11 Adventurous Things To Do In Cotopaxi National Park


The Cotopaxi National Park is home to the volcano that bears the same name, one of the most active and recognized volcanoes on the Avenida de los Volcanes and all of Ecuador. In fact, the Cotopaxi Volcano was the first park in Ecuador’s continental territory to be declared a national park. The Cotopaxi volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, so seeing or climbing it can be one of the most enriching experiences you can have when visiting Ecuador. The volcano has an altitude of 5,897 meters above sea level.

The National Park is located on the outskirts of Quito, an hour and a half away by car; within the province of Cotopaxi in the Central Cordillera of the Andes. Its last eruption was in August 2015, without causing major damage. Without a doubt, visiting the Cotopaxi volcano is a must do activity when exploring Ecuador.

What is the climate in the Cotopaxi National Park?

The average temperature ranges from 9° C to 11° C, while the lowest temperatures range from below 0° C and the highest up to 22°C, so we recommend wearing warm clothing. Due to the altitude, a high UV index wreaks greater havoc on the skin, so wearing sunscreen is key during your visit to the park.

What is the best time of year to visit Cotopaxi National Park?

The best time to visit the Cotopaxi volcano is during the months of November, December to January. Although in summer the volcano can be found clear from the slopes (July to October), and have a greater probability of capturing the best photographs.

How big is the Cotopaxi Volcano Crater?

The width of the Cotopaxi volcano crater from east to west is 500 m and from north to south 700 m.

What should I pack to go to Cotopaxi National Park?

  • Multiple layers of clothing
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Coat
  • Comfortable closed shoes (hiking)
  • Cap
  • Sunscreen
  • Glasses
  • Photographic camera
  • Poncho
  • Ear cap
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Warm stockings
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • If you plan to go to the José Rivas refuge, we recommend that you bring walking poles and more layers.

How much does it cost to visit the Cotopaxi volcano?

The entrance to the Cotopaxi National Park is free although you must register when entering. The national park is open from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM to enter, but you can stay until 5:00 PM. Parking before reaching the first shelter is free. When arriving at the park, check in for the most up to date rules to avoid any inconvenience.

Can you camp in the Cotopaxi National Park?

You can camp near the Limpiopungo lagoon, which has bathrooms. They do not rent tents, so if you plan to camp you will have to bring your own tent and sleeping bag. Remember that it is cold during the day and even more so at night, so bring a sleeping bag that can withstand low temperatures, in addition to carrying a waterproof tent resistant to strong winds.

Campfires are prohibited in Cotopaxi National Park, so if you need to cook your food, we suggest you bring your own stove and camping gas. You can buy your camping equipment at Campers Store. It is also possible to camp in other reserved areas such as La Rinconada and Condorhuayco. Remember to take all the garbage to what you finish your visit to the national park.

How to get to the Cotopaxi Volcano?

Public transport buses do not enter the National Park, they leave you one hour from the entrance of the volcano. It is best to rent a car or take a private tour.

  • From Machachi: You can get to the national park through the Barrio Santa Ana de El Pedregal. You will go through several farms for 15km. Through here you can visit the Limpiopungo lagoon and part of the Rumiñahui.
  • From Latacunga or Quito to Caspi Control: Take the Pan-American Highway from Quito for two hours and from Latacunga one hour. If you go by bus, take the bus from the Quitumbe land terminal, south of Quito to Riobamba, Ambato or Latacunga. Tell the driver that you want to get off at the entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park.

The 11 best things you can do inside the Cotopaxi National Park

1. Limpiopungo Lagoon

The Limpiopungo lagoon offers one of the best landscapes in Cotopaxi, when the volcano is clear of clouds. It is ideal for walking around and enjoying the flora and fauna of the Andean mountain rage. This is a perfect area to take pictures. The lagoon is located on the slopes of the inactive Rumiñahui volcano.

To get to the Limpiopungo Lagoon you must enter through the Caspi control and continue for 19 KM. The best thing to do is go in your own car, but if you don’t have transportation, there are several vans that can take you for less than $20 USD per person.


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