Cayambe and Chimborazo Tours
The Chimborazo volcano is Ecuador’s highest. Located in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes, it may not be the highest mountain in the world, but its summit is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s centre. Chimborazo dominates the ‘Avenida de los Volcanes’, lying at the southwest end of the main Ecuadorian volcanic arc, some 150 km outside of the capital, Quito. The top of the volcano is covered in glaciers and consists of four summits, the highest being Veintimilla, peaking at 6,268 meters above sea level.
Climbing Chimborazo is certainly a significant undertaking, but one that is “just within reach of normal human beings, both physically and financially”, according to Guardian travel journalist, Kevin Rushby. Acclimatisation is essential for all high altitude climbs, and climbing the Cayambe volcano offers a great warm-up option for Chimborazo, if not literally, and some absolutely stunning views from the summit. Cayambe boasts Ecuador’s third highest peak, at 5,790 metres, and probably the country’s most beautiful glacier.
We offer add-on tours to both Chimborazo and Cayambe volcanoes, which include acclimatisation hikes, full equipment hire and certified guides. You can read all about Kevin’s attempt at reaching both volcano summits, in his article Chimborazo peak, Ecuador: the closest place to space on Earth, published in the Guardian. Kevin travelled with us in December 2015.
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Chimborazo Summit Excursion
Day 1: Travel to Riobamba and the community of Mechahuasca
Pick-up at your hotel in Quito at around 9:00 am to go and prepare all necessary equipment and meet your certified guides. You will travel with them to Riobamba and the community of Mechahuasca (approx. 4-5 hours), located between Chimborazo and Carihuairazo volcanoes. We will stop for lunch on the way, and to stock up on supplies for dinner and breakfast the next day. Upon arrival, we will prepare dinner at a refuge within the community. The accommodation within the community is clean but very basic.
Day 2: Carihuairazo acclimatisation hike
We will wake up very early in the morning (at around 3:00 am!) and begin hiking towards Carihuairazo, continuing to the summit (5018 metres). We’ll reach the summit after about 4 hours, then after a little time to rest, we will begin our descent (approx. 3 hours) and return to Mechahuasca. Then we will depart for the town of Riobamba, where we will have lunch. Overnight we will stay in simple but comfortable accommodation in Riobamba.
Day 3: Chimborazo climbing tour
After a leisurely start to the day, we’ll leave our hotel at about 10:00 am and travel to the first refuge of the Chimborazo volcano (around 4800m), which will take about an hour. After lunch, there will be some time to rest. Dinner will be served in the evening, and there will then be a little more time to relax! Before midnight, we will prepare our equipment and have tea. We will then begin our ascent to the peak (6268m), where we can enjoy spectacular views of the Andes mountain range (weather permitting). The ascent usually takes around 7 hours but this can vary considerably.
Day 4: Chimborazo Summit Tour
After some time to enjoy the views from the peak of Chimborazo, we will descend to the refuge and have breakfast. The descent usually takes around 4 hours, but again this can vary considerably. After breakfast, we will travel back to Quito, where we should arrive by early afternoon. Back in the capital, we can arrange a transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or to a local hotel for the night.
Climbing the Cayambe Volcano
Day 1: Acclimatisation day: Pichincha volcano
Pick-up from your hotel at 8:45 am for the short trip to Quito’s Teleferico. On the way up to 4100 metres, you’ll be able to enjoy great views of Quito and the surrounding volcanoes. At the top, we will begin a hike of about 1.5 hours towards the Pichincha volcano, where we’ll rest and enjoy the view for about half an hour, before returning to the Teleferico. In the afternoon, there’s an optional visit to the Guayasamin Museum or you can explore the city at your own pace or just relax! You will spend the night in a comfortable hotel in Quito.
Day 2: Cayambe Volcano Climb
After breakfast, pick-up at your hotel at around 9:00 am to go and arrange all the necessary equipment for our climb. We will then depart Quito for the town of Cayambe, where we’ll have lunch at a small restaurant before proceeding to the Cayambe refuge (4600 m). At the refuge, we will have the afternoon to relax and practice with our equipment on the glacier. We will then have dinner, followed by a free evening at the refuge, before departing to begin our climb for the summit (5790 m) at about 11:00 pm. The ascent usually takes between 6 and 7 hours but this can vary considerably.
Day 3: Cayambe descent
After our attempt at reaching the summit of Cayambe, we will descend back to the refuge and have breakfast. The descent usually takes around 3 hours, but again this does vary. After breakfast, we will return to Quito where we can arrange a transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or to a local hotel for the night.