The Cotopaxi mountain, which rises majestically above the Andean mountains to stand at 5,897 meters above sea level, is Ecuador's highest active volcano—as well as being one of the most active volcanoes anywhere in Ecuador. With an almost perfectly symmetrical cone shape its identifiable sign, Cotopaxi mountain is also a picture book image of Ecuador.
Whilst the Cotopaxi is on record as being one of the most active in Ecuador, aside from a brief rumble in 1975, the last recorded eruption occurred in 1904. Consequently, Cotopaxi mountain is probably more famous these days as being a mountain climbers dream. Rising from 3800 meters, with a glacier starting at 5000 meters, Cotopaxi mountain is well acknowledge as being one of the best experiences of climbing in Ecuador. However, provided that you are reasonably fit, the assent to the peak of Cotopaxi mountain is not seen as being too onerous.
Once you have climb to the peak of Cotopaxi, the summit has a crater some 600 meters by 800 meters in diameter, which has a sulphur stream flowing from it. As such, those who reach the summit of Cotopaxi also consider this to be one of the best Ecuador hiking experiences available.
For those who can manage it, and weather permitting, a climb of Cotopaxi mountain takes approximately 6 -7 hours; but the view from the top will certainly make this journey well worth your time. Also, in order to maximize the view, climbs to the peak of Cotopaxi mountain usually set off around midnight - with the aim to reach the peak at around dawn, or slightly after dawn.
As part of the Cotopaxi National Park, however, as well as fulfilling one of the highlight experiences available from climbing in Ecuador, visitors to this part of Ecuador can enjoy hiking around the park, visiting the natural museum, and seeing the flora, fauna and snow-capped mountains. This trek, which should also include a walk to Jose-Rivas-Refuge, is also considered to be one of the finest Ecuador hiking experiences available.
Aside from Cotopaxi, other climbing in Ecuador can be done at Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak, and Cayambe, the third highest peak in Ecuador. Finally, Ecuador's fourth highest peak, Antisana, is considered by many to be one of the most challenging experiences climbing in Ecuador has to offer - but also with one of the most scenic peaks in Ecuador.
And for those of you who are really interested in the ultimate experience of climbing in Ecuador, you may like to know that Chimborazo is regarded by those who measure the height of mountains from the earth's core, rather than from sea-level, as being the highest mountain peak in the world!