The Cayambe Volcano is the only volcano in the world whose summit is crossed by the equator. The third highest peak in Ecuador, Cayambe was first conquered in 1880 by Edward Whymper and the Carrel brothers. It is renowned for having the largest and arguably the most beautiful glaciers in Ecuador. For adrenaline junkies, these huge ice plateaus also offer skiing opportunities at 5,500 meters (3 miles) above sea level. The volcano is part of the country’s “System of Protected Areas,” and it’s located within the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve. To ascend this mountain is technically easy; however, excellent physical condition and good acclimatization is indispensable because of the volcano’s altitude. Due to the difficulty of accessing Cayambe, it is not one of the most visited mountains in Ecuador; however, those intrepid climbers who attempt it are always impressed by its spectacular beauty and views.
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AM: We will pick you up at 9:00 a.m. at your hotel to start our trip north along the Pan-American Highway. After descending into and crossing the Guayllabamba Valley (well known for its sweet and fleshy chirimoyas fruits), we will continue the journey onward to the town of Cayambe, famous for its biscuits and cheeses. From here we turn to the east, taking secondary roads to the Piemonte Hacienda, which is the entry point to the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve. After about 30 minutes, we will reach the Oleas Ruales base camp, at 4,600 m.a.s.l, arriving there at around 1:00 p.m.
PM: After lunch at the base camp, we will go on an acclimatization walk and survey the planned route for the following day. Your guide will also review with you the basics of using the technical equipment for climbing the glacier. We will later return to the base camp for dinner and go to bed early.
AM: We wake up before midnight to prepare for our ascent. After a light breakfast we will leave the comfort of the shelter to attempt to conquer the summit of Cayambe. With clear weather and good physical conditions, we should reach the top after 4 or 5 hours of trekking. En route to the summit, and also when returning, we will cross immense glaciers, ideal for skiing and availing yourself of spectacular scenery. The return to the base camp will take about 3 or 4 hours.
PM: After lunch and a short break in the afternoon, you will be driven back to Quito.
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