Chimborazo is the highest mountain in the Ecuadorian Andes, and — due to its location along the equatorial bulge — its summit is the farthest point on the Earth's surface from the planet's center, as well as the closest point to the sun. This "Chimborazo Climbing Tour" will offer a challenge to even the most experienced mountaineer. The technical requirements of the climb and the long approach to reach the peak will certainly push your physical limits. In addition to proper acclimatization, excellent physical condition is required to cover the 1,300-meter altitude difference between the Whymper Refuge and the summit, a 9 to 12-hour climb over never-ending glaciers. Challenge yourself and be one of the few who have left their footprints on the most distant point from the earth’s molten center. Break the 20,000 ft. barrier and stand on point closet to the sun. The highest mountain in Ecuador is a physically challenging and technical climb. On this climbing tour — in addition straddling the world at the equatorial line, visiting Ecuador’s “adventure town” of Banos, and marveling at two wondrous crater lakes — you will also have chances to trek up to the summits of the Pichincha and the North Illiniza volcanos. While on this later trek especially, you are likely to spot condors, deer, wolves and other small mammals. Plus, these treks will take you through small indigenous settlements and strikingly beautiful Andean valleys.

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Highlights

Quito Old Town, Pululahua crater, Pasochoa Reserve, Guagua Pichincha, Quilotoa.

Itinerary Details

Pasochoa Nature Reserve

AM: Today, after breakfast, we will leave Quito and travel 30 miles (50 km) south to Pasochoa Nature Reserve. To reach Hacienda San Francisco, where we will begin trekking at an altitude of 3,600 meters across the paramo (grassland highlands). It will take us about two hours to reach the first summit of the Pasochoa Volcano, at 4,200 meters above sea level. Along the trails, you are likely to see various species of orchids and bromeliads, as well as rare types of cedar. In addition to this lush paramo vegetation, more than 120 types of birds live in this area, giving you an opportunity to observe hummingbirds and possibly even sight condors soaring above. After another 30 minutes of trekking, we will make our way to the second summit, at 4,150 meters. The decent will then take about one hour, allowing us to return to Quito in the late afternoon. You will spend the night at your hotel.

PM:

AM: The Pichincha Volcano is a great option for those who want to do a fairly demanding high-altitude hike. The Andean village of Lloa (situated at 11,483 feet, or 3,500 m) is in the basin southwest of Quito and will be the starting point for your trip into the Andean mountains. From here, a path will lead you over the foothills of the slopes of Guagua Pichincha peak and up to the refuge below the crater’s edge, which is reached after a five-hour hike. Only a few meters will separate you from the 15,728-foot (4,794 m) summit of this active volcano. (The last time the volcano erupted, in 2001, it blanketed Quito in several centimeters of black ash!). From here you will have an amazing view into the horseshoe-shaped crater, which is open on the western side. The smoke, along with the cones of scree and ash that emerge from the inside of the crater, testifies to the volcanic activity found here. You will need about three hours for your descent. In the late afternoon, we will drive you to your hotel, in the El Chaupi area.

PM:

AM: The peaks of the two Illinizas mountains, North and South, are a mixture of rocks and ice. These summits are the remnants of a single volcano, though they are now separated from each other by a distance of one kilometer. From these peaks, you will have a beautiful view of the nearby Cotopaxi Volcano. In the morning you will be driven from the El Chaupi area, following a country road to the El Refugio hacienda, and then driving up the slopes of the North Illinizas (a distance of around 3 miles [5 km]) to a narrow grass plain called La Virgen (“The Virgin”). Here, our 2-3 hour hike starts as we ascend to the Nuevos Horizontes refuge (cabins), at an elevation of 15,338 feet (4,675 m). If you are very physically fit and are already acclimatized to the altitude, you can start your ascent to the northern peak today, which should be reached in around three hours. Hiking back down to our transport vehicle will also take about three hours. From there, we will return to the mountain refuge to relax and enjoy a hearty dinner.

PM:

AM: During a six-hour round-trip by car, you will discover the western Andes region, which is one of the most impressive parts of Ecuador. First, we will travel south to the town of Latacunga, and then we will proceed west through the western Cordillera, making a short stop in the village of Pujilí to purchase fruit at the local market. The tour then takes you to Zumbuahua, a small, colorful village of about 40 households. Around 10 kilometers north of this village lies the blue and green glimmering Quilotoa Crater Lake. This “lagoon” is one of the most beautiful volcano lakes in the entire Ecuadorian Andes. From the crater, you can see various snow-capped volcanoes. After a hike through this impressive landscape, you will be driven to Baños for the night.

PM:

AM: Today’s objective is recovery and relaxation! Baños (at 1,800 meters), with its wonderful setting and pleasant sub-tropical climate, is famous for its thermal spring water baths. There is also a multitude of outdoor activities available in this town, ranging from mountain biking and rafting to visiting waterfalls or observing the active Tungurahua Volcano from a variety of observation decks.

PM:

AM: Following breakfast, you will be driven via Ambato to the highest mountain in Ecuador: Chimborazo (20,702 feet, or 6,310 m). You will pass Carihuayrazo Volcano on your way to the beautiful highlands at the base of Chimborazo, traveling past Andean landscapes along roads that cut through wild ravines. During your journey, you should see plenty of llamas, as well vicuñas and alpacas. You will be driven up to the Hermanos Carrel Hut, the lower of two refuges. Here, you will disembark from the vehicle and ascend by foot to the Whymper Refuge, situated at around 16,404 feet (5,000 m). If the weather is good, you will have the opportunity to go on a short acclimatization walk. After an early dinner, it will then be time to bed.

PM:

AM: Your climb to the summit of the Chimborazo Volcano begins at midnight and should take about eight to nine hours, assuming good weather conditions. From the peak (at an elevation 20,702 feet, or 6,310 m), you will have an utterly fantastic view of distant green Amazonian jungle as well as spectacular views over snow-capped Andean peaks to the blue of the Pacific Ocean – an incomparable sight. The descent back to the refuge will take between four to five hours. From there, you will be driven back to Quito.

PM:

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Trip Advisor Reviews

star rating  Lo mejor es la vista de todo el centro histórico quiteño y recomendable ir de noche.
La comida es rica y sabrosa, los precios no son los mas económicos.

215lionell
June 22, 2016

star rating  Hemos estado dos semanas viajando por Ecuador y Galápagos con la empresa Surtrek y realmente estamos muy contentos con el trabajo de esta empresa. Todo, todo ha sido perfecto, los guias en diferentes ciudades han sido muy amables y competentes, se nota que aman su trabajo y lo más importante, transmiten su amor por su país.

Ha sido un placer conoceros!! Volveremos!!

Rosa M
September 1, 2022

star rating  De inicio a fin, una experiencia única! La agente de ventas muy amable, respondió todas mis inquietudes previas al viaje y se aseguró de que todos mis requerimientos fueran atendidos durante el crucero. El guía asignado nos dio toda la información acerca de cada lugar visitado y se encargó de complacer con distintas actividades para que cada miembro de su variado grupo se sintiera atendido. En el crucero la tripulación muy atenta, sobre todo Carlitos que cuidó muy bien a nuestros niños durante la actividad de snorkeling. La comida variada y deliciosa. Y qué decir de esos paisajes maravillosos, quedarán grabados en nuestra memoria.
Conocer las islas encantadas de la mano de Surtrek es la mejor decisión. Les recomiendo!!

Scenic434694
December 16, 2020