Andes

Andes

NATURE AND ADVENTURE

Ecuador is an adventure park, one of the ideal countries to practice extreme sports or go out to see nature, always full of surprises.

We are at the foot of the Andes, one of the most important mountain ranges in the world, with unmatched landscapes. We have mountains that can be up to 6000 meters high. Ecuador is a country full of surprises. We have snowy and rugged slopes to climb; primary landscape jungles that remain intact since the beginning of time, places for hiking, bird watching, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking with rushing rivers that descend vertiginously to the different valleys, offering one of the best places in the world for rafting and kayaking.

Ecuador is an exciting country, and Quito is the starting point to of all these excellent destinations to put your adrenaline to the test.

ANTISANA

Antisana is the closest snow-capped mountain to Quito. However, it is the least known and visited. You will discover a splendid hidden place where condors sleep and tapirs and paramo wolves roam free.

The shy volcano of Quito

It rises about 50 kilometers from the city, over the Cordillera Oriental, between the Cayambe and Cotopaxi volcanoes. Unlike its neighbors, the Antisana is almost never seen from Quito.

In Antisana there are humid and dry ecosystems, forests and swamps with wild fauna as striking as the mountain tapir and beautiful flora represented by the Chuquirahua, the national flower of Ecuador. You can visit the house where Humboldt stayed at the beginning of the 19th century, in the old hacienda known as “La Ovejería” where, decades later, the Spanish troops would plan their final assault on Quito, for the deed of the Independence, in 1822.

Several lakes are part of the landscape, including Santa Lucía, Tipo Pugro, Muerto Punto and Secas. Very close to Píntag, freshwater trout are fed by the Isco river. This river and many of the lakes were created by the lava flow after different eruptions. Today this river is considered as natural heritage. It is the house, where one of the most important communities of Andean condors spend the night.

Once inside the reserve, you can choose various walking routes. The most recognized is the Condor Trek, a multi-day route that takes you from Lake Papallacta to the Antisana Reserve, passing through the beautiful Santa Lucia lagoon. For the less adventurous, visiting restaurants near the reserve and trying the excellent fresh trout caught in the nearby lakes, is a delicious experience. The sightings of curiquingues, bandurrias, zambullidores and ducks in the La Mica lagoon and the path that leads to it, are also very special. On clear days, while taking energizing walks to the different viewpoints, you can discover the majestic volcano and its surroundings, a view difficult to forget!

Píntag town

Píntag, with its beautiful church and square made of stone, is the portal to the majestic eastern Andes mountain range, from where you can explore not only Antisana, but also the Sincholagua volcano. The town is known for an enigmatic 100-meter tunnel, where scary stories were born, and for its striking houses between crops and fields of corn.

CAYAMBE-COCA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE

Fabulous natural environments, await you in this unique area of the country: volcanoes, paramo, jungle, trekking, rafting and climbing adventures, in one of the doors to the Amazon and the most emblematic waterfall in Ecuador.
Getting to one of the entrances to the Cayambe-Coca reserve takes around an hour from Quito by car but exploring its beauty could take days or weeks. With its volcanic axis, the great snow-capped Cayambe, and several neighboring peaks such as the Sarahurco, the sculptural Cerro Puntas and the Reventador volcano, one of the five currently active volcanoes in Ecuador, the landscapes you will find are overwhelming, and this is only the beginning of the adventures that await you. With its hot springs in Papallacta, its climbing walls in Cuyuja, its beautiful paramo lagoons for trout fishing, its first-class rivers for rafting that make Ecuador one of the destination countries for this sport, a memorable Cascada de San Rafael, the most impressive waterfall in the country, Cayambe-Coca is a portal to a unique world of discovery and adventure.
You can go up to the pajonal or marshy paramo, in the Papallacta area, or go down to the Amazon foothills in cloud forests and subtropical branches and eastern slopes around Baeza. It is one of the best places in the world for bird watching and one of the wildest places in the country, with two of the most representative trekking routes: the start of the Condor Trek towards the Cotopaxi volcano and the trek of several days between Oyacachi and El Chaco.

GUAGUA PICHINCHA

Quito is surrounded by a set of mountains, which is unique in the world. A getaway more than 4,000 meters above sea level is the door to adventure, recreation and contact with nature.

The Pichincha name is given to two volcanoes (Rucu and Guagua Pichincha) but there are other peaks (Cruz Loma, Cerro Ungüí, Padre Encantado and Cóndor Huachana. This last one, is believed to affect the climate of Quito). One of the most accessible routes to the mountains is to get to Cruz Loma by cable car (Telefériqo). The challenge, of course, is in the trek to the top of the Rucu (4694 masl). With a little more time and a four-hour walk, you will arrive at the Guagua (4784 masl). In total, it is about 8 hours from Cruz Loma.

Guagua Pichincha from Lloa

The small town of Lloa is located a very short distance from the smoking crater of the Guagua Pichincha, which, in 1999, created a fabulous mushroom-shaped ash cloud over the city’s clear sky. It is not surprising, therefore, that the townspeople feel compelled to ask for protection from their patron saint: La Virgen del Volcán. They carry out a procession that arrives at the cave where the Virgin statue has been placed. They pray and promise her devotion, and despite the various eruptions, we have to say, Lloa has never been significantly affected. It is a quiet little town, surrounded by its plaza and church.

