Sincholagua, Ecuador
Elevation Table
Western Summit:4792m
Highest Summit:4893m
Eichler Summit:4878m
Hoeneisen Summit:4780m
Pita River:3643m
Rock Ridge Start:4213m
Sands Foot:4371m


The Sincholagua is a Pleistocene volcano strongly eroded by the action of glaciers. Although at present it has no glaciers, it can be admired covered with snowfields most of the year, especially from Quito and the Los Chillos Valley. The volcano rocky base approximate diameter is about 3.5 kilometers with some the vestiges of its caldera to the south. The Sincholagua is composed of a central core where its two main summits and its two secondary summits rise from the west to the east; From these summits, rocks and sand flow into rocky ridges and next to the páramo break off radially separated by ancient glacial valleys.

The approach to the mountain has always been on the western flank, making use of the roads that access the Cotopaxi National Park and cross the Limpiopungo plain. Their other flanks are very little visited, they present approaching difficulties and demand longer hikes until the rock base.

National Park: Parque Nacional Cotopaxi


Long hike to the rock
Long hike to the rock
Sincholagua Volcano
Sincholagua Volcano
Near the summit
Near the summit

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Eastern Cordillera; 40 kilometers in a straight line southeast of Quito; 22 km east of Machachi. There are four routes for approaching the Sincholagua:

1) Normal Approach "North Control": In the Machachi central plaza you can ask for the road to the Cotopaxi National Park North Control, the first section is paved and later ballasted, more appropriate for 4 × 4 vehicles. It is necessary to register the entry at the northern control, and continue by the first deviation to the left towards the old "Estación del Río Pita". Vehicles are parked next to the station ruins, where the trail to the Sincholagua summit begins.

2) "Control Caspi" Approach: From Quito take the South Panamerican highway towards Latacunga, passing Machachi you go up to the "Nudo de Tiopullo" and then go down towards Lasso, just finishing this descent you will find a well-signposted detour that indicates the exit to Cotopaxi. The road is paved for the most part and goes through the Cotopaxi National Park Caspi control where registration is mandatory. A few kilometers beyond the pavement ends and it continues the old ballast road that reaches the Limpiopungo lagoon. At this point it is necessary to head towards the Cotopaxi National Park North Control. Just arriving at the North Control, you can see a path to the right that goes to the old "Estación del Río Pita". The trail towards the Sincholagua summit begins at this place next to the Pita River.

3) Sangolquí Approach: From Sangolquí, "Redondel del Choclo", it is taken to the south by the Juan de Salinas avenue, following straight it will end up arriving at the Cotopaxi National Park North Control. From there go left to the old "Estación del Río Pita", Water Station.

Normal Approach "North Control":
Machachi – North Control45min18km
North Control – Pita River Station10min2km
"Control Caspi" Approach:
Panamerican Hw – Limpiopungo Lagoon45min20km
Limpiopungo Lagoon – North Control16min8km
Sangolquí Approach:
Sangolquí – North Control1h27km


  • One day is usually used to ascend to the summit of this mountain.
  • If you do not have private transportation, it is convenient to rent a pickup truck at the Machachi central square. It is also possible to rent a pickup truck at the beginning of the road that goes from the Pan-American to the Caspi Control; the transport company "Refugio José Rivas S.A." has an office at this place and provides this service almost every day of the year.
  • The entrance time to the Cotopaxi National Park is from 8am to 3pm for any of the two accesses, every day of the year. The park is opened until 5pm.
  • Access to motorcycles or quadrons is not allowed.
  • It's forbidden to drive the vehicle outside the established routes. This infraction is subject to a fine.
  • Pets are not allowed.
  • Do not litter.
  • For those who don't want to climb to the summit, it is recommended to make an easy and short hike from the North Control to the Pita River Station.
  • There are excellent cycling routes in the Cotopaxi National Park.

Climbing and Hiking

There are some attractive routes:

  • North Control - Pita River Station
  • Pita River Station - Sincholagua Highest Summit
  • Trekking del Condor (Sincholagua - Antisana - Papallacta)
  • Cycling route: North Control - Limpiopungo Lagoon
  • Cycling route: North Control - Santo Domingo Lagoon
Click for more information


Pernettya prostrata
Pernettya prostrata
Astragalus geminiflorus
Astragalus geminiflorus

Click here to view the flora gallery


First visits and opened routes:

  • Highest Summit: Edward Whymper and the Carrel Brothers, 1880
  • Eichler Peak (Oriental): Arturo Eichler and H. López, 1952
  • Hoeneisen Peak (South): Miguel Andrade and Hugo Torres, 1974
Click to read about their visits and ascents

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