Climb the World’s highest active volcano
Challenge yourself on this 10-day adventure to the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi, a stunning glaciated peak in Ecuador. Over 7 days you’ll acclimatise and prepare for an attempt to the summit via the snow slopes and glaciers of its northern slopes. Cold weather, steep glacial ascents and the thin air all of high altitude all add to the challenge!
Incredible mountainous terrains
Ecuador is packed with variety, culture, great food, wonderful people and incredible mountainous terrain. Its volcanoes are a magnet for trekkers and mountaineers – Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world at 5,897m and gets all the glory. With it’s almost perfect cone shape and its close vicinity to the vibrant and historical city of Quito, it is a popular climb and a very exciting trek. Cotopaxi has a glaciated summit and it requires us to use ropes, ice axes and crampons. Our local team will train us on the use of ice axes and crampons. The build up treks and ascents give you the perfect acclimatisation you need for a successful summit!
Life on the trek
On an Action Challenge trip you’ll be part of a team which takes on an adventure together – and that’s what makes the experience so special. Getting to know others, supporting each other when the going gets tough, laughing together, and sharing those special moments & the new friendships that will stay with you for many years. Led by a UK Mountain Leader and supported by a Medic overseeing the group’s wellbeing – you’ll be in safe hands, and our expert local logistics team & guides will ensure it all runs like clockwork. These are ‘fully inclusive’ trips – leaving you to focus on your challenge, and to enjoy it!
An Action Challenge trip is much more than a holiday! It brings like-minded people together in fantastic landscapes, provides the best support & great hospitality, and enables the group to take on a tough & unforgettable challenge which forges new friendships, broaden horizons, and leaves you wanting more of life’s adventures!
The blueprint for Action Challenge trip is based on delivering a high quality enjoyable experience – and doing it all safely. An experienced UK Mountain Leader ensures that all aspects of the challenge run to plan – and one of our UK Medics with an expedition med kit is on-hand to look after the group’s wellbeing – enabling everyone to have the best chance of successfully competing their challenge.
We go to great lengths to ensure that we only use the best local organisations to supply the all-important ground logistics and the on-challenge support, catering, and hospitality teams – with experienced guides leading the way on the trails with their deep local knowledge and authentic style.
Like minded people with a similar sense of adventure – but often from very different backgrounds, and with a wide range of experience, ages, levels of fitness, and personal ambitions. Our trips are perfect for individuals, couples, and small groups of friends to join – and then to take on a unique challenge as part of a larger group which shapes & bonds as the adventure unfolds!
Whether its’s the hotels, restaurants & transfers before & after the main challenge – or the challenge accommodation & meals whilst out on the trails – our all inclusive packages mean that you will get a top quality experience at a great value price! Flights are generally included, but there’s a ‘land only’ option if you’d prefer to book your own – and single supplement accommodation upgrades are available.
The group comes together – takes on a tough challenge together – and then celebrates its achievements in style on the final night of the trip in a local restaurant or hotel, with medals, awards, and a maybe a bit of a party! Many of our participants make new special friends on our trips – and quite a few come back together for another challenge in the following years!
A successful challenge starts with good preparation. The better prepared you are the more confident you’ll be, and the more you’ll enjoy it! Our ‘Challenge App’ will have all the info & details of what to expect on your challenge – and how to prepare for it – and we have optional training walks, training weekends , and a place on one of our UK Ultra Challenge events to get out on the tails and test your fitness, kit, & equipment.
Itinerary & Route
Please note that some details of the itinerary may change, you will be provided with a detailed itinerary once you are signed up to the challenge.
We fly to Quito, Ecuador and enjoy a meal in our favourite restaurant that evening before we settle in for a good sleep. On day 2 we take things easy to acclimatise to the rarefied atmosphere and to recover from the long journey. We explore Quito’s famous Colonial Quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with churches, lively plazas and museums. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Mitad del Mundo where the equatorial line passes, dividing the Earth in 2 hemispheres, before visiting the famous Inti-nan museum.
Meals: D on Day 1, BLD on Day 2 Accom: Hotel both days
Day 3 we head to our trailhead in the foothills of Mt. Pasochoa and traverse the beautiful moorlands to the base of the rocky mountain, a trek that offers us our best chance to see the Andean Condor. One of the best treks acclimatisation getting us all prepared for a Cotopaxi summit. From the top there are some of the most beautiful vistas in the Central Andes and on a clear day we can see Cotopaxi.
Day 4 takes us to Runinahui, a long-extinct volcano in the Cotopaxi National Park, south of Quito. It has 3 seperate peaks, although they are not considered separate mountains, unlike the Illinizas which we climb later. This climb is perfect for breath-taking views of the peaks of Elz Corazon, Illinizas and of course the ever present Cotopaxi.
Meals: BLD both days Accom: Hotel both days
Day 5 is an acclimatisation rest day, we start early for a wonderful day of trekking. Quilotoa is a volcanic crater filled with crystal clear blue water and is a must see on our Ecuadorean challenge. We enjoy fantastic views of the Andes and Toachi Gorge along the way, and many indigenous communities and agricultural areas which we have the opportunity to visit. Once in Quilotoa we descend into the extinct volcanic crater to the lagoon.
For day 6 our starting point is called “The Virgin” at about 4,000m, a place where locals come to celebrate both the mountain and earth. We soak in constant views of snow-capped peaks and beautiful green lagoons on our trek. Our height gain today starts getting serious with the ascent to Illinizas North, an essential preparation for Cotopaxi. It’s a steep climb with some minor scrambling, though breath-taking scenery reaching the summit at over 5,000m!
Meals: BLD both days Accom: Hotel both days
Today we transfer to the base of the mountain and we start our preparatory climb along easy tracks towards the Jose Rivas refuge at 4,864m where we spend a few hours before our summit bid. When we arrive we have an early supper and get a few hours sleep before it’s time to get up for our night climb. We’re off by midnight and we climb the tough steep paths firstly on volcanic sand, then snow and finally glaciers that lead to the beautiful summit cone of Cotopaxi. After 6-8 hours we should reach the summit in time to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and the incomparable views to the North to Quito, as well as the mighty Chimborazo to the South. From the top of the mountain we can also see into the snow-covered crater. When we are ready to descend we take just two hours to get the refuge and then onwards to our waiting support vehicle. After lunch at our Hacienda, we transfer back to Quito and relax and recover from an exhausting morning. Tonight we celebrate together to mark the end of an incredible challenge.
Meals: BLD Accom: Mountain Refuge Day 7 & Hotel Day 8
On day 9 we say goodbye to this incredible country and transfer to the airport in time for our International flight home, arriving in the UK on the morning of day 10.
Meals: B Day 9 Accom: Flight
Costs & Fundraising
We’ve three payment & fundraising options for you to take on this challenge.
Sign up with a £295 online deposit & balance payment due 12 weeks before, with no fundraising target.
Sign up with a £295 online deposit & fundraise for a charity of your choice, with different target options.
The Challenge brochure details the full itinerary, inclusions, dates & prices – download for a full run down of the challenge details.