Cotopaxi is the largest active volcano in Ecuador. In August 2015 there was an increase in volcanic activity with a number of explosions and ash emitted from the volcano on the 14th. At that time World Challenge had four expedition teams in Ecuador; one experiencing a travel delay to the Galapagos Islands due to the ash closing air space, and one being unable to trek the Rumiñhuai volcano which is in the vicinity.
We continue to utilise a number of government and security agencies as well as our own knowledgeable in-country network to keep abreast of developments. The Ecuadoran National Risk Control Agency has issued a yellow alert for Cotopaxi (yellow, orange, red in severity order) and along the rivers in the Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Napo provinces. The Cotopaxi National Park is currently closed.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Foreign Commonwealth Office do not advise against travel to Ecuador at this time, however, our local assets have informed us that the government are currently putting in place measures to evacuate people from areas that could be affected.
In the event of an eruption a number of areas where World Challenge travel to could be affected by mud and volcanic flows, ash and gas emissions, travel disruptions and potential water and power shortages. Currently the volcano is intermittently releasing ash.
Our highest priority is the safety of our participants. Whilst international and national agencies are unable to predict the level of disruption at this time, World Challenge has taken the decision to divert teams who are due to travel to Ecuador between now and the end of this year (2015).
At this stage we are confident that there will be minimal disruption to any expedition due to depart in 2016.