Visitor Numbers of Ecuador’s Volcano Cotopaxi are Closing in on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro

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The so called “Roof of Africa”, Mount Kilimanjaro, known as the most important peak of the “Seven Summits” has to deal with the fierce competition of Ecuador’s Volcano Cotopaxi. Gulliver Expeditions Ecuador now refined its unique Cotopaxi Climbing Tour to offer the best approach to reach the summit.

Comparing the Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and the Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Comparing the Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and the Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Next to the Cotopaxi in a radius of one hour by car there are 6 volcanoes over 4,000 meters!

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“The Roof of Africa”

The flat-topped Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is Africa’s highest mountain and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Located on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya, the mountain is made up of three extinct volcanoes, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. The highest peak, Uhuru, is 5,895 m (19,341 ft) high. The “Kili” currently is number two of the “Top 10 Climbs” and the first of the famous “Seven Summits”. This volcanic massif stands in splendid isolation above the surrounding plains, with its snowy peak looming over the savannah. The mountain is encircled by mountain forest in which numerous mammals live, many of them endangered species.

“The Neck of the Moon”

The majestic, snow covered symmetrical stratovolcano of Ecuador’s Cotopaxi with a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft) is located on the Eastern Cordillera of the Ecuadorian Andes, 60 km south of Ecuador’s capital Quito. It’s said that “Cotopaxi” means “Neck of the Moon” in the indigenous language Quechua, mostly because of its almost symmetrical cone that rises from a highland plain of about 3,800 metres (12,500 ft), with a width at its base of about 23 kilometres (14 mi). It has one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world, which starts at the height of 5,000 metres (16,400 ft). Inside the perimeter of the national park there is a plethora of wildlife to be found that attracts the naked eye. The typical mammals frequenting the park are the little red brocket deer, Andean fox named Colpeo, wild horses, llamas, pumas and white-tailed deer while rarer species include the Andean speckled Bear found on the Eastern slopes of the park.

The two Giants are in Competition

In 2006/07 the Kilimanjaro National Park had just over 40,000 visitors, of which almost 39,000 were non-residents. Now the Cotopaxi National Park registered an even higher non-resident visitor number of 39,800 in 2012. This neck to neck rat race means that the Kilimanjaro will not be the logical first choice anymore for climbers attempting to conquer an close to 6,000 meters high volcano glacier summit. And the odds to overtake the competitor are in the Cotopaxi’s favor. Not only because of the Kilimanjaro’s fast melting glacier, but also because of the Cotopaxi’s location in the middle of the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, where climbers can choose from various other volcanic peaks with altitudes between 3,246 meters (10,649 ft) and 6,310 meters (20,560 ft). Next to the Cotopaxi in a radius of one hour by car there are 6 volcanoes over 4,000 meters, called Sincholagua, Ruminahui, Pasochoa, Illinizas, Corazon and Atacazo.

What Makes the Decision Easy

Another crucial factor influencing the climbers’ destination choice are, of course, the expenses of the trip. According to the Overseas Development Institute’s study on Packaging Tourism in Tanzania, the largest single item of tourist expenditure is National Park fees at 47% of the total cost. Each climber pays an average of US$649 in National Park fees as part of their tour operator package.

Considering that the of the Kilimanjaro National Park entrance fee amounts to US$60 and the entrance to all Ecuadorian National Parks is free, this shows how deeply the governmental decisions in these areas can influence the tourist income on a psychological level.

Having the same altitude, a more intact glacier and no entrance fees, chances are that this year’s visitor numbers of the Cotopaxi will exceed the ones of the Kilimanjaro. Recognizing the potential lying in these advantages of the Cotopaxi over the Kilimanjaro, Gulliver Expeditions put their efforts in perfecting and optimizing their Cotopaxi Climbing Tour. Also these tours are integrated in specially designed Acclimatization Packages in order to ensure, that every single one of the potential Volcano Conquerors is able to reach the summit.

About Gulliver Expeditions

Gulliver Expeditions, Quito based tour operator and agency, specializes in adventure travel Ecuador, including climbing and hiking tours in the Avenue of the Volcanoes and the highlands. They also offer cultural sightseeing, biking tours, horseback riding, jungle trips and once-in-a-lifetime cruises to the Galapagos Islands, as well as tailor-made itineraries for trips across the whole country.

Every one of Gulliver's Ecuador tours intergrates high-quality, personalized service, competitive prices, high standards in safety procedures as well as professional, qualified guides.

For more information contact Gulliver on, mail to info(at) or call +593 (2) 2529297 or +1 (347) 535 066.

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Esteban Ludena
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