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This expedition is an ideal choice for trekkers and mountaineers who wish to gain experience beyond the alpine altitudes and would like to climb Ecuador’s “Big Two”. We also combine the best of both worlds: trekking the humid Andean Forest – with one of the most bio-diverse ecosystem in the planet – and two spectacular high-altitude glaciated climbs. Despite a popular impression to the contrary, these are tough climbs and the effort required to climb all these mountains in one expedition should not be underestimated. Ecuador is without doubt the land of volcanoes, with more than thirty significant peaks in this small country.
Benegas Brothers uses only expert guides and our low climber to guide ratio (2:1) which translates into higher summit success and most important a safer climb. Our gradual acclimatization itinerary including the incredible Condor trek aloud us to explore in the deep of the Ecuadorian rainforest to the mystical altiplano giving us a plenty of time to prepare ourselves for this climb.
Day 1 – Arrival in the Capital City of Quito
Quito at 9,350ft/2,850m. South America’s second highest capital (after La Paz, Bolivia). Our guide will be waiting at the Airport for your arrival, transfer to our Hotel.
Day 2 – City Tour of Quito City
We spend the day sightseeing in Quito. The northern capital for the Incas, Quito is considered to be one of the most beautiful of all South American capital cities with its well-preserved colonial architecture and mild climate. We visit the old town of Quito, which has been declared a World Heritage by the UNESCO. We acclimatize to the local altitude while taking an easy walk through narrow streets and historical squares, admiring the old colonial churches, buildings and houses. This day constitutes an important foundation for our acclimatization. We also have a thorough equipment check and orientation. A welcome dinner follows in the evening. Overnight stay in Quito. 2,850 m/9,350 ft.
Day 3 – Rucu Pichincha Climb
We will use the new cable car to get to an altitude of 3,966m / 13,012ft from. From there we will hike to the top of Ruco Pichincha (4,698m /15,413ft) in three hours. After returning to Quito, we will travel by bus to Termas Papallacta, (11,800ft). Overnight at Papallacta.
Day 4 – Acclimatization hike to the La Virgen High Pass
Today after breakfast, our bus will take us to the entrance of the Cayambe- Coca Ecological Reserve (3,574m/11,726 ft.) from where we will hike to the La Virgen High Pass (3,952m/12,966 ft.). Along the hike we will pass by several lakes including Laguna Sucus located at an elevation of 4,000m/13,123ft. Our bus will be waiting at La Virgen to take us back to Termas Papallacta. The duration of the hike is 6 hours
Day 5 – Beginning of the Condor Trek
From Termas Papallacta we will drive to the head trail known as El Tambo (3,400 meters/11,150 ft.) where our kit and supplies will be loaded on mules and we will begin the 5 hour hike through the Andean grasslands to the shores of Volcano Lake located at an elevation of 3,800meters/12,470 ft. m where we will set up our first camp.
Day 6 – Second Day of the Condor Trek
After having breakfast, we will start hiking east towards the base of Antisana. On the way, we will enjoy magnificent views of the fourth highest mountain in Ecuador, the Santa Lucia Lake and the high plateaus. It will take us 6 hours to reach our second camp site that will be at 4,086m/13,405ft.
Day 7 – Third Day Of The Condor Trek
Today we will hike to the edge of the glacier located at an altitude of 4,789m/15,713 ft. before returning to spend our second night at base camp.
Day 8 – Glacier Travel Training
After breakfast we travel in the 4 wheel drive up to Advance Base Camp. From there we will hike for an hour up to the glacier for a glacier school. Return to Base Camp to spend the night.
Day 9 – Move to Advance Base Camp and preparation for the climb
In the morning we break camp and move up to ABC. We spend the afternoon preparing our climbing gear and head to bed early so that we are well rested for are early departure on the summit climb.
Day 10 – Summit Day Antisana
We rise before midnight where our cook will have breakfast waiting in the dinning tent. At midnight we head out with our guides on the summit climb. Antisana has challenging glaciers where we climb small steps to avoid the larger crevassed areas. We wind around towers of glacier ice and as the sun rises to a most spectacular of a dozen volcanoes throughout all of Ecuador. After the climb we will travel to Los Mortiños Lodge located in the middle of cowboy country.
Day 11 – Transfer to Tambopaxi
Today we rest and have a relaxing morning enjoying breakfast and fantastic views of Cotopaxi. The region around Cotopaxi has the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes. In the early afternoon we travel by bus to Cotopaxi National Park. We stay at Tambopaxi (3,766m / 12,356ft).
