Any mountain climber wanting to experience a technically demanding tour that is off the beaten path will find the Antisana Volcano ideal in every way. Because this mountain is somewhat remote, in the eastern Ecuadorian Andes, and due to the fact that access to the area around the mountain is restricted in order to protect the wildlife and environment, Antisana is less frequented by climbers – which is why it has managed to retain its pristine beauty. Added to this issue of accessibility, Antisana is a glaciated climb of moderate technical difficulty (there are no "walk-up" routes on the mountain), which means that only a few intrepid souls possess the glacier climbing skills to attempt an Antisana ascent. However, those who do will discover panoramic views that are absolutely awe inspiring. Ask any experienced climber who has visited Ecuador, and they will assure that the Antisana Volcano is one of their favorites and well worth the effort. This 5-day/4-night itinerary will include acclimation treks and — depending on the conditions at the time of your climb — a combination of moderately angled glacier travel and short, steep sections of the Antisana itself. This will require the full range of snow-climbing techniques in intermediate terrain to reach the summit, where you can discover a wonderful view of the north face of the Cotopaxi Volcano and a remarkable vista across parts of the Amazon basin. All of this means that an ascent of the Antisana Volcano provides amazing adventure and high quality high-altitude climbing in a spectacular and seldom visited equatorial environment.
“My husband, daughter and I want to thank you again for making our trip to the Galapagos extremely awesome!”
AM: Our adventure begins with a trip to the Pasochoa Volcano, which is situated just 30 km (18 miles) south of Quito, between the western and eastern Andean mountain ranges. Traveling by vehicle, we will reach an altitude of 3,000 meters. From here we will start a trek for about 3 to 4 hours, up to the highest peak at 4,200 meters. From that vantage point, a native and endemic Andean forest can be seen in the crater of the volcano. Due to the difficulty of accessing this forest, it has managed to remain intact and now is home to several native Andean species of wildlife; some of these are endangered, like the Andean mountain lion and the Paramo wolf.
PM: In the afternoon, we will return to the parking area and then drive to your lodge located near the town of El Chaupi.
Illinizas is the remains of a large volcano, which – as a result of its eruptions millions of years ago – formed two peaks. The northern peak is formed of volcanic rocks, and the south is a mixture of ice and rock. The distance between the two peaks is approximately 1 km. The north is relatively easy to climb, but climbing the south peak requires climbing expertise.
AM: We will have breakfast early and then head north to Jambelí Bridge; from there, we will go to El Chaupi, pass the El Refugio Hacienda, and drive on to a parking area known as “La Virgen,” at an altitude of 3,900 meters. From here we start our acclimatization walk and, after three hours, reach the Nuevos Horizontes base camp, located at 4,675 meters above sea level. After a short break, we will continue for another 3 hours to the north peak of Illiniza. With good weather, the view is spectacular, especially if you can see the Cotopaxi Volcano. In the afternoon we will begin the descent to our vehicle, reaching it in about 3 hours.
PM: Finally, we will return to the lodge for dinner and a well-deserved good night of sleep.
AM: After yesterday’s long journey, we recommend a more relaxing day so as to regain your strength. For this, we will have a scenic tour that will take about 6 hours by car. This trip will give you a chance to view the most impressive landscapes of the central Andes. Starting near the village of Pujilí, we will drive to the Zumbahua Valley, passing through the Tigua area, where you can see the famous brilliantly colored Tigua paintings of this area. Close to the town of Zumbahua, you can view the Toachi River, which continues through a dry and arid canyon.
PM: Our tour will then take us to an ancient volcano, where you will discover the Quilotoa Crater Lake and its sulphurous waters. We will walk down to the lake, followed by an almost 200 meter ascent (which is also possible to do this by mule if you choose). In the late afternoon, we will return to our acclimation center to enjoy a delicious meal and to relax in comfort.
AM: This morning we will head out to the Antisana Ecological Reserve. Driving up to our camp area by 4WD vehicle, we will set up our tents while enjoying by the astounding view of the surrounding the Antisana, Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, and Antisanillas mountains.
PM: Later, we will cross valleys and rivers to come into contact with the typical flora and fauna of the Andean highlands, such as Puya Puya or Stipa Ichu. Later, we will return to our camp area at an altitude of 4,100 meters above sea level, where we will go to bed early for the day ahead.
AM: We will get up at midnight for a light breakfast and to prepare our equipment. We will then begin the journey to the summit, always climbing glacier along a 30 to 60 degree slope, crossing fissures, exposed ice edges and snowfields of unique beauty. This expedition will take between 7 to 8 hours, if the conditions are favorable. From the summit you will witness spectacular scenery and the indescribable emotions as you are surrounded by the purest of nature on top of this less visited mountain.
PM: The descent will take between 3 and 4 hours back to our camp, where on board our vehicle and start the journey back to Quito in the afternoon.
“We loved the time at the lodge in Cuyabeno. It was so genuine and natural there and the crew was so knowledgable and helpful. Thank you so much for the recommendation of the real Amazonia-experience.”