In June/July 2009, working as Expedition Leader for World Challenge, I lead an expedition to Ecuador with a group from La Chataigneraie, the International School of Geneva. For the pupils this four-week expedition is the culmination of a two-year Leadership and Personal Development programme.

Our itinerary includes working with a local school in Quito, a five-day mountain trek through the Sincholagua pass at 4,500m altitude, horse riding, a four-day jungle trek in the rainforest, white-water rafting and a visit to the equator line, ‘El Mitad del Mundo’.

For photographs of this expedition see Ecuador – Quito & Project – June 2009 and Ecuador – Antisana to Cotopaxi – July 2009 and Ecuador – Welcome to the Jungle – July 2009 and Ecuador – Return to Quito – July 2009

This expedition is arranged by World Challenge

We arrive in Quito and embark on our busy first day dealing with in-country administration and organising local transport and guides for the coming weeks. That done we spend the next few days acclimatising (Quito is at 2,850m altitude) and working with a local school.

Next we travel to Papallacta (3,300m altitude) and take a one-day acclimatisation trek in the beautiful highlands in this area before we embark on our main trek.

At the start of our main, five-day, trek on the Condor Trail we load our equipment onto our packhorses and then we set off. We walk mostly on muddy trails and wade across many small rivers. Our first campsite is at a small lagoon called Laguna Vulcan (Volcano Lake) and the hike takes us about four hours to complete.

We have an early start for the longest day of our mountain trek and after breakfast we begin our ascent. The first two hours still take us through muddy areas and small forests until we reach the higher paramo regions, void of trees but with much drier ground. After another four-hour hike we pass the magnificent and massive Antisana glacier and the Santa Lucia lagoon. We reach our second camp at the foot of Antisana at 4,100m located in a sheltered valley with a small creek running through it.

On the third day we trek through the higher paramo regions towards the base of the southern peak of Antisana and camp at 4,300m, high-up near the peak.

The following day we trek across the sweeping valley leading to the Volcan Sincholagua and camp at 4,000m altitude.

Our final mountain trek day begins with a steep climb up to the Sincholagua pass (4,500m altitude), which leads into the Cotopaxi National Park. Later in the day we reach the roadhead and arrange transport to Machachi (2,870m altitude).

After a night in Machachi we have a day\’s horse riding in the area and rest and relax in the evening. The next day we travel to Tena. Here we confirm the details of the next few days with the local jungle guides.

We stay overnight in Tena and the next day we begin our jungle trek. This is one of the best-preserved rainforest areas in Ecuador. We stay in the rainforest, living in local cabanas and we spend the next four days exploring the jungle on foot and by river. We discover the way of life in the rainforest, meet local people and learn about their culture and crafts.

We return to Tena for the night and the next day we go white-water rafting. After a further night in Tena we return to Quito for a final day and night and in the evening we go out for a meal to celebrate our achievements before returning to Geneva.


Steve holds the prestigious International Mountain Leader Award and also the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader Awards. He is a full member of BAIML and an adviser to Mountain Training UK&I. Steve has travelled extensively on six continents and has a wide experience, gained over more than thirty five years, of explorations and leading expeditions in remote environments on land – trekking in mountains, jungles, deserts and safaris and on water – rafting and canoeing. He works with his own clients and travel companies and takes adults and children on amazing adventures around the world. He has trained at and been assessed by Britain’s National Mountain Centres who are world class in the instruction and coaching of outdoor professionals. Steve is a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Accredited Expedition Assessor. He trains, supervises and assesses candidates on Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE Expeditions. He is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, has an enhanced DBS disclosure and his own public liability insurance.