Cotopaxi Volcano Tour with San Agustin de Callo Hacienda, daily, private
A special nature lovers' full-day tour to the world's highest active volcano, Cotopaxi and its namesake National Park. Discover the Andean moorlands or paramo with some unique fauna and flora and enjoy breathtaking landscapes. Lunch at one of the charming hosterias (country inns) or hacienda in the area.
Follow the footsteps of the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt and discover what in 1802 he called the Avenue of the Volcanoes. This route is surrounded by snowcapped summits and the mystical beauty that, in times past, nourished the mythology of early cultures and later provided incentive to the conquering Spanish to settle here. Brooks and rivers run down from the mountains past small villages of adobe houses and terraced farmlands. Where the land is worked beneath the plow, one might think the farmers true objective was to paint the hills in fascinating patterns, not just to till the dark, fertile soil.
Early departure from Quito by motorcar on the Pan-American Highway to the south, to visit the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 88,920 acres, around the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, which rises 5897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. The evergreen landscape of the Ecuadorian highlands is one of the main attractions, along valleys and mountains covered by multicolored fields. After an hour and a half, the entrance to the park is reached and then it’s up a dirt road for approximately one hour.
Upon arrival to the park there is an introductory briefing about the habitat of the Andean paramo or moorlands, its flora and fauna in the small Interpretation Center. Continue on to Limpiopungo Lagoon to observe a variety of birds and occasionally wild horses. On clear days, the Cotopaxi Volcano is the magnificent backdrop. A short walk around the lagoon allows the observation of the Andean flora. Lunch is at a hacienda San Agustin del Callo, this state was built on the site of an Inca palace, one of the two most important archaeological Inca sites in Ecuador, and the point furthest north from Cuzco of Imperial style construction, this working farm offers an unrivalled glimpse into Ecuador's rich and colourful past. Since the 15th century San Agustin de Callo has served as Inca fortress, Augustinian convent and temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission whose scientific results helped to determine the true shape of the planet. Famous visitors include Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa who were appointed by the King of Spain to host the Geodesic Mission in 1736, the awesome scientific enterprise organized and led by French Charles-Marie de la Condamine; Alexander von Humboldt German scientist and renowned naturalist and explorer and the illustrious English mountain climber Edward Whymper were also notable guest here. In 1921 the Hacienda was purchased by General Leonidas Plaza Gutierrez, leader of the liberal Revolution. Plaza went on to become President of Ecuador in 1901 and again in 1912, a position which was to be held by his son Galo Plaza in 1948. The Hacienda has remained in the family to this day.
Lunch and return to Quito in the afternoon.
- Round trip ground transportation and guide
- Entrance fee to the National Park
- Entrance fees to National Parks, Natural Reserves, community projects, and others are included in the excursions or have no cost. Unless otherwise is specified in each tour section.
Our recommendations for the best possible experience
- Warm clothing is needed ( rain jacket, sweater, long sleeves)
- Hat or cap.
- Sunblock (SPF 40) even if is overcast
- Altitude: 2800 to 4000 meters (9800 - 12,120 feet)
- Average Temperature Day: 5° to 20° C (40° to 68° F)
- This tour includes walking at an approximate altitude of 3900 meters (12.000 feet)
- Good walking shoes. (no sandals)
- No shorts!
- Don´t forget your camera.
Some Special Highlights
Paramo: Occurs at elevations above the tree line. Starts at 10,496 up to 13,120 feet (3,200 up to 4,000 meters). Nightly frosts. Between the temperate Montane valleys and the snows of the highest peaks stretch high-altitude grasslands characterized by chill mists and low, spongy vegetation spotted with sharp grasses and shrubs.
High levels of ultraviolet light and wet, often freezing conditions have caused the sturdy layer of páramo vegetation to develop thick waxy leaf skins covered with fine hairs for insulation. Plants lay low on the ground to escape the wind, the temperature variations, and grow leaves in a circle to make sure none shades the others.
Located in the Andes mountains in central Ecuador, Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world. Cotopaxi which means "neck of the moon", rises from a valley about 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level to a height of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level. The width of its crater from west to east has been estimated at more than 500 meters (1,650 feet) and the width from north to south at about 700meters (2,300 feet). The perfectly formed snow-covered cone of Cotopaxi is 1,341 meters (4,400 feet.) high.
Surrounding Cotopaxi Volcano is the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 36,000 hectares (88,920 acres), especially attractive for nature lovers, with the treeless vegetation of the Andean moorlands or paramo. You may see herds of llamas and perhaps deer, rabbits, frogs and lizards. Bird life includes the Andean gull, ducks, several species of hummingbirds and with some luck, the condor.
The first recorded eruption of the volcano was in 1534, at the time of the Spanish conquest, frightening both conquered and conquistadors alike. The last major eruption was in 1877.
||Rates per Person (US$)
|PRICES PER PERSON 2013
||4 - 5
|6 - 9
||10 - 15
||16 - 20
Discover the magic of the Andean region
The joy of living with the simplicity and relaxed atmosphere of a bygone era. The two Andean cordilleras that run parallel and cross Ecuador from north to south, offer a most varied topography: volcanoes and snow capped mountains, green valleys and impressive Colonial cities like Quito and Cuenca, quaint Indian villages, farmlands, haciendas, lakes and rivers of crystal blue waters.
The capital of Ecuador, Quito, brings the past to life in its museums, monasteries, the carved stone facades and golden altars of its many churches, as well as in the Archaeological Museum that displays centuries of pre-Columbian treasures. Enjoy scenic, Colonial and artistic Quito, then stand with a foot on each hemisphere at the Middle of the World.
The province of Imbabura is located in northern Ecuador, a picturesque land of lakes, majestic sierras and terraced farmlands, home to the Otavalo Indians, industrious and enterprising people, who offer their products at the famous outdoor market, full of ponchos, embroidered blouses, ceramics, wall hangings, native jewelry and authentic Panama hats. Near Otavalo are charming country inns and haciendas to stay overnight, and explore this wonderful area at a more leisurely pace.
Beginning in Quito and going south, is the Avenue of the Volcanoes with unparalleled views of the Andes. Mount Cotopaxi dominates the landscape of a National Park of the same name, where llamas graze and high-elevation bird species fly, including the Andean Condor. Our exclusive Hacienda programs provide an in-depth experience of Andean flavor, with stays at marvelous properties, as guests of the owners. For the more adventurous, the Andes are the perfect setting for trekking, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and many more outdoor adventures.
The colorful and popular tourist resort town of Baños on the slopes of active Mt. Tungurahua offer breathtaking sights and opportunities for some adventure sports as well as the soothing relaxation of hot springs and thermal baths. On the south of the Andes is Cuenca, another colonial city rich in art, architecture and a superb handicraft center. It shares with Quito the honor of being World Cultural Heritage Cities.
Spectacular train rides, on exclusive coaches of Metropolitan Touring’s Chiva Express, run from the Andean highlands to the Pacific shores, with the thrill of zigzagging the sharp angles of the Devil's Nose.
Private tours offer exclusive arrangements with multilingual guides for both FIT´s or groups. Semiprivate tours are operated on vans with a maximum of nine guests; while our sharing bus tours have a capacity of up to forty guests. Both semiprivate and sharing bus tours are guided with English/Spanish speaking guide only.