Ecuador | Andes Mountains & Cotopaxi

A 14-day Ecuador expedition designed to give you the skills needed to explore the backcountry internationally. And, it’s absolutely spectacular.

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


International programming with The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) provides unparalleled adventure. Immerse yourself in the outdoors, while learning outdoor technical skills, experiencing cultural immersion, and discovering environmental sustainability in a mountain environment.

Show More
14 days

Course Information

Adventure First

Explore some of the most beautiful mountain views as you explore Cotopaxi National Park and the surrounding countryside.

Travel along the snow-capped volcanoes of Ecuador, as you trek through Antisana Ecological Reserve and Cotopaxi National Park.  Discover the rich biodiversity of the area, while summiting peaks and enjoying magnificent, 360-degree views of the Inter-Andean valley. Within this landscape, you’ll develop solid outdoor skills and explore issues in environmental sustainability, all while integrating a sense of community and adventure.

Working with our local contacts at Palugo Farm in Quito, Ecuador, we’ll explore some of the most intricate techniques to sustainable farming, from gardening and cooking, to cleaning and animal work.

NCOAE’s 14-day Andes Mountains & Cotopaxi course is exceptional with a unique combination of adventure and skill development, including: outdoor leadership, map and compass navigation, and plant and animal identification. You’ll also develop technical skills with backpacking, backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, mountaineering, and international travel.

At the end of this course you’ll be able use these newly developed skills to travel in pristine locations around the world!

Show More
  • Duration: 14 days
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Tuition: $3,455.00
  • Credit Hours: 3

Education Always

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning
  • Remote wilderness camp craft
  • Backcountry navigation
  • NCOAE core curriculum
  • Navigating international logistics and Spanish-language variables
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads


  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • NCOAE Core Curriculum
  • Gain experience in international travel, risk management, environmental studies, plant and animal identification, outdoor leadership, and more.


  • Develop Backpacking & Mountaineering skills
  • Advance your knowledge of environmental sustainability & outdoor education curriculum — while learning in Ecuador’s wild, beautiful places
  • Discover which areas of outdoor and environmental education are best suited to your strengths
  • Acquire the skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!



  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Andes Mountains
  • Antisana Ecological Reserve
  • Cotopaxi National Park
  • Otavalo Market
What is the Ecuador - 14-day Andes Mountains & Cotopaxi National Park course?

The Ecuador Andes Mountain & Cotopaxi National Park trip is a 14-day outdoor course that takes you to the southern hemisphere. You’ll learn the skills you need to plan, prepare, and lead outdoor adventure-based experiential education courses. You will develop a wide-range of wilderness and leadership skills, including backpacking, backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, mountaineering, international travel planning, environmental and civic responsibility, leadership and communication skills, decision-making, and teamwork. No other program offers a combination of hands-on experiential educator training in an international setting.


Where in Ecuador will our course visit?

Your group will board a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador where you will be introduced to our local contacts. Soon after your arrival, you will explore some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in the world. Ecuador is a land of extremes, and you’ll see it all.

Your course may include exploring the countryside and sustainable farming in Quito, Ecuador, backpacking in Cotopaxi National Park, and local community stays, and the Otavalo market.

Do I need to have any previous experience in outdoor adventure sports?

No. Previous experience is not required. NCOAE will teach you all the basics you need to know to thrive in the wilderness, and then let you apply them among your group of peers. We will train you in the skills necessary to become a competent wilderness leader.

How far will we be hiking?

While there are no predetermined distances, you will typically travel 3-5 miles one day and none the next. You will learn to embrace and appreciate the unknown and unexpected.

What activities will I engage in?

You will engage in a wide range of experiential wilderness learning activities, including map and compass wilderness navigation, international expedition planning, cultural immersion, community homestays, backpacking, campcraft, backcountry cooking, mountaineering, and wilderness risk management, with specific time included for exploring nature, journaling, engaging in rich cultural exchange, and reflecting in solitude.

What do I need to do to prepare physically for the course?

Physical preparation depends on your fitness level. You don’t need to be a triathlete to participate, but you will be responsible for carrying your own equipment and some of the group gear while maintaining a positive attitude. The backpacking section will require you to carry 40 pounds or more over rough and rugged terrain, through various environments.

Do I need to buy any special equipment or clothes for the course?

Yes. NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE 14-Day Ecuador Pack List.

How many people will be in my group?

Each group has one to three instructors and eight to 15 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in Ecuador?

Your tuition covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

How do I book my flight?

All Travel Arrangements for NCOAE International programs are managed and facilitated by NCOAE’s trusted travel agency professionals, Travel Associates.  Travel Associates is a bespoke travel agency staffed by MaryJo Palmer and Heidi Cunningham, both seasoned Travel Advisors with years of experience behind them.  MaryJo and Heidi are based in Woodstock, Vermont but assist with customers based around the world.  While Travel Associates specialty is luxury travel, they are also highly skilled at complex itineraries and can provide guidance on everything from upgrades to Visas to Travel Insurance.  Upon enrolling in an NCOAE program, you will need to contact Mary Jo or Heidi at either 800-640-4137 or 802-332-3511, or by email at and  to secure your travel arrangements.

What is the average age of participants?

The age range for this course is 18-23 years old.

Will we have any free time to ourselves?

Part of every NCOAE course is the solo experience. You will have the opportunity to spend a set amount of time alone in the backcountry for reflection – to meet your own personal needs and desired outcomes.  Additionally, there will be re-supply days throughout the course, giving you time to head into town to relax and prepare for the next leg of your course.

Is financial aid available? Can I earn college credits? How do I apply?

At this time, we do not offer financial aid.  However, if you are a college student you may be able to use your existing federal financial aid to help pay for your course, and you may receive college credits through a consortium agreement with NCOAE. If you are attending a college or university as part of a degree granting program, your advisor can determine whether your school will accept and transfer academic credits for participating in NCOAE courses from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. If it does, consult your financial aid office to determine if, how, and which funds may be used toward your NCOAE course costs. For more information on the consortium agreement process, contact

Academic Credit

Your work during the 14-day Ecuador Andes Mountain & Cotopaxi course is eligible for up to three college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

If you are interested in earning additional academic credit for a course, learn more about our Outdoor Educator and Gap Year / Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits.

Course Outcomes

This course is for you if you want to explore Ecuador, immerse yourself in local culture, discover issues in environmental sustainability, learn technical outdoor skills, and/or if your career game plan includes working full-time as an outdoor educator with international experience.

Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, academic, etc.)?

NCOAE’s international programming objectives revolve around the concepts of self, community, action and impact; focus on authentic international learning and hands-on education; and involve locals and communities to create meaningful academic and personal connections.

A fundamental part of this course includes map and compass reading, wilderness navigation, river crossing techniques, the fine art of setting up a campsite, advanced backpacking skills, and more.

How will NCOAE help you get there?

You’ll be immersed in 14-powerful days of the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) Core Curriculum — an approach to facilitating, guiding and leading that is unrivaled in the industry.

Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

A 14-day Andes Mountain & Cotopaxi National Park expedition designed to give you the experience of a lifetime!

Available Dates
July 25 — August 07, 2022