungo Lake. Climb Rumiñahui Volcano

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

You can eat at the lodge on the hike up Cotopaxi.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

El Refugio

There is a hostel an hour's drive away called Secret Garden - Cotopaxi. Cost is $38/per person per night in a dorm. Includes three meals. Private room is $44-49/per person per night, based on two people. Private bath and toilet. Contact Secret Garden in Quito.


Inside the park there are refugios for climbers, but most lodging is outside the park limits, and some visitors come on day trips out from Quito. All inclusive lodging is available at several quite luxurious haciendas near the park limits, for example Hacienda el Porvenir, while cheaper lodging is available in the small towns close to the park. There is a working hacienda on the east side of the park that offers campsites (firepit, running water, bathroom) as well as individual rooms. See

  • Tambopaxi, +(593 2) 2220241, [1]. The only lodging available within the park itself, this lodge is popular with climbers and also provides meals. Access to the Refugio on the way to the summit is easy from here. $20/night.  edit
  • Refugio. The Refugio is located about half way up the volcano from surrounding elevation and provides temporary and overnight housing for those planning to summit Cotopaxi. Meals are provided and guides are required. Visitors who climb to the Refugio from the parking lot for a short visit can also find water and snacks here. Note: As at 8th July 2014, The Refugio is currently undergoing some major renovations and all the facilities are not available. Most summit attempts are either using Tambopaxi or the campground near Laguna de Limpiopungo as a base camp.  edit
  • Tierra del Volcan/Hacienda El Porvenir (""directions=""), +(593 2)2041520, [2]. A traditional working hacienda that offers accommodation, restaurant and a good variety of adventure activities, plus guided tours within the park. $20/night.  edit


Parque Nacional Cotopaxi has two camp sites administered by Ministerio del Ambiente - La Rinconda and Condirhuaico. Both are free and are located just South of Laguna de Limpiopungo. The La Rinconda campsite (on the right heading south from the Laguna) has toilet, cooking facilities and water. Note that it is also used for picnics and football games, so it is best not to pitch your tent in the middle of the large grass space. Camping is also possible at the Area Nacional de Recreacion el Boliche on the western edge of the park.


Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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