Watch Active Cotopaxi Erupt

How to safely watch the Cotopaxi volcano’s eruptions

Cotopaxi is an active volcano that is currently erupting in the Andes Mountains of central Ecuador. It is located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital city of Quito. Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, with an elevation of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level, making it one of the most attractive climbs in South America. However, the extremely levels of volcanic activity in late 2022 and early 2023 means the volcano will be officially closed to mountain climbers for at least the next two years for safety reasons.

Nevertheless, while the volcano is off limits to mountain climbers (who are recommended to climb Mount Chimborazo or Mount Carihuairazo) visitors can still watch the volcanic activity from a safe distance inside Cotopaxi National Park. The park rangers guarding the entrance to Cotopaxi National Park are constantly monitoring the volcanic activity with seismologists, and will refuse entry if the volcano becomes dangerously active. When the volcano is only smoking, however, visitors have often arrived to the mountain refuge as well as various lookouts below.

How to get to the Cotopaxi refuge by car:

  1. Start from Quito: The starting point for most visitors is the city of Quito, which is located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Cotopaxi.
  2. Take the Pan-American Highway: From Quito, head south on the Pan-American Highway, which is the main road that runs through Ecuador.
  3. Drive to Latacunga: Continue on the highway until you reach Latacunga, a city located about 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Quito.
  4. Take the road to Machachi: In Latacunga, take the road that leads to the town of Machachi, which is located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Latacunga.
  5. Turn onto the road to Cotopaxi National Park: From Machachi, turn onto the road that leads to Cotopaxi National Park. This road will take you through the town of Papallacta and eventually up to the park entrance.
  6. Drive to the refuge: From the park entrance, continue driving up the road to the Cotopaxi refuge, which is located at an elevation of 4,800 meters (15,744 feet) above sea level.

Note: it’s important to consider that the road to the refuge can be in poor condition and might not be accessible during inclement weather, so it’s recommended to check the road conditions before starting your journey. Also, some areas around Cotopaxi can only be accessed with a 4×4 vehicle.

climbing chimborazo

Precautions When Climbing at High-Altitude

When climbing at high altitude in Ecuador, it is important to take several precautions to ensure a safe and successful climb.

First, it is essential to acclimatize properly before attempting to climb any of the high-altitude peaks in Ecuador, such as Mount Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Cayambe. This can be done by gradually increasing the altitude at which you spend your time and by taking rest days at lower elevations. Climbing high-altitude peaks too quickly can lead to altitude sickness, which can be fatal if left untreated.

It is also crucial to be in good physical condition before attempting to climb any of these peaks. High altitude climbing requires a significant amount of exertion, and it is important to be able to handle the physical demands of the climb.

Another important precaution is to make sure that you have the proper equipment and clothing for the climb. This includes warm clothing and layers, waterproof gear, a good pair of hiking boots, and a quality climbing helmet. Additionally, it is important to make sure that you have enough food and water to last the entire climb, as well as any emergency supplies that you may need in case of an accident or injury.

The weather is also important to take into account: Climbing in Ecuador can be unpredictable, and it is important to be prepared for any type of weather. This includes having the proper gear for cold, wet, and windy conditions, as well as the ability to quickly adjust to changing weather conditions.

chimborazo descent
The descent when climbing back down from the peak of Mount Chimborazo

In addition to these precautions, it is also important to be aware of the risks associated with high-altitude climbing, and to have a plan in case of an emergency. This includes having a good understanding of the mountain and the route, as well as knowing how to use any equipment or supplies that you may have with you.

Finally, it is important to have a good guide or experienced climbing partner. High-altitude climbing can be dangerous, and having someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about the mountain, the route, and the conditions can greatly increase your chances of a safe and successful climb.

In conclusion, climbing at high-altitude in Ecuador can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By taking the proper precautions, such as acclimatizing properly, being in good physical condition, having the right equipment and clothing, being prepared for the weather, being aware of the risks, having a plan in case of an emergency, and having a good guide or climbing partner, you can greatly increase your chances of a safe and successful climb.

