Home > South America > Ecuador > Andes > Central Andes > Cotopaxi National Park
Page Rating
Content Quality:

Page Importance:
Author Pick:
Close Map

Book a Hotel or Hostel

Hotels Hostels & Budget


Check in Date

Check out Date

Number of Rooms

Top Ecuador

Cotopaxi National Park

An hour and a half south of Quito, along the Avenue of the Volcanoes, is the dominant image on the Ecuadorian national psyche: the perfectly conical Cotopaxi volcano (altitude 5,897 m / 19,350 ft), one of the world's highest active volcanoes and a mecca for mountain climbers. The volcano lies within Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, a 33,393-hectare (82,515-ac) national park created in 1975 to protect the fragile wet forest and páramo habitat of the endangered Andean condor and spectacled bear. It is the most popular of Ecuador’s reserves.

The national park has two types of mountain ecosystems: cloud forest, or montane forest, up to the timberline (3,600-3,000 m / 11,808-12,464 ft) and páramo (4,000-4,500 m / 13,120-14,760 ft). Andean blueberries, lupine, bromeliads, ugsha grass, mountain roses and other flora cover the landscape. Fauna species entail 17 mammals, including puma, white-tailed deer, weasel, an endemic marsupial mouse and wild horses; and almost 100 species of birds, including Andean gull, shrike-tyrants, brush finches and snipes. Cotopaxi last erupted in 1942. The volcano is monitored by Ecuador’s Instituto Geofísico (URL: Besides Cotopaxi, the park is also home to other mountains and volcanoes: Rumiñahui (with three peaks: 4,722 m / 15,488 ft, 4,631 m / 15,190 ft and 4,696 m / 15,403 ft), Morurco (4,849 / 15,905 ft) and Chiguilasin Chico (4,876 m / 15,993 ft). Just northeast of the park boundary is Sincholagua (4,873 m / 15,983 ft), which also can be summited. Volcán Cotopaxi’s glaciers feed the Guayllabamba, Cutuchi and Daule rivers, which flow to the Pacific Ocean, and the Río Napo, which flows towards the Amazon.

Parque Nacional Cotopaxi may be accessed at three entrances: the northern (called Pedregal), near Machachi; El Boliche, where the train arrives; and the main entrance (Caspi), six kilometers (3.6 mi) north of Lasso. The roads from the latter two meet and head to the southern ranger station. About five to six kilometers (3-3.6 mi) beyond the main station is Estación Mariscal Sucre, a complex that has a restaurant, lodging, a small museum displaying the park’s flora and fauna, and a self-guided hiking trail. The climber’s refuge is another 15 kilometers (9 mi) uphill.

The national park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including climbing Cotopaxi and other mountains, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Laguna Limpiopungo, which lays midways between the two ranger stations, just west of the turn-off for Volcán Cotopaxi, provides excellent birdwatching and vistas of the various volcanoes. Several pre-Columbian ruins scatter the park, the most impressive of which is the Inca fortress, El Salitre (Entry: $5).

If spending the night under Cotopaxi’s starry skies, you have a choice of lodging options: camping, refuges and a variety of inns, from hostels to haciendas.

The national park service of the Ministerio del Ambiente publishes a downloadable interpretive guide (in Spanish) about Parque Nacional Cotopaxi (URL: For more details about hiking and climbing in Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, check out Ecuador Climbing and Hiking Guide (in English).

No entry fee into the park is charged, although one must still pay for camping, refuges and other services. You may entire the park 365 days of the year, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Cell phone reception is difficult to nonexistent in this area.


Other places nearby Cotopaxi National Park: Riobamba, Latacunga, Río Verde, Baños, Ambato, Tigua, Saquisilí, Alausí, Quilotoa and Chillanes.

13 Dec 2013

Top Places to Stay in Cotopaxi National Park

HosterĂ­a Papagayo

Papagayo is a beautiful hosterĂ­a that presents a variety of rooms with superb views of the volcanoes, as well as a cabin. Its relaxing atmosphere makes it the perfect place to acclimatize before or ...
Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador

Tambopaxi - x

Set just inside the bleak, beautiful wilderness that is the Cotopaxi National Park, Tambopaxi is an acclimatization center that advertises itself as "the best place to stay and climb ...
Restaurant, Hotel

San Agustin de Callo - x

A little more than an hour from Quito stands the beautiful and little-known colonial Hacienda of San AgustĂ­n de Callo. Built on a site that has served multiple functions throughout ...
View Cotopaxi National Park Map

South America | Central America and Mexico | Antarctica |
Advertise | Anúnciese | Jobs | Alliances | Alianzas | Terms of Use | Contact Us | About Us | Blog | Administradores |
You must register as an owner for access to these listing tools and benefits.

Notification of new reviews: receive your latest reviews by e-mail

Customized request-a-review link: encourage guests to spread the word about your property

Our owners' newsletter: stay informed about our latest tools and benefits for you

User login

Enter your username and password here in order to log into the website:


Create a new V!VA account

Forgot Password