Ecuador is full of rich cultural traditions and incredible wilderness landscapes providing a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Among those landscapes are majestic volcanoes like Cotopaxi, reaching an elevation of 19,347 ft and provides the opportunity to reach on of the highest point in Ecuador while enjoying the breathtaking views along the way. In preparation for Cotopaxi we not only get to experience the the culture in the city of Quito, but we experience it from 15,413ft as we will climb Rucu Pichincha which overlooks the vast capitol city of Ecuador.
We will also have the opportunity to explore the Amazon jungle from various different points of view. Whether by ziplining through the canopy, or canyoneering through the waterfalls with it's diverse wildlife surrounding us, you're sure to have an experience like no other. We'll take the time to learn about the tribes that have thrived there for millennia, from the natives themselves.
Along with the opportunity to climb these mountains and experience the physical and mental accomplishments associated therewith, those that remain for the full stay will find an additional personal growth that can only come from giving of yourself. In Ibarra we will experience the culture in an intimate environment as we work with a local prosthetics clinic and provide a new way of life and dignity for less fortunate individuals who for one reason or another can't afford a prosthesis. Of course with all of the rich culture surrounding us, we would be amiss if we didn't take the time to experience it with the locals.
Day 01: Arrive in Quito. Depart the U.S. today on an international flight to Quito, Ecuador. A 12 Finger representative will be there at the airport to welcome you and escort you to your hotel.
Day 02: Center of the Earth and Rucu Pichincha. After breakfast there will be a vehicle to take us to the Center of the Earth monument and shops you’ll get acquainted with our trip leaders and fellow adventurers along the way. At the Center of the Earth you will be able to stand in both hemispheres at once or balance an egg on a nail amongst other fascinating anomalies. We will have lunch on the drive to our acclimatization hike up Rucu Pichincha. The mountain called Rucu Pichincha. Is 4698m/15,413ft in elevation, but there is a teleferico (a sky tram), that is visible from most of Quito. This will take us up to around 3800m/12467ft where we will begin our hike. Total time spent on the mountain will be around 3-6 hours round trip. Upon returning to the hotel the rest of the evening will be yours.
Day 03: Cotopaxi. After breakfast at the hotel we will begin our drive to the foot of the volcano Cotopaxi. Here we will meet our local guide and drive up the mountain to a parking lot a few hundred meters below the refuge/base camp which is at an elevation of 4,810 m (15,760 ft). This day will be mostly restful in preparation for our big climb.
Day 04: Cotopaxi basecamp. After breakfast we will spend the day acclimatizing. From the refuge, we will have an hour-long hike up to some glaciers to practice safety/emergency procedures including crevasse rescues and self-arresting to name a couple. Then we will return to the refuge and rest for the night.
Day 05: The Summit. Wake up is around 11pm; we will eat a small breakfast and get ready for our climb. We will begin climbing around 1am. It should take us approximately 7 hours (weather conditions dependent) to summit; where we can enjoy amazingly beautiful views and celebrate our accomplishment. Then we will return to the refuge, have our real meal, and immediately pack up our equipment. Then we'll go back to the vehicle, and begin our drive south to Banos de Aguas Santos for the night. (We have built in a weather contingency day. We will be monitoring the weather on the mountain. If the weather for one of the days is predicted to be unfavorable, we may head up Cotopaxi on day 2 in the evening. Day 3 would play out the same as our current day 4. Day 4 would then be our summit day and we would stay that night in Quito after exploring the Center of the Earth and the night life in old Quito. Day 5 would be spent traveling to Banos. The rest of the itinerary would continue as planned.)
Day 06: After breakfast we will head out into the beautiful ravines near Banos cut from the rivers for some canyoneering where we will descend down multiple waterfalls and cliffs by way of hiking, rappelling, zip lining, natural sliding, and jumping, all while enjoying the breathtaking natural scenery of the forest and falls. Then we’ll head back to Banos to wind down and dry off.
Day 07: After breakfast we will load up in our vehicles and drive for about an hour to a nearby city called Puyo where we will visit a rescue center for animals. Following that, we will visit a magnificent waterfall, where we can swim and relax in the forest. After lunch, we will go on a paddle canoe ride for about 30 minutes on the Puyo river to a location with an exceptional view of the rainforest. Then we will continue our journey to a Quechua indigenous community where we’ll learn how they make jewelry. We can also practice our hunting skills by learning how to use a blowgun. After all of that, we will return to Baños.
Day 08: Humanitarian service and cultural experience. After breakfast, we’ll pack up and head north to Quito where we will part ways with those who don't wish to remain for the volunteer experience. After stopping by the airport, we will drive up north to Ibarra. 12 Finger Outdoor Adventure has partnered with nonprofit organizations called 2ft Prosthetics and Prosthetics Imbabura. 2ft Prosthetics helps restore dignity and self-reliance to amputees in developing countries through the production and distribution of a quality and affordable below-the-knee prosthesis. Inadequate employment for amputees in many countries can often be traced to discrimination against the disabled. The disabled are sometimes viewed as objects of charity or pity. Inadequate care for amputees results in an increase in homelessness and begging, an increase in the number of people requiring government assistance, and an increase in the number of children of these amputees who have to drop out of school in order to help support their family. We will be working with a local clinic whose mission is to provide Ecuadoran patients with quality and timely prosthetics, orthotics, and adaptive equipment. We will be providing some extra hands for the forming and fitting process of the prostheses to their newfound owners and sharing in their joy.
Day 09: Saying Goodbye. Sadly, our time in Ecuador must come to an end and this is the day we pack up, say our goodbyes, and make our way back to Quito to the airport. This is where we part our ways until our next adventure together.