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Active & Wellness

Holiday Length

5 days

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Ecuador for the adventurous

Serious adventurers can get their natural highs on a five-day trek across the northern Andes to the summit of Cayambe volcano. Despite its location, right on the equator, Ecuador’s third tallest volcano stands snowcapped and mesmerising all year long. To get here, you’ll cross the green valleys of Otavalo, known for its vibrant tapestries and hike to solitary crater lakes that offer a multitude of breath-stealing vistas. 

Crater lakes and calderas

From Quito, it’s a two-hour drive north to the majestic Andean mountains. Wind through the valleys and fields surrounding Otavalo town, famed for its highland market. From here, take a small road, which leads you to the Mojanda lagoon. This cloud-brushing crater lake is starting point of your trek to the Fuya Fuya. This volcano collapsed a 165,000 years ago, creating a large caldera and subsequently various lava domes. Hike across high-altitude grassland to reach its scenic panoramas. You can recuperate down in Otavalo.

Scale a volcano

Wake up early for a hearty breakfast. Today’s adventure starts in the foothills of Imbabura, an imposing, inactive stratovolcano flanked by sugarcane plantations and a patchwork of cattle-dotted meadows. Scaling its gentle fertile slopes is the best way of acclimatising as you climb slowly through tall grass and rocky outcrops from 3,400 to 4,600 metres. At the summit, soak up the endless valley views. There’s plenty of time to take photos. Return to Otavalo for a well-deserved rest.

Climb to Cuicocha

Limber up for a five-hour trek to Cuicocha crater lake. Located at the foot of the Cotachi volcano. Its three lava domes, expansive blue and forested islands are a humbling sight. Soak it up from all angles as you hike along the steep caldera rim. Head back to Otavalo to explore its iconic indigenous market, which is full of colourful textiles, craftwork and fresh highland produce. After a spot of souvenir shopping, its back to your hotel to relax. 

Climb Cayambe

Your journey continues to the Cayambe volcano, the third loftiest in Ecuador. What makes it so special is its unique topography. Located bang on the equator, rising out of tropical surrounds, it remains snowcapped all year round. At an elevation of nearly 6,000 metres, the hike to the summit is adventurous, but you’ll be rewarded with glorious views of the rolling green below. Spend the night in a mountain lodge, the ideal place to bunk down.

To the summit

Steal out at midnight to make the most of the light. You may feel bleary eyed, but the crack-of-dawn wake-up call is worth it, as you watch the sun start to bathe the snow and ice. It takes around nine hours to make it to the summit. You’ll cross crevasses and sparkling glaciers, and you may just spot an Andean condor hovering in the wind. At the peak, you can bask in what feels like the top of the world, gazing out over a carpet of fluffy white cloud and cerulean sky.

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