Has the idea of conquering the summit of the majestic volcano Cotopaxi crossed your mind? Have you started researching into this epic adventure?
Then, get ready because I’m going to give you some tips about how and when to visit Cotopaxi.
Just 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Quito lies one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the Americas: Cotopaxi, with its picture-perfect cone and permanent mantle of snow, whose name in the native language means “Neck of the Moon.”
At 5,897 meters (19,347 ft), this is Ecuador’s second tallest peak after Chimborazo, and one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.
Best months to visit Cotopaxi
If you are wondering about when to visit Cotopaxi, there are two things to consider: weather and tourist activity.
In terms of weather, you should know that from March to May rains are common in the Cotopaxi National park, followed by more rain and snow from September to November. Rain means less chance of observing the volcano at it best, so it’s best to avoid visiting during these months, especially if you are one of the brave adventurers who is planning on climbing to the summit.
The busiest months to visit the National Park are from January to May. Most of the tourists only hike as far as the José Rivas refuge at 4,864 m (15,958 ft) to enjoy the views of the páramo and the volcano. This leads to higher prices for accommodation during those months.
The period from June to November is considered the quiet season for tourists, so this is the best time to take advantage of the lower accommodation prices at the National Park. Keep in mind, however, that from September to November the weather may be wet.
So when to visit Cotopaxi? In conclusion, June is the best month to visit the Cotopaxi National Park and conquer this colossal volcano!
Best time in the day to visit Cotopaxi
Ecuadorian weather changes so quickly that it is not possible to predict whether you will see Cotopaxi, which is sometimes hidden behind clouds – not fair, especially after walking a couple of hours while feeling the burn from lack of oxygen in your poor lungs, right? But don’t despair, the clouds are likely to suddenly disappear, revealing the magnificent face of the volcano; a sight that will leave you open-mouthed!
So when to visit Cotopaxi to get the best chance of clear skies? The ideal time of the day is from sunrise to midday, as the afternoons tend to be cloudier and rainier.
One piece of advice to get the most from your trip to Cotopaxi National Park: spend the previous night in one of the nearby haciendas and get up early in the morning to witness the spectacular view of the sunrise over the volcano.
No doubt this will be a breathtaking experience! Literally!
How about staying there?
The accommodation in the National Park itself tends to be on the expensive side. But if you are traveling on a budget, there are some options in the neighboring villages that are kinder to your pocket.
The following are the best-rated haciendas near the Cotopaxi National Park that also offer a good restaurant service.
HACIENDA SAN AGUSTIN DE CALLO: This luxurious place is a mix of imperial Inca and Spanish colonial styles. The room price includes 3 meals and entrance to the jacuzzi.
HACIENDA LOS MORTIÑOS: This cozy place is for sure the winner in terms of panoramic views! The room price includes breakfast. It also offers a camping area for a reasonable price.
HACIENDA LA CIÉNEGA: This antique place has a reputation as a “haunted house”! It’s a comfortable spot where you can enjoy historical tales and legends about the area and the people who have inhabited this hacienda over the last 400 years.
HACIENDA EL PORVENIR: This hacienda provides accommodation and “all-inclusive” packages with activities such as trekking, cooking classes, self-guided trails & horse-riding.
CHILCABAMBA HOSTAL: This beautiful hotel is located 6 km (3.7 miles) from the National Park. It has a small number of rooms and personalized service. The meals are prepared with local products as a way to support neighboring communities.
CUELLO DE LUNA: This charming place is the least expensive on the list and the only one with dorm rooms. It’s located in Lasso, just at the entrance of the National Park. Pets are allowed.
Are these options outside your budget? Click here to check out some of our favorite economical accommodation options for your visit to Cotopaxi.
What to do next
Is your reckless soul still craving more adventure?
I would recommend Quilotoa as your next stop! This beautiful lagoon inside a volcanic crater is located only 3 hours southwest of Cotopaxi. You won’t be disappointed by the landscapes, I promise! If you stay for a couple of nights you may be lucky enough to observe the Milky Way reflected in the surface of the lagoon.
But if you plan to head north, then Quito is waiting for you!
The Ecuadorian capital has almost too much to offer, from experiencing the cosmopolitan life in a South American metropolis full of cultural events, to visiting the Old Town with its astonishing architecture and traditions. Or how about standing with a foot in each hemisphere at the Middle of the World? For more information about where to go in Quito, just download our free guide and discover what the city has in store for you!
Once you have decided when to visit Cotopaxi, Wanderbus has plenty of options for you to choose your perfect itinerary. Whether you prefer to travel only through the highlands, or to include the highlights of the Coast or the Amazon jungle, just check out the following passes and see which one takes your fancy:
WANDER PASS: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Ozogoche, Cuenca, El Cajas, Guayaquil, Montañita, Puerto López.
WANDER PASS EXPRESS: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Misahuallí, Papallacta.
WANDER + AMAZONA PASS: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Ozogoche, Misahuallí, Cuenca, El Cajas, Guayaquil, Montañita, Puerto López.
CONDOR PASS: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Ozogoche, Cuenca, El Cajas, Guayaquil, Montañita.
PALOMA PASS: Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Riobamba.
MOTMOT PASS: Montañita, Puerto López, Quito, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños.