Morurco Peak

Cotopaxi south face and Morurco Peak
Elevation Table
Highest Summit:4881m


The Morurco is a rocky peak at the southern face of the Cotopaxi volcano. The peak was left after many eruptions of an ancient volcano near the actual Cotopaxi cone. The Morurco peak was formerly called “Cabeza del Inca” (The Inca Face), according to Humboldt, an appellation of uncertain origin, and founded on a popular tradition that claims this rock was once part of the Cotopaxi. This entire area belongs to the Cotopaxi National Park and has a great beauty, showing everywhere the evident results of intense volcanic activity, with volcanic sand slopes, ancient glacial valleys and the black Morurco rocks showing very inclined and tempting, sometimes covered with snow and ice. Just at 200 meters north of the Morurco, the Cotopaxi south face glaciers rise imposingly, offering on clear days one of the best possible views of this Andean volcano. This was preciselly the route followed by its first conqueror, Wilhelm Reiss, in 1872, just after a powerful eruption he ascended the Cotopaxi south face, accompanied by his butler Angel Escobar and his dog, until reaching the southern section of the Cotopaxi crater, mostly walking on sand and rock drifts.

National Park: Parque Nacional Cotopaxi


Morurco south face
Morurco south face
Glacier valleys
Glacier valleys
Cotopaxi south face
Cotopaxi south face

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Eastern Cordillera; 64 kilometers in a straight line southeast of Quito; 17 km from the Panamerican Hw at Lasso; 33 km from Latacunga. There is only one route to approach the Morurco Peak:

1) “Cotopaxi Cara Sur” Approach: Taking the Pan-American Hw southwards from Quito, you pass Machachi and continue to Latacunga. A reference point is the paved detour to the Cotopaxi National Park Caspi Control, from there go on following the Pan-American for another 4.6km and take the deviation to the right to leave the highway. Cross the two roundabouts and head to the south on the “old Pan-American Highway” for 1 additional kilometer. Then it is necessary to take the road to the left (east), just in front of “Aglomerados Cotopaxi”, It is more or less straight in the direction to the Ticatilin commune, and from there a single road continues to the “Cotopaxi Cara Sur” Refuge. This road is appropriate for 4×4 vehicles. Actually, the communities have closed this road with a metal gate. You must talk to one of the community members: Rafael Endara could help; he is almost always there, especially on weekends.

“Cotopaxi Cara Sur” Approach:
Panamerican Hw – “Cotopaxi Cara Sur” refuge parking lot1h10min20km


  • It is usually required two days for climbing to the summit of this mountain. It’s also possible in one long hiking day.
  • If you don't have private transportation, it is convenient to rent a pickup truck taxi at the Machachi or Latacunga central parks. It's also possible to rent a pickup truck at the beginning of the road that goes from the Pan-American to the Cotopaxi Caspi Control; the transport company “Refugio Jose Rivas S.A.” have an office at this place and provide this service almost every day of the year.
  • The road to the Morurco is paved until nearly the Ticatilin community; then it’s better to continue by 4×4 vehicle. It’s not an evident road, almost sure you will need to ask for the directions to the "Refugio Cara Sur del Cotopaxi".
  • The communities have closed the road with a metal gate. You must talk to one of the community members: Rafael Endara could help; he is almost always there, especially on weekends. You could also arrange your stay at the Cara Sur refuge, a week in advanced; they will help you with all your needs.
  • It is forbidden to drive outside the established routes. This infraction is subject to a fine.
  • There are beautiful landscapes at the south face of the Cotopaxi Volcano.
  • The vehicle is parked at 3951 meters near the Cara Sur refuge. The Morurco Valley is about 1.5 hours hiking; The Cotopaxi glacier about 4 hours.

Climbing and Hiking

There are some attractive routes:

  • Ascent to the summit of Morurco
  • Trekking Morurco 360
  • Ascension to the Cotopaxi south face glaciers
  • Trekking Morurco - Quilindaña
Click for more information


Tristerix longebracteatus
Tristerix longebracteatus
Perezia pungens
Perezia pungens

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This peak is composed of ampholic-pyroxene andesite rocks. It is the rest of an old volcanic cone predecessor of the current one, the most violent explosions of the terminal eruptive phase made the primitive cone jump up in the air so that only a few peaks of the demolished caldera remained standing.

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