adventures in Cotopaxi Ecuador

My Lungs Are Screaming! Epic Volcano Hiking

Stunning is one of many words I could use to describe the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. It seems with every bend of the road we find ourselves in awe. Maybe we’re so impressed because we had zero expectations going into this road trip. Or, maybe it really is this spectacular.

So far, our experiences have been with the people and the cities. We’ve roamed around small towns, seen captivating cathedrals, stood in front of larger than life art installations. We wandered the streets of the capital city and even faced off with the locals for Carnival (not for the faint of heart).

Now we’re going to the next level…at least in elevation. Prepare your lungs and lace up your hiking boots, because we’re taking on volcanoes, craters and glaciers. This is an adventure chock full of natures eye candy.

If that wasn’t me in the video, I wouldn’t believe the turquoise water was real, much less that we managed to hike all those miles at that altitude. Zero to 12,000+ feet had us feeling a little like fish out of water; dried out and gasping for air. Luckily, we had plenty of visual distractions to keep us focused.

Kate mentioned struggling with altitude and passing out.  She did indeed.  We didn’t film that moment for two reasons.

  1. We were focused on taking care of Kate and making sure she was OK.  Kate was correct when she said we had more practice.  We spent years trekking around Alaska, the Yukon, Canadian Rockies, Colorado Rockies, Californian Sierras and the list goes on.  We’re very familiar with altitude and know our bodies limits.
  2. Kate is a strong Afrikaans woman who was so determined to finish the loop around Quilotoa, she pushed herself a little too hard towards the end.  She was just short of a sprint.  Her mind was set but her body protested and forced a break.  Frustration can run high in those moments.  No way we were going to top that off with a camera in her face.  We sat there for a while sipping on water and swapping stories about close calls on adventures.  After a bit she dusted herself off and was good to go.  All smiles and high spirited Katie once again.

quilotoa lake hike

The whole Cotopaxi region is rugged, extreme and dramatically beautiful. We struggled to pack our things and move along so quickly (partly because our bodies we’re aching). It’s days and experiences like these that remind us that we live on the most amazing planet.

We wholeheartedly recommend a trip through the Andes Mountains and specifically to Quilotoa and Cotopaxi. So, here are a few thoughts from our adventure that may help plan your adventure.


The rim hike was fun but if we would have had the time (and no furry paws in tow) we would have done the Quilotoa loop. It’s a self-guided multi-day hike that either starts or ends at the Quilotoa lake and takes you through the indigenous villages.
Best part is, you don’t have to carry a giant backpack or even a tent, because each night is spent at a different hostel. We didn’t go on this adventure so I won’t dive into the details but would encourage you to research it. There are lots of great blogs that come up on “Hiking the Quilotoa Loop”.  That said, if you’re like us and only have a day, then the rim trail is a stellar hike.  If you’re flexible on dates try and head this way on a Saturday, that’s how we stumbled upon the hyper local, and cultural wonder that is the Zumbahua market (featured in this video).

epic hiking in Ecuador

quilotoa lake hike

adventures in Ecuador

epic hiking in ecuador

Ecuador road trip Andes Mountains

quilotoa lake ecuador

hiking ecuador quilotoa lake

Cotopaxi National Park

If you’re part mountain goat like Jason, the trip to the top of Cotopaxi sounds epic and can be done in a (long) day from the refuge. One of the many adventures we will absolutely take on when we make our way back. It is required to hire a guide and you’ll need a day (or more) at the refuge to acclimate to the altitude.  Or even better, go and hike Quilotoa and climb the Illiniza Volcanoes as a “warm up”…or at least that is Jason’s plan.

Road Tripping Ecuador

Epic Volcano Hikinag In Ecuador!!!

Cotopaxi Andes Mountains

Where We Stayed

We choose our little hostel because it seemed to be a good middle ground for the Cotopaxi area but had us spending more time in the car than needed. In hindsight, we would have stayed in Quilotoa and then at the Refuge on Cotopaxi (but I’m not sure they’re pet friendly).  The Rondador Hostel was all about the pets, just ask our neighbor.

Ecuador road trip Andes Mountains

Thank you for being a part of the journey!

Producing these videos, sharing our lives and what we learn along the way is possible because of viewers like you. A huge shout out to our Patreons for making this video possible! If you enjoyed this video, check out our Say Thanks page. It lists out some of the ways you can help keep these videos flowing. Best part is, most won’t cost you a penny but they make a BIG difference to us. Thank You!

