ECUADOR | ANDES

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VAGABOND TRAILS

JANUARY 19th - 27th 2019

This trip is inspired by the highlands of the central and north Andes. You will experience volcanos, crater lakes, high mountains and pristine rivers, Ecuadorian food, culture and hospitality while you run and hike, on amazing trails with breath-taking views. This is an opportunity to feel inspired, to run, to travel, to enjoy, and to discover the beauty and warmth of Ecuador. The trip is also a great opportunity to learn, to develop your skills and to improve your running with some high-altitude training.

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WHY ECUADOR? Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in the Americas, however one of the most biodiverse in the world. It boasts over 50 ecosystems, from the Galapagos to tropical rainforests to forested valleys to the Andean mountains. It is a small country, where you can see and do it all! Many places in Ecuador have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will be amazed by the diverse regions, each of them with special weather, flora, fauna and food culture. All this together makes of Ecuador a hidden jewel and it is not surprising that Ecuador has several consecutive World Travel Awards. This journey is created by runners for runners. We have chosen exciting trails, which include beautiful landscapes, good elevation and technical terrain to challenge runners of all abilities. We have selected good and exciting accommodation in small unique haciendas and eco-lodges. The entire trip has been planned and organised so that you can relax and just enjoy!

WHO CAN JOIN? Anyone with some experience in trail running and hilly terrain can join. Pace is unimportant on our adventures, but for several days we will be out for 3 to 6 hours and switch between running, hiking and other activities. Most of the routes have been selected to give the runners the possibility to enjoy at their own pace, accompanied by a leader. The runs/hikes are at altitude and it will be challenging - the more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have and the further you’ll be able to go. If for any reason you do not feel like running, there will always be alternatives to enjoy your day. For most of the runs, there will be a support vehicle with us in the case you need it. Also, if the kilometres and the altitude are not enough for you, there will be opportunity to extend your runs.

ADVENTURE DETAILS:

DATE: January 19th - 27th 2019

PRICE: 

  • Early price US$2395
  • Price after Sept 1st 2018 increases to $2595
  • Payment in full by November 1st 2018. Registrations after that date must be paid in full
  • US$500 non refundable deposit required to secure place, deposit can be transferred to another adventure
  • 100% refund if trip is cancelled

PARTICIPANTS: 8 – 12

THE PRICE INCLUDES:

  • Everything described in the tour
  • All of the scheduled activities: horseback riding, guides, yoga
  • All accommodation during the tour (7 nights)
  • Most lodges and haciendas in shared rooms (single occupancy room option available for an extra price in some lodges)
  • All meals during the tour (7 breakfast, 4 packed lunch, 2 lunch, 7 dinners)
  • All transport during the tour (except for those by feet!)
  • Tips! We pay our people well

THE PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Transport to Quito (e.g. flights)
  • Insurance. All participants are required to have their own insurance appropriate for high altitude, outdoor sports, health, accident, repatriation, cancellation, personal liability, etc
  • Trail snacks - we recommend that you bring dried fruit, nuts or energy bars to last you throughout the entire runs (further info in the packing list)
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Expenses for extra activities, such as; massages, spas, sauna, hot tub
  • Any accommodations for extra days in Ecuador

A note about fitness: This adventure involves physical activity around 5 hours per day, some days has over 1000m of ascent, at altitude up to 4,600 meters above sea level. To participate comfortably in the tour, you will require a certain level of fitness. To make a self-assessment whether or not this is for you, you should consider yourself to be in good fitness, be accustomed to running/hiking, and be able to do it comfortably for at least 3 hours in a day. If you have any more questions about that we are happy to discuss your training/preparation with you. Please consult a doctor if you feel that this might be a challenge before booking.

ADVENTURE ITINERARY:

Day 1 | Saturday 19th | Quito – Tumbaco

  • Arrival and acclimatisation day (Quito is at 2800 meters, 9186 feet)
  • Organised airport pick-up and hotel check-in throughout the day
  • Welcome dinner

Day 2 | Sunday 20th | Quito – Sigchos – Isinlivi

  • Morning departure to the town of Sigchos (2h30), which will mark the start of a three–day running journey to “El Quilotoa”. The trail goes through the Andean mountains, valleys, epic landscapes, towns, over rivers and past genuine Quechua communities to ultimately end up at an epic sapphire-blue crater lake after three days! The trail starts at the town of Sigchos where we will be dropped by our support vehicle, which will continue with your bags to Isinlivi. After a light snack, we will make the same journey, except by smaller trails. It is a perfect route to acclimatise ourselves for the highs of the Andes, giving us the opportunity to get use to the altitude
  • The route: 10 Km, 450+ 430-m
  • Highest point: 2900 meters/9514 feet
  • Afternoon chill time with beautiful landscapes (needed for acclimatisation!) The cosy eco-lodge we have chosen for this night offers breath-taking views, delicious locally sourced food, a warm stove and a great spa (at a small additional fee).

Day 3 | Monday 21st | Isinlivi – Chugchilán 

  • The day’s run is from Isinlivi to the town of Chugchilán. From Isinlivi the trail follows the Toachi canyon, offering amazing landscapes along the river, then climbs up to the plateaus and passing through small highland villages before arriving to Chugchilán
  • The route: 12 Km, 740+ 480-m
  • Highest point: 3220 meters/10,564 feet
  • Afternoon relax – sauna and hot tub, zip lines and yoga
  • Want more kilometres? The option is always available
  • The eco–lodge is located just outside of the small village of Chugchilán at an altitude over 3200 meters. It is a beautiful and cozy place, with views of the Rio Toachi Canyon, fantastic food and spectacular mountain views.