Cotopaxi National Park Closed

The Geophysical Institute of Ecuador (IG) issued an alert for a cloud of gases, steam and little ash over the crater of the Cotopaxi volcano.

The alert was issued this Thursday, November 24, 2022, through Twitter, where it details that the cloud of steam, gases and low ash content reaches a level of 800 meters above the level of the crater.
More about gases

The direction of the cloud is to the northeast. However, there is no possibility of ash fall in areas surrounding the volcano.

The institution’s report, dated November 22, points out that since the night of October 21, a low-frequency tremor signal was recorded associated with an emission of gases and ash that produced a moderate fall of this material on the northern flank of the volcano, including the José Rivas Refuge.

The emission has been almost continuous ever since, with columns reaching up to 2 kilometers above crater level.

The parameters monitored by the IG-EPN show that the Cotopaxi volcano still has low internal activity, marked by a seismicity slightly above the reference level since 2015.

It is explained that the volcanic gases, the values ​​remain above the referential level after the 2015 eruption and have a magmatic origin. The crater temperature measurements show values ​​similar to those after 2015. Spanish source El Comercio.

Chimborazo Basecamp

Things to Know Before Climbing Chimborazo

Here at Ecuador Eco Adventure, we specialize in bringing people to some of the wildest places on planet Earth. Ecuador is a hot-bed for other-worldly terrain thanks to its location on the Equator, extreme altitudes, and miles of abandoned coastline. It’s considered one of 17 “megadiverse” countries in the entire world. When visiting a country like Ecuador where sublime natural features beckon from every direction, it is in human nature to heed an internal call to conquer, whether that be a peak, a valley, or anything in between. That’s where we come in. Not only are we here to issue clichés like “it’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be worth it”, we also take pride in creating a fun atmosphere, keeping our customers safe, and guiding visitors to the best experiences possible. Since we are based in Riobamba, we find ourselves favoring our summit tours of Chimborazo, the volcano that looms over our hometown. While anyone can enroll in a climb of Chimborazo, we understand a first attempt (or even a fifth or twentieth) at mountaineering can sometimes be intimidating, and because of that we partnered again with our friends at AllTheRooms to break down some things to know.

Stats About Chimborazo

Approximately a three-and-a-half hour drive from the capital of Quito and four-and-a-half hours north of the popular city of Cuenca stands Chimborazo the tallest point in Ecuador. That bragging point is thanks to its summit that stands 6,263 meters, or 20,548 feet, above sea level. While it may be about 9,000 feet short of Everest, because Chimborazo is located on the bulge of the equator, it is actually the closest place on the planet to the moon and the farthest point from the Earth’s core. It is the 15th tallest volcano in the world, but don’t worry, unlike its popular Ecuadorian counterpart, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo is inactive and will not erupt again. Its first successful summit occurred on January 4, 1880, by an Englishman named Edward Whymper.


While we encourage any able-bodied, fit person to give the climb a try, it is a physically demanding push to the top. Because of that we highly recommend training and acclimatizing. For those who don’t know, acclimatizing is essentially spending significant time exerting physical energy at altitudes before attempting a mountaineering attempt. To do this we recommend doing other hikes in the area that will require significant exertion and/or climbing other mountains that may not be as tall as Chimborazo, but will at least mirror the steep trek up the face of a peak. As for exercise to focus on prior to arriving in Ecuador, strong legs and a sturdy core will do some good but the best thing would be to have the best cardiovascular health and strength possible before the attempt.

