Hiking in the mountains from a central base for two weeks, good or bad idea?

I do not want a tour or a daily guide. We like 2-10 mile hikes in the mountains from a "base" lodging. This year we hiked in the rockies and stayed in an apartment. Should I consider Ecuador or keep looking. The Cotacachi area looks to be a good base, note my Espanol is extremely limited. ideas, input, suggestions? we are in 50s and 60s and in decent shape.


Country: Ecuador


Dear Ken,

Thanks for your enquiry. Mountains in Ecuador highlands are in National Parks, so I don't think you can take long hikings without a guide. A place I can reccomend to go hiking is Banos is Tungurahua province (central highlands).

There are a lot of hotels and hostals in the highlands where you can stay. My favorite mountains in Ecuador are Chimborazo and Cotopaxi.

Please let me know if you need any extra information, it will be my pleasure to help you.

Saludos desde Ecuador,


It is not a bad idea but maybe 2 weeks long from a same starting spot might be to much. I will rather recomend you to spend about 5 days around Otavalo where lots of hotels are present and gives you walking oportunities sround the Imbabura vulcano, around the Cotacachi vulcano and to the lagunas of Mojanda! After this you can go down to the central part of the country where you can spend about 3 days to walk around Cotopaxi and Antisana vulcanos but those are in National parks and this will cost you 10$ per park. After that you can go to urbina (just before arriving in Riobamba) wich is the highest train station in Ecuador converted in a refuge. Here Rodrigo Donoso, president of the mountain climbing associasion of Ecuador and owner of the company Alta Montana can recomend you lots of place to walk around Chimborazo volcano and El Altar!...
Read this link from the Rough Guides:

Also further down to the south, in the area of Cuenca is passing the Inca trail and gives you walking oportunities for different days but always moving further, not comming back to the same overnight!

skype: galanetecuador
definitely! around otavalo there are some great day hikes surrounding the lakes , n they have cabins you can stay at too in otavalo, you could hike around the base of cotopaxi for amazing views, u could also spend a couple days hiking in cajas national park outside of cuenca which definitely u will enjoy too.
Hi! Well I got no experience in hiking in mountains, but I can contribute with you with this videos, so you can make some idea of the location, weather, maybe is not what you are looking for, but there you go: this guy made hiking from the top of andes to the jungle in Ecuador. Like our friend Salome told you before, you can try in Banos-Tungurahua, where you can make the same type of hiking from altitude to jungle. I also like Cotopaxi, but I don't really know if its safe for you, because just before you reach the 3800 mts altitude, you have a huge pine forest which is home to bears and pumas. A local told me that its better and safier to walk starting from 3800 mts altitude at Laguna Limpiopungo level, where you can watch savage horses, huge volcano rocks and walk around the volcano, and maybe walking to the first refugee at 4800 mts(from 4800mts to 5897mts you definitely need a guide and special climb equipment). You can lodge at Tambopaxi Refugee(its more like a rustic hotel) which is at the same altitude of Limpiopungo(3800 meters) here you can find bedrooms for 2 starting from $34. I hope my other compatriots will write you with more information.
Of course you should consider Ecuador for the perfect place to do it. I would recomend to go to the city of Baños.. It´s a good place to be used like a base, you can hire the bikes there and is very easy to find accomodation. Baños is located on the highlands, the entrance to the Amazonia. You have some routes from BAños to the Amazonia and to the high lands . You can go hiking from Baños to Puyo,a route of 60km. Puyo is a city in the Amazonia.... 50`s, 60`s ...still young... I´m sure you will enjoy it!!!!!
ecuador is definately spectacular for hiking. and it is also safe enough - if that was your question.
one thing - i just had my dad 58 visit and took him up pinchincha. he is in pretty good shape, but mind the altitude in the andes...!
Banos, cotopaxi and chimborazo are fantastic, but the latter two have routes between 10 and 15 thousand feet altitude!!
lower areas such as tena - towards the jungle - are beautiful as well...
ok, it depends what you consider as a central base. If you like further information please contact me through this e mail adress I can contact you with the adventure hiking company of the renowned photographer Jorge Anhalzer
Hi Ken
If you want to visit some Nationals park in Ecuador, maybe you have to go Machalilla National Park, now it is the whale season and you can see the humpback whales, from June to September, here is the coast of Ecuador, in the Tumbesina Region and can look diferents kinds of endemics birds, some archeology, and 3 different climates in 55000 Hc.
I am Natural guide of the Machalilla, and spanish teacher certifcate, I offer packages for each week with 20 hours of individual spanish lessons, excursions around the place with your spanish teacher, accomodation and breakfast in front to the beach.
Contact me
I know a place where can be possible. In Vilcabamba a beautiful town down the mountains. Vilcabamba is one hour from the city of Loja.
In Vilcabamba you can see a mountain that the people says that looks like a indian resting. So you can go there easy following the path and asking the people there. Don`t go if is raining.
I DONT BELIVE YOU CAN MAKE 2 WEAKS FROM ONE BASE, I AM 62, I AM LOCAL, AND I NOW HOW HEAVY IT IS, dont forget that we are at 13.000 feet and higer, and you need extra time to get use to altitud. AT MY PLACE YOU HAVE ROUTES TO DIFERENT PLACES, TAKE A LOOK AT
Hi, actually it's very difficul hiking without a guide, specially because it can be dangerous, sometimes the mountains are lier, your security is very important! So, if you want to come here you won't regret because Ecuador is very beatiful, our mountains are great!and the landscapes!
Base is recommended so could go back, take a shower and relax for next day, trails are not far form Latacunga, there you have many options (1 hour away from Quito, 20 min. from Ambato), these cities are surrounded by volcanoes.
From the postings thus far, it seems that a base is an OK idea, but it is not a good idea to come to Ecuador unless I want to hire a guide or do a tour. That is too bad, it seemed like a good idea, but I will take the advice and go somewhere that it is safe. Thanks for all the input.

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