Day 4 | Tuesday 22nd | Chugchilán – Quilotoa Crater – Area of Parque Nacional Cotopaxi 

  • The day’s run is at points steep, wild and at high altitude. It is the day to test what you’re made of! Following a wholesome breakfast at the eco-lodge, we will descent down the valley below us to cross a river before we can begin our climb up to 3900 meters, and the goal of this first adventure: El Quilotoa Lagoon. As we have had previous acclimatisation this should not be a problem but be prepared to work for the reward - just imagine an azure-coloured crater lake surrounded by steep shadowy mountains and (most likely) deep blue skies overhead – this is Lake Quilotoa. The landscape along the route and the views from the crater rim, will make everything worth it! Following our arrival to the crater, we will jump into our support vehicle and drive over to El Cotopaxi National Park, which is centered around one of the world’s highest active volcanos. We will arrive in the afternoon and head out exploring and get some time in for relaxing – the national park is considered one of the most beautiful places of Ecuador!
  • The route: 11 Km, 1000+ 350-m
  • Highest point: 3900 meters/12,795 feet
  • Transfer to “El Cotopaxi” (2h30)
  • Afternoon relax or optional walk

Day 5 | Wednesday 23rd | Cotopaxi Area  

  • Enjoy some early coffee with a fantastic view of El Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest volcanoes (5897 meters). Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by mud flows around the volcano, making the surroundings of El Cotopaxi, just amazing. A variety of wild animals live in the park such as wolves, pumas, bears, rabbits, Andean condors, horses, and foxes. This day will be one to rest our legs, before we summit “El Rumiñahui” (see day 6). This day you can choose to enjoy the surroundings of the lodge, read a book or maybe practice some yoga. In this day we have the option of just rest and relax, horseback riding or the alternative of to climb up to the Jose F. Rivas refuge, which is the most popular and frequented refuge in Ecuador. The refuge is located on the northern flanks of Volcán Cotopaxi at 4800 m (15,744 ft). We start this hike from the parking lot at 4654 meters (This is a short hike of 1.72 Km but could be strenuous, taking into consideration that next day we are summiting El Rumiñahui). 
  • Rest Day
  • Alternative: run to refuge 1.72 Km, 240+ 240-m
  • Alternative: horseback ride
  • Highest point: 4880 meters/16,000 feet

Day 6 | Thursday 24th | Cotopaxi – Rumiñahui Volcano – Otavalo

  • After having spent some days at altitude, we are ready to run/hike el Rumiñahui. This, is an extinct volcano named after the loyal general of the last Inca Emperor, Atahualpa. After the Spaniards murdered the Emperor, Rumiñahui hid the famous treasure of gold that was to be paid for Atahualpa's freedom, and led the fight against the Spanish conquerors. In the local language Quichua, the name means "stone face". We start the hike from Limpiopungo lake located at 3900 meters. Technically, it is a hike with some easy scrambling at the end. The mountain offers epic views of El Corazón, Los Ilinizas, Sincholagua, and Cotopaxi. After the hike, we will have a well-deserved lunch and continue our journey to The Northern Andes, to a beautiful cosy hacienda in the Imbabura Province, which is one of the most visited places in Ecuador. The province, its home to the inactive volcano El Imbabura and beautiful stunning lakes. The area offers beautiful landscapes, a huge cultural heritage and its fertile green lands.
  • The route: climb to el Rumiñahui 11 Km, 770+ 750-m
  • Highest point: 4620 meters/15,157 feet
  • Transfer to Otavalo (3h15)

Day 7 | Friday 25th | Laguna Cuicocha  

  • We will start our day driving to Laguna Cuicocha (40 min) - which is translated as the guinea pig lake. This is a large caldera lake nearly 3 kilometers wide. The lagoon is part of the CotacachiCayapas Ecological Reserve. This is one of the most beautiful trail running routes in Ecuador. An undulating easy-route at high altitude, with majestic views of different volcanos such as Cayambe, Imbabura and Cotacachi, sapphire-blue waters and vivid flora. In the afternoon we visit “Plaza de los Ponchos” in Otavalo. This Andean valley is home to the Kichwa indigenous ethnic group of the Otavalos, famous for their textile and commercial skills, characteristics that have given rise to the largest indigenous artisan market in South America.
  • The route: 12-15 Km, 580+ 580 -m
  • Highest point: 3485 meters/11,433 feet
  • Afternoon (Otavalo market, possibility for yoga, hot tub)

Day 8 | Saturday 26th | Otavalo – Fuya Fuya - Quito

  • After breakfast, we get ready to hike up Fuya Fuya (4270 meters), which is a short but steep climb in páramo terrain. On a clear day, the hike affords the most beautiful views of the Mojanda lagoon, the paramo and the surrounding countryside. After enjoying a picnic lunch, we go back to Quito to finish our tour.
  • The route: 5.3 Km, 500+ 500-m
  • Highest point: 4275 meters/14,000 feet
  • Transfer to Quito (2h00). Approximate 4-5pm.

Day 9 | Sunday 27th | Quito - Departure day

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • For this trip it is recommended to arrive in Quito at least one day before. Take into consideration that you will be in the Andes at high altitude 
  • The entire tour is done in English
  • We reserve the right to change the itinerary due to weather conditions, National Parks regulations or notifications and unforeseeable circumstances
  • This tour is governed by the Terms and Conditions of Vagabond Trails