Oyacachi – Chaco Trek

Duration: 5 days- 4 nights*

Walking distance: 42 km

Rating: Difficult**

Altitude: 3.200 to 1.600 meters

Best time to visit: From November to February which are the driest months but it could rain any time.

Observations: Oyacachi may get very cold especially during nights. Sometimes it can even get close to zero degrees. Make sure you bring the appropriate cloth for day and night one.

TREK DESCRIPTION: This trek is one of the passes that connects the sierra and the oriente. It follows a prehispanic trading route that goes down all along the Rio Oyacachi.  The trek begins at the small town of Oyacachi located at about 90 km east of Quito in the Ecological Reserve Cayambe-Coca. Oyacachi is a small indigenous community increasingly known by its hot springs pools and captivating history. It is said that a group of indigenous people from the Imbaya community escaped from a sure dead at the hands of the hispaniards and hide themselves at this hard-to-reach land where they settled. From the Andean town Oyacachi located at 3.200 m our trek gradually descends through the cloud forest to the town of El Chaco at 1.600 m which is one of the main gates to the jungle.  Across the path we will cross rivers and bridges; may have the opportunity to see primary forest, birds and if we are lucky enough even tapir or the Andean bear (oso de anteojos).


Day 1


We leave from Quito and head northeast for a three hours ride to the community of Oyacachi


Arrival to Oyacachi




Afternoon free to have a glance of the community and to visit the artisanal carpenters shop and a trout farm.


We set up our camping site within the hot spring term area and start organizing the food and required camping gear for the trek




We will enjoy a nice bath in the thermal pools. By this time the pools are cleaned and filled with renewed water

Day 2


We will wake up early in the morning to pack the camp up and double check our trekking food, gear and baggage. We will have some spared time for those wanting to take a morning bath.




We start our 6 to 8 hours trek. This will be the easiest day of our trek. On our way we will stop at Maucallacta which is a ruin complex where the second settlement of Oyacachi took place. On the sixties the community moved to its current location after a land slide virtually destroyed that settlement. We will continue east along a dirty road for about two hours until a place called “La Punta” where the dirty road ends. From there we will take a “chaquiñan” that will lead us along the Oyacachi River for the next three days. We will pass through the last local farms to gradually get into the cloud forest. By the late afternoon we will set up our camp halfway between Chalpi and Cedro Rivers.

Day 3

After breakfast we pack the camp up and continue our trek. Depending on the conditions of the route we may expect to reach our next camp site after 6 hours of an increasingly demanding walk. We will start the day with an easy walk until the Rio Cedro’s bridge. From here onwards the path narrows and takes us in a fascinating up and down hill journey. Through the day our guide will have plenty of opportunities to show his machete skills to open his way through the increasingly dense vegetation. By the late afternoon we will set up our camp in a river beach near “quebrada del muerto”. Here we may enjoy a cold but refreshing bath at the river or even try our luck at artisanal fishing.

Day 4

Without any doubts the toughest but the most beautiful trekking day of the journey. Moving through a dense vegetation and on a muddy and slippery path, we will find ourselves at the heart of a primary forest. While the path repeatedly continues up and down through exuberant hills we will enjoy breathe-taking views of the river and of some small waterfalls. Day 4 will take us close to the River Santa Maria’s Bridge where we will set up our campsite at a river beach.

Day 5

Early in the morning we will head to El Chaco. As the terrain turns flat we approach the Santa Maria River’s Bridge. Crossing this old and ruined bridge is an experience in itself as we will have to climb to get on top of its platform (access ramp lacking) and then to cross through rotten wooden ties.  From here an easy path will take us through farmlands to another bridge over the Oyacachi River. Here our transportation will be waiting for us to take us to El Chaco. Those who prefer to keep on walking may enjoy another three hours trek on a very easy and dusty road to town. After a well-deserved lunch we will return to Quito where we will arrive around 8pm.

*Depending on fitness level the whole trek maybe done within 4 days-3 nights. We may also skip the first section of the trek that goes on the dirty road and start our trek at “La Punta”. For a supplement we may also arrange mules to carry personal stuff as far as Río Cedro. Beyond this point porters may help carrying most of our gear and food. For those wanting to do the whole trek and better enjoy the journey and the campsites we recommend the 5 days option or the 4 days option but hiring mules or porters.

 **If done in a four days basis with no porters this trek will rather be rated “challenging”.


  • Tents
  • Gas tanks and burners
  • Food and beverages during the trek (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Private transportation
  • Bilingual mountain guide
  • Entrance to National Park
  • Tickets for thermals
  • Pack animals for second day


  • Personal camping equipment (sleeping bag, mat)
  • Tips


  • Insect repellent
  • Swimming suit
  • Small towel
  • Down jacket
  • Raining boots
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Long sleeves and easy to dry T-Shirts
  • Trekking Poles
  • Trekking gloves (to protect hands against brushes)



  • Backpack of 70-90 liters
  • A daypack (If hiring mules or porters)
  • Down jacket
  • Pants Easy to dry
  • Long sleeves and easy to dry T-Shirts (Cotton should be avoided)
  • Polar Tec
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • First layer pants
  • Warm gloves and trekking gloves
  • Sun cap (for sun protection) and beanie (for cold protection)
  • Buff
  • Raining boots
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes
  • Socks for each day (for trekking)
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Knife*
  • Camera*
  • Personal hygiene kit
  • Sun block (at least 50)
  • Water bottle
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Insulating or mat
  • Gaiters
  • Personal medical supplies
  • Trekking Poles *