Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador activities

 Ecuador  >> Ecuador attractions

Ecuador climbing & trekking


Climbing on Cotopaxi volcano EcuadorThe volcanic mountain summits of Ecuador provide easy access to high-altitude climbing with their peaks reaching over 20.697 ft. (6.310m). Ecuador's glacier-covered mountains straddle the equatorial zone of the planet providing relatively warm mountaineering environments and a variety of technical climbing challenges. The Andes is the world's second highest mountain range, spanning from Colombia to the tip of Patagonia in southern Chile. 

Conically shaped Cotopaxi is Ecuador's most popular mountain to climb. Technically easy, yet approaching 19.000 ft, this mountain has set personal altitude records for thousands of climbers.

Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak, was once claimed to be the world's highest mountain by legendary explorer Alexander Humboldt, and in one way he is correct: due to the equatorial bulge of the planet, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in the world if you measure from the center of the Earth instead of measuring from sea level.

Cayambe, Ecuador's third highest mountain, is a more technical climb. Located directly on the equator, it is the highest point on the planet that intersects the equatorial line. Antisana, Ecuador's fourth highest mountain and one of the country's most difficult climbs, is also one of Ecuador's most scenic peaks.


Trekking in EcuadorIf you prefer hiking and trekking, there are a number of excellent trips through the Andean paramo (a sub-alpine zone) which features spectacular views of Ecuador's volcanic peaks. The most popular treks are the Trek de Condor, which passes the often cloud-shrouded Antisana, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi volcanoes; and the Ingapirca trek which takes you along an old Incan trail to Ecuador's most important Incan ruins, Ingapirca. For the intrepid trekker there are several Andes-to-Amazon hikes that take you from the grassy plains of the high altitude paramo, through cloudforest, and finally to lowland rainforest. During your descent, as you pass from one ecosystem to another, you'll see dramatic changes in the flora and fauna while you are peeling off layer after layer of clothing. At the beginning of your journey, you may be huddled on a paramo cushion plant as a condor soars overhead; and a few days later, you could be wiping the sweat off your brow as you try to get a glimpse of a blue and green macaw squawking in the crown of a palm tree.

There are numerous route options, since the locals keep most trails well-trodden. On the Eastern Slope of the Andes heading down to the Amazon basin, try the routes running from Oyacachi to El Chaco, Atillo to Macas, or Saraguro to 25 de Mayo. Recommended treks on the coastal side of the Andes include the Golondrinas hike, Lloa to Mindo, and Chugchilan to Pucayacu.

Coastal and rainforest hikes are possible, but it's a good idea to hire a local guide as it is easy to get lost and you're often traveling though private or community-held land. There are some great hikes from lodges along the Napo River. For the more adventurous, a canoe trip along the Tiputini or Yasuni rivers can be arranged with indigenous guides. Near the coast, an especially interesting area is the Bilsa Reserve near Quinide. This area is also home to the Chachi indigenous group.

Ecuador, Cotopaxi volcano


Rafting in Ecuador

Next Ecuador page...
Ecuador activities, rafting

Last Modified 8/1/06 6:31 PM