Antisana, Cotopaxi, & The Condor Trek

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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”.

Upcoming Dates

Nov 20 – Dec 3

Dec 4 – Dec 17

Jan 2 – Jan 15

We also combine the best of both worlds: trekking in the humid Andean Forest with one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet, with 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. Nonetheless, Ecuador’s comfortable lodges and hot springs are truly outstanding and offer amazing comfort in-between climbs, making this an amazing 'luxury climbing' opportunity. 

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 allow us to explore from the depths of the Ecuadorian rainforest to the mystical altiplano, giving us a plenty of time to prepare ourselves for this climb.

  • Cost


    Minimum of 4

  • Duration

    14 days

  • Location

    Ecuadorian Andes

  • Client/Guide


  • View in Map

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. Termas de Papallacta.
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 this fun climb we return to Quito and take our bus to the most beautiful hot springs spa in Ecuador, Termas Papallacta (11,827 feet / 3,300m). We spend the rest of the evening enjoying a superb dinner and relaxing in the pools. Overnight stay at Termas Papallacta: 11,827 feet (3,300m).

Day 4: Acclimatization hike to the La Virgen High Pass. Termas de Papallacta.
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. The duration of the hike is around 6 hours. After our hike, our bus will be waiting at La Virgen to head back to Termas Papallacta for dinner and another evening in the spa. Overnight stay at Termas Papallacta: 11,827 feet (3,300m).

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 3,800 meters/12,470 ft 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 4,086 meters/13,405ft.

Day 7: Third Day Of The Condor Trek
Today we will continue hiking up to the edge of the Antisana glacier located at an altitude of 4,789m/15,713 ft. before we establish our Antisana Base Camp at an altitude of 4,533m/14,870ft.

Day 8: Glacier Travel Training
After breakfast we will hike for an hour up to the glacier for a day of glacier school. Return to our Base Camp to spend the night.

Day 9: Preparation for the climb
We will use the morning of this day to reinforce glacier skills. In the the afternoon, we will prepare our climbing gear and head to bed early so that we are well rested for an early departure on the summit climb.

Day 10: Summit Day Antisana. Termas de Papallacta.
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 back to Termas de Papallacta for a celebratory dinner and a well-deserved evening in the spa. Overnight stay at Termas Papallacta: 11,827 feet (3,300m).

Day 11: Transfer to Tambopaxi Lodge
After breakfast we travel to Tambopaxi Lodge (3,766m / 12,356ft), located inside the Cotopaxi National Park. From the lodge, we enjoy fantastic views of Cotopaxi. The region around Cotopaxi has the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes. Overnight at Tambopaxi.

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. Return to Quito.
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 to celebrate.

Day 14: Return Home
BBE services end today with a group transfer to the airport and some fond farewells!


Getting There
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.

Entry Requirements
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.

Airport Arrival
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 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!”

Mountain Snacks
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!

Resources and

Location: Ecuadorian Andes

Length: 14 Days

Trip Dates: Nov 20 – Dec 3
Dec 4 – Dec 17
Jan 2 – Jan 15

Prerequisites: Backpacking experience; very good physical condition; basic Level of snow and glacier travel skills

Primary Goals: 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.

Follow-up expeditions: Aconcagua Expeditions, Mexico Volcanoes, Bolivian Alpinist, Elbrus

Guide Ratio: 2:1

Max: 6 climbers

Group Cost: $4,550 (minimum of 4)

Deposit: $750

Private Guide Cost: $7,750

Trip fee includes the following:

  • BBE Leadership
  • Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
  • All park entrance fees and climbing permits
  • Sight seeing arrangements as indicated in the itinerary
  • All group transportation in country as indicated in the itinerary (to include one group transfer from Airport to Quito City on Day 1 and one group transfer Quito City to the airport on Day 14)
  • All group cooking and climbing equipment and tents
  • All meals in the mountains (all meals outside Quito)
  • Mules for the Condor Trek

Trip fee does not include the following: 

  • International airfare
  • Personal gear
  • Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
  • Excess baggage fees and departure taxes
  • Meals in Quito
  • Any other meals not included in the itinerary
  • Bottled water and personal drinks
  • Customary guide gratuities
  • Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
  • Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
  • Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)

* 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.

Express Version!

Pushed for time? Contact us to hear about our express versions that fit with YOUR timeframe!


Cotopaxi, Ecuador