Although it is not allowed to descend to the crater anymore, you can approach a little bit, to observe the magnificence of this mountain (a 2-hour walk). From the refuge, it is possible to turn right and continue on another path (6 hours), walking through an intermediate mountain (the Enchanted Father) until reaching Cruz Loma, where the Quito cable car (Telefériqo) is located. The two options are great.

HIKING FROM QUITO

Walking in primary nature, intact, full of life, is a privilege of Quito residents. Come with us to Quito and walk towards wild routes.
You can walk through a cloud forest full of lianas, an indomitable paramo, climb a mountain or cross a temperate grove, no more than 30 minutes by car from the city center. Short, long, half-day, multi-day hikes, difficult, easy, moderate … for all tastes!
Among others, we recommend:

Condor Trek: One hour from Quito, in Papallacta. It is one of the most traveled treks in the country and crosses the paramo surrounding several volcanoes such as Antisana, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi. It is a walk that can last several days.

Yanacocha: Arriving takes just an hour, but due to its location on the hidden slopes of the Pichincha, it reveals a unique experience: in the mist, crossing a fabulous short forest that seems from an enchanted tale, facing the abysses of the heights.

Chaquiñán: A short distance from Quito, in Cumbayá, where the old railroad used to be. It is a beautiful road, which reaches the town of Puembo, with a very pleasant climate.

Lloa to Mindo: It is a journey that can be done in two days, descending 60 km from the height of Lloa, very close to the Guagua Pichincha crater, to the warm area of Mindo: a descent of 1,600 meters!

Tumbaco – top of Ilaló – La MercedIn just one day you can reach the top of Ilaló and cross from the valley of Tumbaco to that of Los Chillos, which surround the city. It is a fabulous, easy and accessible experience for a mountain in the Andes.

Pichincha: The first step is to use the Telefériqo (Quito cable car), and then walk, with caution, due to its height. It reaches 4000 meters above sea level. Once you get used to the altitude, you can go to the Rucu Pichincha and cross to its sister crater, the Guagua Pichincha.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Mountains and mountains by bicycle … that’s Quito. That is Ecuador

Quito is an ideal destination for mountain biking, not only for its wonderful landscapes, uneven terrain, places to go up and down through all types of surface, but also because there are options to experience nature tourism, where through small trails you can cross the moor, jungle or temperate areas with wonderful mountain landscapes … a whole universe to discover.

Quito is a coveted destination for mountain biking. These are some of the options:

Urban cycling

At first glance, Quito seems like a barred destination for an amateur cyclist, being a city full of hills and slopes, but in reality, the flat terrain of the city is ideal for riding. Thanks to the growing interest in the benefits of using a bicycle, every Sunday there is a Ciclopaseo (Ridecycle) that crosses the city from north to south. Families and tourists enjoy this sport, others run and some simply walk. For those who want to exercise and train, Quito has many parks to try different terrains and of course, steep slopes to train!

SOME OF THE BEST "MOUNTAIN BIKE" ROUTES

El Chaquiñan: This route takes the old train track from the beautiful Cumbayá park to the friendly town of Puembo. For some people it is simply a beginers route, and in the flattest sectors it is, but there are very demanding slopes around the Chiche river canyon, which test any cyclist.

Hidden Route / Malchinguí: There are small towns, lost in time, on the old route to Otavalo with an interesting detour to Tabacundo through the town of Malchinguí, an excellent bike route, certified by expert local pilots.

Lloa-Palmira: Starts at the slopes of the steaming Guagua Pichincha volcano. This mountain route begins with a brief descent until you reach the Cinto River. The road eventually reaches the town of Mindo, in a subtropical area near Quito. With a qualified guide you can carry out this challenge.

Downhill Pichincha: Take the cable car/ Telefériqo (they let you take your bike) to Cruz Loma, over the Pichincha volcano and make a fabulous downhill towards the city, which is located 1200 meters below.

Downhill Yanacocha to Nono and Ecorruta El Quinde: Take a van to the Yanacocha reserve for a very exciting downhill. Then you can get to the beautiful eco-route around the Alambí River, making a brief stop in the pretty town of Nono, where you can eat some delicious empanadas.

Pululahua: Descend from the viewpoint of the crater to the heart of one of the few inhabited craters in the world or discover the magic of the well-known El Viento route in the direction of the small Nieblí town.

Selva Alegre – Cotopaxi: Through a beautiful cobbled path bordering a lahar of the great Cotopaxi volcano, you can reach the entrance to the Cotopaxi National Park and ride around its slopes at your will: a unique experience on wheels!

SHORT PLANNER

If you have a morning:

  • Teleférico de Quito
  • Guanguiltagua Metropolitan Park
  • Itchimbía Park

If you have a day:

  • Hiking in the Guagua Pichincha
  • Antisana + Laguna de la Mica + Peñón del Isco
  • Cayambe National Park - Coca

If you have two or three days:

  • Trek of the Condor + Papallacta Hot Springs
  • Lloa - Mindo walk
  • Chaquiñán + Tumbaco + Ilaló + La Merced
  • +593 2993300
  • mercadeo@quito-turismo.gob.ec
  • Passage Oe3 Río Amazonas N51-20 & Street N50B
    Old airport, Quito

© All rights reserved

Quito Turismo - Visit Quito

  • +593 2993300
  • mercadeo@quito-turismo.gob.ec
  • Passage Oe3 Río Amazonas N51-20 & Street N50B
    Old airport, Quito

© All rights reserved

Quito Turismo - Visit Quito