Sailing Road Trip Report – Quilotoa & Cotopaxi

To see our full map with interactive pins, click here:

adventure travel map

  • Dates – February 17 – 18, 2018
  • Road Miles Traveled – 80
  • Rental Car – $29 per day.  We rented a car in Manta because it was half the price of renting in Bahia (where our boat is anchored).

Curious About Our Camera Gear? 

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (23)

  • Sally

    Nikki – where can I get your pink scarf? Love your videos!!

  • Amazing hike in a very beautiful place. Love your adventures ! Loved seeing the kitties too. Congrats Kate !!! for forging ahead and completing the hike !

  • Scott

    Curious about what is the highest altitude the cats experienced? Any sign of them feeling it?

  • Christine

    I adore your blog and videos, but for the first time am well…upset. The very first time, your friend and fellow human being, expressed distress should have resulted in your either descent or backtrack. People literally die from PEs or DVTs in high altitude. It would never be worth it.

  • Brian

    Chalk it up to another GREAT adventure from you guys. The shots from the motel reminded me of looking at some of the mountains in Oregon. Beautiful Country, I had no idea it was so beautiful there. As always, thanks for sharing.

  • Richard Michael Skaff

    What a wonderful video of you guys! Quite professional videography. Thanks for your videos. Although I was in Quito a number of years ago and went into the Andes on a day trip to a local village, you’ve really pushed it for me. Since I use a wheelchair for mobility, I wouldn’t be able to do the mountain hiking you did in the video, so I’m really enjoying the opportunity to see what you were able to see.


  • marc montero

    Ah Jason…you and your sister wives. What am I doing wrong? lol
    Seriously great video! Keep up the great work. Y’all are killin’ it!

  • George Moskowitz

    Thank you so much for taking us along on your wonderful adventures. It is a joy to see these sights through your eyes and experience the grandeur of planet earth.

  • Andi O’Neill

    I always watch your videos and have followed you guys for years and have never left a comment. Till now. That was freaking epic! 13,000 feet is no joke and you three did a great job. We enjoy Katie’s company as much as you do! Very cool that the cats got to go too. Thanks so much for all the enlightenment and entertainment.

  • Michael Magill

    What an amazing adventure to be sure …So glad that Kate is ok, wouldn’t ber thje same with out her being there. You guys rock with your videos so glad thati found you two and have been watching all your adventures for the last year or so…Continue on and stay safe!

  • Alan Solomon

    Awesome video. Incredible hike. I was feeling the altitude along with you 3. Incredible Animals, Wildlife, Water and Wild Nature. All my favorite. That lake was so gorgeous. That whole thing was frickin gorgeous. A world away from where I live and my community. Win win for all. Now I have to go there and experience it for myself. Great travel ideas. Your accommodations were small and quaint but, you had everything. Great recommendations all around. Did I say Thank you. You 3 deserve a thank you. ???

  • Michael

    Please stop putting the Google bar at the top of you video pages. What a waste of space. Thanks.

  • Nancy Fernandez

    Gorgeous and wow it’s been 4 months already. I can’t imagine all the things you’ve seen and done, including the passage, since Equador. Thanks for sharing.

  • Patrick Burneson

    OMG what a hike. The area is beautiful. I was totally wore out after that hike. Thank You for sharing and do you have any plans to hit the road again?

  • Roger B

    I’m still trying to catch my breath after watching your video. Scares me to watch you guys trek those narrow trails and approach the edge of those narrow mountain peaks.

  • T C Spencer

    How can Jason drive a car with an expired Texas driver’s license?

  • Pat parker

    That was amazing you three. Good job Katie your endurance was appreciated…lol. Super video again and it was super to hike with you.

  • Suzy Biertempfel

    That water! Glad Kate is OK.

  • Beth

    I live in the Wind River range of the Rocky Mountains, I’m always amazed at how different all the mountains of our world are and how beautiful they are! But I have to say mine are my favorite, because they are home. ?

  • Bernard Schaer

    How cool guys!! When I hitchhiked South America in 1980 (US-Peru and back), we hiked up Chimborazo just outside Riobamba and from there took a bus ride in one of the local buses to Baños. Girlfriend and backpacks with other hitchhikers on the roof, while I was buckled with my belt to the back ladder of the bus. Epic adventure! Lots of pictures!

  • Ed

    Great video great hotel great hike enjoyed all your hard work to share this with us ??


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