The Ecuadorian Andes are the perfect destination for hikers from around the world. The extinct and active volcanoes, the rough lava-formed landscapes, and the impressive wildlife, for instance, are just a few reasons for mountain lovers to visit this small Andean country. Hiking in Ecuador is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure – who does not want to stand on top of one of the highest active volcanoes on earth? Check out our small assortment of summits and get some inspiration for your next hiking adventure!
Pasochoa Volcano (4.200 m)
This mountain is a great option for a first ascent to start your acclimatization process. If your goal is to summit one of Ecuador’s highest volcanoes (Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, or Cayambe), you should definitely spend a couple of days in the Andes beforehand. Therefore, hiking some of the lower volcanoes first is a great way to get familiar with the equipment, and for your body to get adjusted to the altitude. Besides, the Pasochoa Volcano also gives you a beautiful insight into the Andean flora and fauna, and on a clear day you might be able to see surrounding mountains.
Rucu Pichincha Volcano (4.696 m)
This one is the perfect choice if you are looking for a day-trip from Quito as it is located literally besides the city and you don’t need a car to get to the starting point. Just hop on the cable car Teleferico that brings you up to 4.000 m and start the approximately 3-hour hike from there. The first part of the path leads you through beautiful “páramo”, the typical Andean vegetation. The last part of the climb is steeper and you will pass a rocky area before reaching the summit. Take a deep breath as the air is way thinner up there!
Rumiñahui Volcano (4.620 m)
The impressive Rumiñahui Volcano is located inside the Cotopaxi National Park and offers three beautiful peaks: the Southern summit, the Central summit, and the Northern summit, the latter being the highest one. The Central summit is the most accessible one, and the hike starts at Limpiopungo Lagoon. If you are lucky, you can see wild horses close to the lagoon, or even an Andean Condor while hiking up to Rumiñahui. Make sure to bring warm and waterproof clothes as the climate can change quickly.
Iliniza Norte Volcano (5.126 m)
If you are already a bit acclimatized by now, you are ready to cross the 5.000 m altitude mark! The beautiful Iliniza Norte volcano is a must for every mountaineer who comes for hiking to Ecuador. Bring your body to the limits during this 4-7-hour hike, but every step is worth the effort. The landscapes are just otherworldly: you will cross Andean vegetation, sandy slopes, and sharp rock formations, and you will walk along windy crests. If that is not an adventure, tell me what else it is!
Cotopaxi Volcano (5.897 m)
Last but not least, the Cotopaxi Volcano just cannot be missing in this listing. Being one of the highest active volcanoes on earth, it is an attraction for experienced mountaineers as well as recreational hikers. Its name, translated from Quechua into English, means “the moon’s neck”, due to the shape of its crater. Although being an active volcano, it is safe to visit the surrounding National Park and to climb to the summit in a 2-day trip. On the first day, you ascend from the parking lot to the refuge Jose Rivas on 4.800 m. Around 01 am, you will get up again and start the second ascent to the top of the mountain – where you hopefully arrive on time to witness a breathtaking sunrise. The glacier hike is not an easy one, so be sure to be prepared whenever you decide to face this challenge!
Can’t wait to hike those impressive volcanoes yourself? Plan your next hiking holidays in Ecuador and travel from mountain to mountain through the breathtaking Andes!