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Climbing Cotopaxi and then Machu Picchu

Original Post
Ana Lindsey · · Richmond, VA · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

I'm planning a trip to climb Cotopaxi in Ecuador and then zip south to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. Planning on two weeks in December, first week for acclimatization and then Cotopaxi, second week for Machu Picchu. Has anyone done a similar trip? Any advise on acclimatizing/climbing Cotopaxi? Planning on hiring a local guide rather than an American outfitter. If you're interested in partnering up, let me know! 

Matt Desenberg · · Limerick, ME · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 160

I did Cotopaxi back in 2002 and we hiked around Laguna Mojanda beforehand, which worked well. 17km south (?) of Otavalo.

sean o · · Northern, NM · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 30

I was down there in January for Cotopaxi.  Otavalo is a nice town to visit, and Laguna Mojanda is scenic.  I walked, but you can probably get a truck taxi up there for $10-15, and it's an easy hike up Fuya Fuya.  Another easy way to acclimate is to take the tram from Quito up Pichincha, then hike to Ruca and possibly Guagua Pichincha.

Have a backup plan, though -- they only reopened Cotopaxi last October, and it was active enough that I smelled sulfur pretty much the whole way up.

David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 144

Assuming you'll be based out of Quito for the first part of your trip, taking the Teleferico partway up Pichincha gets you a lot of altitude pretty easily for cheap, with an easy escape if you're too altitude sick. It's a good easy first-day-in-Quito acclimatization trip (I'm hesitant to call it a "hike"). You can hike further up too, but it does become more than just a hike at some point. Rucu Pichincha is also a peak in its own right, although nobody will be impressed that you climbed from the top of the Teleferico. :) Rucu Pichincha isn't a hard or dangerous peak but it is one of the Andes and a tourist climbing alone did die while I was there--just use good mountaineering sense and you'll be fine.

I stayed at El Hosetelito: they have a lot of connections with local guides and can set you up with guides more easily than doing it on your own. And they're extremely inexpensive.

Fleetwood Matt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 610

I lived in Ecuador for 2 years a long time ago.  It has a special place in my heart.  I'm sure it's changed a lot but there are as many amazing adventures as you're willing to sniff out.  Illiniza is a standard precursor acclimatization peak at 17k.  Give yourself plenty of time to acclimatize and you won't suffer so much on Coto.  We did a mountain bike day ride from a 15k shoulder on Chimbo down to the Amazon at Tena. I always wanted to summit chimbo via bicycle starting at the Pacific but that's still on the to-do list.  Buen viaje!

Will Haden · · KC, MO · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 90

+1 for El Hostelito. My time in Quito wasn't climbing related, but I stayed there for a night and really enjoyed it. 

Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,016

Is there any reason you're not looking at high altitude peaks closer to Machu Picchu? They have a number of good options which would maximize your climbing/trekking and minimize travel and expense.

While you can apparently talk your way out of the guided situation in Ecuador, be aware there are a number of cheap and sketchy guys who prey on unacclimatized people wanting to take a quick jaunt up Cotopaxi. Sometimes they even plan for failure and sickness kicking in. I'd highly recommend acclimatizing on a scrambly walkup like Illiniza Norte and the relatively less-popular but scenic glaciated Cayambe. Illiniza Sur is fun but it was in pretty bad shape several years ago so no idea what it looks like now. A week is plenty for three peaks in Ecuador.

Illiniza Sur (L; route goes up the glaciated back side) and Norte (R; route goes up the dry front side)


Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 6,655

Ruminahui is a good warm up right in the park. It will get you to almost 16k and give you great views of Cotopaxi.

Ana Lindsey · · Richmond, VA · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks everyone! El Hostelito is noted. To the point of why not peaks in Peru - there's some nostalgia involved. I lived in Ecuador for a year and it's been many years since. I'm longing to go back, as it holds a special place in my heart. I had the chance to climb Cotopaxi then and foolishly turned it down. It's calling to me now and has been on my mind since the peak reopened last year :) Ecuador/Cotopaxi is my #1 objective and Machu Picchu is an add-on b/c I'll have the time off work to play and it's on my to-do adventure list. Point well taken to have a backup plan in case the mountain decides grumble and groan. 

Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

+1 for Cayambe and Laguna Mojanda .

You should be peeing clear by the time you land in Quito.

Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187

My suggestion see Ecuador again. Here is the issue, you may get down there and the weather will be be shit. You wait out a few days and a clearing is coming but then you have a flight booked to Peru. If ya get lucky and bag Cotopaxi head to Chimborazo and give it a go.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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