Day 12 – Move to Jose Rivas Lodge, preparation for Summit Day Cotopaxi
After breakfast, our transport will take us to the park land on the northern slopes of Cotopaxi (4600m / 15,100ft). From there, we hike for approximately an hour to the Jose Ribas Refuge (4,800m / 15,750ft). Once at the hut, we prepare the climb of the most coveted Ecuadorian mountain: Cotopaxi.
Day 13 – Summit Day Cotopaxi
We begin the climb at about one in the morning. An early start allows us to take advantage of the better snow conditions and thus travel more quickly and safely. The normal route is technically not challenging but physically demanding. It involves climbing on moderate glaciated slopes (generally 30° – 45°). After approximately seven to eight hours of climbing we reach the top where we can enjoy magnificent views of the gigantic crater and of mountains such as Antisana, Cayambe and Chimborazo. After the summit climb, we descend Cotopaxi and head back to Quito.
Day 14- Return Home
With some big smiles!
Several U.S. airlines offer daily flights to Quito, Ecuador (UIO). Flights generally arrive late in the evening on Day 1 of the itinerary.
Flights departing Quito may be booked for any time on the final day of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Ecuador. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without a visa.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Travel Advisories/ Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
In Country Transportation
The provided transportation in Ecuador as stated in the itinerary is via private vehicle.
Upon arrival at the Quito airport, follow the signs to the Arrivals Building. Proceed to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay. Please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay in Ecuador.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
After you have gathered your baggage and passed through Customs you will find a desk in front of the exit gate where you can ask for a taxi. Take a taxi to our hotel. A fixed price of approximately $25 to $30 is in place.
The current currency of Ecuador is the U.S. Dollar. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You should find that $200-$300 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Quito, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of urban areas.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
All of the meals served on Benegas Brothers Expeditions trips are a combination of the best local and regional fares along with occasional specialty items brought from the US. We are happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. We practice an expedition motto of “happiness through eating!”
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain lunches for 5 days. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Ecuador, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Breakfast and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
Our international trips feature local standard four-five star accommodations in the larger cities and towns. These hotels offer all of the amenities you would expect; room service, laundry, wireless internet…etc. They are often close to the local points of interest, unique shops and colorful markets, and offer guests a comfortable place to relax between the trip activities.
During our treks and climbs we will be camping with Style. You might find yourself waking up to a hot tea delivered with a smile right to the foot of your tent each morning, or playing cards in the dining tent during afternoon tea with new acquaintances, or enjoying a fine meal prepared by our cook staff that is present on each trip. Camping will take on a new meaning for you!
Nov 20 – Nov 30 2016
Dec 4 – Dec 14 2016
Jan 2 – Jan 12 2017
Backpacking experience; very good physical condition; basic Level of snow and glacier travel skills.
Acquire climbing skills on steeper snow and ice. Developed a good sense of glacier travel. Aclimatize in Ruco Pichincha 4,698m /15,413ft, summit Antisana 18,874ft/ 5752m. Cotopaxi 19,348/ 5,911m.
Aconcagua Expeditions, Khumbu Climber, Mexico Volcanoes, Bolivia Alpinist, Elbrus.
$3,500 (minimum of 3)
Private Guide Cost:
Included are the following:
Not included are the following:
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
What a feeling to stand on the top of Cotopaxi! This was my third climb with Benegas Brothers Expeditions, and my greatest achievement yet. I can honestly say I wouldn't have made it without the expertise of Willie and Damian Benegas. Our acclimatizing process, the intimate size of our group, and the special training my girlfriend and I received was once again, the best in the industry.
BBE has never failed to provide me with anything but the best journey, understanding and chance to become a part of the local environment and people, as well as focusing on the continued growth of my physical abilities, climbing knowledge and experience while participating in successful, safe, and fun climbs. I feel so fortunate to have Willie Benegas as my guide. He has made climbing actually possible for me, who at 56, only began climbing two years ago. With his training I am pursuing a dream I never thought possible and it has positively changed my life forever. Additionally, BBE cares so much for the environment and Leave No Trace Principles, and all their staff are amazing individuals... I am so happy to now have you all as a part of my life. Thanks BBE!
We can organize this expedition on a ‘tailor-made’ private basis for groups of friends, families, clubs, charities or any other group. Depending on your mountaineering experience, you may want a BBE leader or go ‘self-led’ with the assistance of local guides. The cost of going private can be surprisingly reasonable, particularly if you take the self-led option. Please contact us to discuss the itinerary and your preferred dates. We will then send you a quote, with no obligation.