Cotopaxi volcano
Ecuador

Best Volcano Climbs Around Quito, Ecuador

on
September 25, 2018

I fell in love with hiking in Ecuador. The first mountain I summited was in Quito and ever since that day, I never stopped putting my hiking shoes on and escape to the mountains every chance I got. Ecuador is a great country for hiking beginners thanks to its easily accessible mountains in the Andes. Over the years, I got to take a lot of day-trips to the mountains and climb quite a few volcanos around Quito. Here are some of the best volcano climbs around the city!

Climb Fuya-Fuya volcano in Imbabura

I love everything about hiking: going on mini day trips, the tranquility, the challenge of it, the satisfaction of reaching the summit and most importantly, I love the views. Witnessing such incredible landscapes and knowing that your own two feet brought you there is incredibly humbling and addictive. Perched high in the Ecuadorian Andes, all of these mountains are above 4000 meters high (which, coming from a flat country is huge for me) so you can cross that off your bucket list!

Fuya-Fuya 

Starting with one of the best beginners’ hike. Located South of Otavalo, Fuya-Fuya is part of the Mojanda volcanic complex. Sitting at 4263 m, its peaks are more often than not engulfed in clouds and when I went was no exception. Fuya actually means cloudy in Kichwa so the mountain is appropriately called cloudy cloudy. The short hike combined with the outstanding views over the Mojanda lake as you gain elevation makes it a great first hike for nature lovers!

Rumiñahui is a two-hour drive from Quito

Rumiñahui 

Located in the Cotopaxi National Park, Rumiñahui has three main summits (Norte, Central and Sur) – Sitting at 4.630 meters, Rumiñahui Central is the one most people aim for as it doesn’t require climbing experience nor gear. It is one of my all-time favorite hikes because it involves a bit of everything. Starting at the Laguna de Limpiopungo, the trail will take you through the highlands, the arenal (sandy part) and a bit of rock climbing before reaching the summit. As you make your way towards the peak, take the time to turn around and enjoy the breathtaking view of over the park’s highlands and Cotopaxi!

Hiking to the summit of Rumiñahui Central

Climb Imbabura volcano in Ecuador

Imbabura 

Scenically bordered by Lago San Pablo, Imbabura is a more challenging climb but worth the effort! The ascent is quite steep and won’t let you rest much but will give you stunning views over snow-peaked Cayambe and a beautiful glimpse of Imbabura’s crater. Expect a bit of rock climbing fun right before getting to the summit at 4.630 meters!

Climb an urban volcano, Rucu Pichincha

Rucu Pichincha

Where it all started. Rucu Pichincha is a must do for anyone who visits Quito. As you can ride the teleferico until 3.945 meters, it is a great hike to start with and acclimatize to the altitude. Not only will you be able to take in gorgeous views of the city but also enjoy everything the mountain has to offer steps away from the hustle and bustle. (Read more: A Guide to Hiking Rucu Pichincha Volcano)

 

Climb the three summits of Pichincha

Climb Corazon Mountain

Corazon

If you like rock climbing, this is the one for you. Corazon is special to me, as it is a volcano I had been wanting to climb for a long time before I finally got the opportunity to do so. If you drive past the mountain in the afternoon, you’ll notice these beautiful painting-like clouds always floating on the horizon, well below the mountain’s summit… Intriguing me to take a closer look. I love hiking Corazon because there’s a fair bit of rock climbing before reaching the summit. Make sure to bring a wind jacket though as it gets very windy.

Iliniza Norte in Ecuador, near Corazon and Cotopaxi volcano.

Iliniza Norte

Iliniza Norte is one of Ecuador’s highest mountain that doesn’t require technical skills to climb it. Sitting at 5.248 meters, it is an amazing acclimatization hike before going for the snow-capped mountains. I personally hiked it about a week before climbing Cotopaxi. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a beautiful view over the Laguna de los Ilinizas and over its higher, more technical peak, Iliniza Sur.

Hike Iliniza Norte before climbing Cotopaxi

Climb Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi 

Finally, the one I will never forget. Standing at 5.897 meters, Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanos on earth. As for many, climbing Cotopaxi had been a dream of mine ever since I first got to Ecuador. Its perfect triangle-shaped cone inspired many of my daydreams and keeps making me smile every time I see it standing proudly in the distance from Quito. Last December, I gave it a shot and I’m not gonna lie, it was hard but so so worth it. Fortunately, we had a perfect climate, with a starry sky as we started climbing at midnight and an unobstructed view when we got to the summit at sunrise. As you reach the summit, you start to smell sulfur as you see steam escaping the volcano’s crater. Thinking about it, I still get goosebumps.
Seeing all the mountains I had hiked preparing for it and all the other ones I still want to climb from above was a truly special experience that I will cherish forever.

This year I set out to climb Chimborazo, the closest place to space on Earth so I may come up with a part 2. Stay tuned!
I’d love to hear about your best hiking experiences around the world so please tell me about your favorite climbs in the comments section!

Safe travels,
Céline

Climb Cotopaxi in Ecuador

 

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11 Comments
  1. Reply

    cindy ladage

    September 30, 2018

    What an adventure. In Hawaii, we went up to the volcano and walked around the park. It was amazing, you are right, this is a once in a lifetime experience!

    • Reply

      wanderousheart

      October 2, 2018

      Hiking in Hawaii sounds amazing! I only went up Diamond Head but I’m sure there are many other incredible trails.

  2. Reply

    knycx.journeying

    October 1, 2018

    That’s wonderful and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The altitude is not easy to get used to but I think the landscape makes it all worth it 🙂 Glad that you have a nice time in Ecuador! @ knycx.journeying

    • Reply

      wanderousheart

      October 2, 2018

      You’re right, the views are definitely worth it! (Although I did suffer from altitude sickness at Cotopaxi despite training and acclimatizing – It seems like my body has a hard time past 5000 meters 😅) Thank you 😊

  3. Reply

    Alexander

    October 1, 2018

    O my god! I love mountainous hikes, but getting to a volcano is a completely new experience. I should add it to my bucket list.

    • Reply

      wanderousheart

      October 2, 2018

      You most definitely should! There’s something thrilling and humbling about hiking a volcano. Would love to hear your thoughts when you do it! 😊

  4. Reply

    Unta

    October 2, 2018

    Loooove your photos. The places you visited are so scenic and beautiful.

    • Reply

      wanderousheart

      October 2, 2018

      Thank you so much!! The Ecuadorian Andes are spectacular. Let me know if you ever come! We could plan a hike together hehe 😊

  5. Reply

    Rakesh kumar

    October 2, 2018

    Nice informative article, keep it up

  6. Reply

    Sania Ahmed

    October 5, 2018

    More than anything i loved the photography… the place is stunning and something unusual. Thanks for inspiring

    • Reply

      wanderousheart

      October 6, 2018

      Thank you so much!! Hope it made you want to visit the Ecuadorian Andes hehe 😊

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CÉLINE GUNTHER

Welcome to Wanderous Heart! A travel blog sharing adventures around the globe to celebrate our world's beauty and inspire you to take on your own journey.

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