Cayambe mountain climbing" means scaling the only volcano in the world whose summit is crossed by the equator. As the third highest peak in Ecuador, the first Cayambe climb was made in 1880 by Edward Whymper and the Carrel brothers. However, it's best known for having the largest – and arguably the most beautiful – glaciers in Ecuador. For adrenaline junkies, these huge ice plateaus also offer mile-high skiing opportunities. Though located in Cayambe-Coca National Park, in close proximity to Quito, the Cayambe Volcano is less visited than other mountains due to the technical difficulty of climbing it. Yet for those who do reach the summit, the experience and views will be memories for a lifetime. We kindly invite you to this amazing adventure in Ecuador, Cayambe climbing. To become acclimatized to the high altitude, on this “glacier school” tour, you will first visit some high-altitude sites such as the Pasochoa Nature Reserve, the Mojanda Lakes and Cuicocha Lake, as well as trek up the Pasochoa and the Pichincha volcanos. Another point of interest will be a visit to the famous Otavalo indigenous market.
“Thank you again for making our holidays in Ecuador unforgettable. Both of us will definitely recommend Surtrek as well as Cuyabeno Lodge.”
Upon arrival in Quito – Ecuador’s capital city, lying at 9,186 feet (2,800 m) above sea level – you will be met at the airport and driven to you hotel in the modern center of the city. After a short break, you will have a chance to explore the city and learn more about its history. You will get to see both the modern northern area of Quito, with its many parks and tall buildings, as well as the plazas of Santo Domingo, Independencia, and San Francisco – all located in the historic colonial district. Due to its many historical architectural monuments, Quito was declared the first UNESCO “World Heritage Site,” in 1978. In the evening you will be given a tour briefing while enjoying a welcome cocktail at your hotel’s bar. Overnight at the hotel.
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.
The Pichincha Volcano is great for those who want to go on a fairly demanding high-altitude hike. The Andean village of Lloa (situated at 11,483 feet, or 3,500 m), in the southwest basin of Quito, 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 and up to the refuge just 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 covered 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 emerges from the inside of the crater, testify to its volcanic activity. You will need about three hours for your descent. After this activity, in the late afternoon we will drive you to an area near the town of Otavalo, where you will spend the night.
This morning we will travel to the Mojanda lakes, situated at an altitude of approximately 11,500 feet (3,500 m). These three crystal-clear bodies of water (Mojanda Grande, Negra, and Chiquita Lake) are located in the crater of the extinct Mojanda Volcano. From here we will drive to Cuicocha Lagoon. This beautiful lake is situated in the crater of the extinct Cotacachi Volcano (16,204 feet, or 4,939 m) at the edge of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, which is a protected area located at around 10,499 feet (3,200 m) above sea level. It will take three to four hours to walk around the lake, where you will discover the beautiful plant life that grows here. After this, you will be driven back to Otavalo, where you will again spend the night.
We will begin with our “glacier school” by checking the ice and snow anchors, as well as by going over rope handling, route searches and how to use ice axes as preparation of the team for the next day’s day. In the afternoon, we will return to Otavalo to rest.
After breakfast, we will visit the town of Otavalo, which is famous for its colorful indigenous market where you can buy textiles and many other handicraft items. The people are very friendly, and if you barter there’s a chance of getting some real bargains. After lunch we will drive to the town of Cayambe and then reach the mountain base camp, situated at an altitude of 15,100 feet (4,600 m) above sea level. In the afternoon, you will go for an acclimatization walk with the guide to get used to the altitude and to find the best route to the summit. As there are condors here, you might even see some gliding elegantly through the sky. We will return to the camp for an early dinner and our overnight stay.
You will be woken up at midnight to prepare for the climb. If the weather conditions are good, you will reach the peak in about six to seven hours. The beautiful glaciers lie exactly on the equator. As dawn arrives, you will have spectacular views that you will likely remember forever. The return journey over snowfields to the base camp (around three hours) should also be a great experience. In the afternoon, you will be driven back to your hotel in Quito, where the tour will end.
“I want to thank you for arranging a perfect tour for me. I know you did not have control over who the other people would be, but it all, on all fronts, was perfect. The itinerary was sensational and the boat fabulous.”