Altitude Sickness and Symptoms

Every portion of the volcano will expose climbers to extreme altitude, which will be strenuous on nearly everyone’s body. Altitude sickness is always a threat and needs to be treated seriously. While the sickness can strike anytime our guides are experts at recognizing symptoms and helping those who need it. It is important to remember that all bodies react differently to altitude; some of the most athletic of people will struggle mightily, while others will not experience as much difficulty. It is common, and likely will happen, that while hiking a climber will feel shortness of breath, a rapid heart rate, and exhaustion. However, once symptoms like chest pain, debilitating headaches, and coughing-up fluid begin, it may be time to call it a day. Safety is a priority to even the most hardened of climbers, it is important to know your body. Also remember due to weather, ice conditions, and altitude illnesses, fewer than 50% of summit attempts on Chimborazo are successful, there is no shame in admiring the view from not quite the top.

Ecuador Eco Adventures Tours

At Ecuador Eco Adventures we are always ready to guide people on a once in a lifetime trek up Mount Chimborazo. Our Chimborazo climb is meant for everyone wanting to give it a try because unlike many other extreme altitude mountains, Chimborazo requires minimal technical mountaineering skill and it is affordable, when realizing the average cost of an Everest expedition is around $35,000. A climb of this magnitude can be scary and it will be hard but our guides are the best in the business. Our team of indigenous guides are all certified by multiple climbing and governmental agencies to ensure our guests’ safety and enjoyment. For those wanting to be ready for the summit, check out our acclimatizing tour, or for those keen on a different path we offer a horseback tour around Chimborazo. Happy climbing!

Author: Zack Davisson
Zack is a recovering technical recruiter who traded in his suit and tie in Silicon Valley for salsa music and a passion for writing in Medellin, Colombia. When not writing for AllTheRooms you can find Zack with his nose in a book, puttering around nature, or getting ultra-competitive while watching Jeopardy.

Riobamba Base Camp Now Open

Over the last several months Ecuador Eco Adventure has been busy constructing the Riobamba Base Camp–a backpacker hostel in Riobamba designed exlusively for hikers and climbers in Riobamba, the trekking and climbing capital of Ecuador.

Until now, the city of Riobamba did not have a single backpacker hostel.

Surprising right?

The trekking and climbing capital of Ecuador did not have a single backpacker hostel…

Instead, travelers to this beautiful colonial city in the Valley of the Volcanoes had to stay in cheap hotels–or soulless expensive ones–before and after they make a summit attempt on Chimborazo, or go hiking in Sangay National Park.

We have spent a lot of thought and effort and soul in making the Riobamba Base Camp the perfect place for clibmers and trekkers when visiting the city of Riobamba.

Check out the Riobamba Base Camp Blog to see who our first visitors were and read abou their summit attempts of Chimborazo.

Ecuador National Park Permits

May has been a great month for Ecuador Eco Adventure because Trip Advisor awarded us with the 2018 Excellence Certificate due to dozens of reviews for Ecuador climbing expeditions. This month we were also granted permissions to visit Ecuador’s most stunning national parks in the Andes:

Cotopaxi National Park
In this park we can train and acclimatise to the altitude on Volcano Ruminñahui and Sincholahua with our clients who want to Climb Cotopaxi.

Cayambe – Coca National Park
Volcano Cayambe, at 5790 meters tall, is a great beginner mountain for people that want to learn how to climb and adapt, train, and climatize for Ecuador’s highest mountain Chimborazo.

Sangay National Park
This is Ecuador’s biggest national park and was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983 due to its unique wildlife and paramo wetlands. It is also home to the Tungarahua and Sangay volcanoes as well as the most stunning treks in the Andes mountains such as the El Altar Trek and its multicolored lagoons and crater lakes.

Antisana Ecological Reserve
The world famous “Condor Trek in Ecuador” for which Ecuador Eco Adventure was recommended in the National Geographic Adventure Bucketlist is inside this Antisana Ecological Reserve. The beautiful Antisana Volcano is also located here standing at 5700 mts tall.

Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo
Riobamba, the trekking and climbing capital of Ecuador, below the Chimborazo volcano, makes our Hostel Riobamba Base Camp the perfect place to start trekking and climbing in Ecuador. This park is not only home to Chimborazo, but his beautiful smaller brother Carihuairazo as well.