Going the distance: Cotopaxi National Park on a budget

After Galapagos Islands & the Amazon, Cotopaxi National Park is top of the list for anyone considering visiting Ecuador. Arguably one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. It’s no wonder thousands make it a stop while visiting Ecuador. Breathing taking views & easy access makes this a must-do. So if booking a tour with an agency isn’t an option. Do this independently, here is how you can do it.


1. Get up early at 6 am. If you are staying in the Historical Centre or in La Mariscal, jump on the Trole line for .35 cents and get the C4 to Terminal Quitumbe.

2. Take a bus heading towards Latacunga approx. $2. Let the driver know you want to get off at the “Entrada de Cotopaxi” which should be roughly 1.5 hours. The bus should stop just a few meters prior to the bridge which wraps around for the main road into the National Park. Which is still another 20-minute drive.

3. Walk up the ramp over the bridge and you will see pick-up trucks that are waiting for people that want to go into the National Park. Normally expect to pay around $25 per person with a group of 2 or more. One person $50 US. This would include entry into the park and a licensed Spanish-speaking guide. We recommend contacting Licensed Guide Rigoberto, who owns a pick-up truck for up to 4 people +593 98 314 7152 he also has WhatsApp, limited English but friendly, knowledgeable, and lives really close to the bridge. Mention Paul from CarpeDM sent you and he will only charge $40 for 1 person and $22.50 for 2 or more.

4. A licensed guide is required to enter the park which you could hire at the entrance of the Reserve for about $25 – $30 US. That would be for those who have their own vehicles.

5. Bring sunscreen, water, warm clothes, good hiking shoes, hiking poles are a plus, also pack a lunch or you can buy some food in the basecamp as well.

Visit the National Park during the week as recently due to Covid restrictions being lifted, the weekends tend to be more like a fast-food drive-through than a Majestic Cotopaxi Volcano surrounded by the serene oasis of paramo.


For those who prefer an organized tour from Quito, be sure to visit our page:

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