Crossing Ecuador from North to South, the Andes Mountains probably offers one the best climbing experiences in the world. Recovering the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, you’ll understand why this activity is becoming so popular amongst travelers from around the world. No less than 62 summits dominate the impressive Andean landscape, with active and inactive volcanoes scattered from North to South, providing idyllic challenging but accessible climbing conditions to both experienced and novice climbers.
Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Illiniza and Cayambe volcanoes being amongst the most popular climbing destinations, there are many others volcanoes offering similar thrills in more remote areas, like the Altar and Sangay volcanoes.
Chimborazo has been registered as the furthest point from the center of the Earth, and while climbing this extinct volcano, you might come across “hieleros”, ice-carvers from local communities collecting ice to be later sold at the market. Its long climb is however recommended for more experienced climbers, along with the Cotopaxi volcano, still an active volcano. At a height of 5987m (19345 feet), the Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, and the melting snow around and inside its crater is a sign of constant heat.
The Altar, on the other side, is a more accessible destination, just as much enjoyable and impressive as its surrounding volcanoes. With a turquoise lagoon lying in its extinct crater, the views from its top are breathtaking. The Sangay volcano, located in one of the most remote area of the Andes, can be reached after several days of hiking and climbing in the wilderness, and will reward adventurers with amazing views of the Amazon rainforest.
On each of those journeys, it is definitely recommended to be accompanied by a professional guide who knows the area, the right routes to follow, and who will ensure safe acclimatization to the altitude and weather for a healthy ascent. Those guides are trained to deal with health issues such as altitude sickness, and have good volcano knowledge, especially for journeys on active volcanoes. They carry appropriate equipment and gear for a safe experience. From there, any enthusiastic visitor in good shape, fit and ready for pure adventure can put his climbing skills to the test and discover Ecuador from its mountain tops.