Ecuador Trekking and Hiking Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to be an experienced mountaineer to climb a mountain?
Mountain climbing is mostly thought as an extreme and dangerous sport for the few passionate and experienced, but it can be accomplished by anyone with the desire and will. Mountain climbing is an exhilarating and safe activity if done right and supervised by experts. It is a sport that requires strength and endurance, but above all a strong will to accomplish each goal and responsibility to do it safe and right. Mountaineering is an incredible and rewarding adventure; it helps you discover beautiful landscapes and views, and allows you to see the world in a more emotional way. It creates a space for personal growth and discovery of one’s limits.
Why is acclimatization important prior to hiking in higher altitudes?
Acclimatization is very important and should be taken seriously. Even if you are fit and practice any physical activity, it is important to follow the process for a successful climb. Acclimatization means gradually letting your body adjust to the lack of oxygen in the altitude. We suggest hiking from less to more altitude and giving your body days of rest in between (at a reasonable altitude).
What would be a good plan for acclimatization?
A good plan may include hiking 3-5 mountains (depending on your physical condition) prior attempting Cotopaxi, Cayambe or Antisana. For example a good start would be hiking Pasochoa (4,200m / 13,800ft), Ruco Pichincha (4,698m / 15,413ft), Corazon (4,790m / 15,720ft), Rumiñahui (4,721m / 15,489 ft.), Imbabura (4,630m / 15,190 ft), Iliniza Norte (5,126m / 16,818ft).
For climbing Chimborazo (6,310m / 20,702) it is highly recommended to climb Cotopaxi or Cayambe first.
Our team at Cumbre Tours can put together a customized itinerary for you depending on your needs, with the best expert guides in the field.
What equipment is required for high mountain climbing and trekking?
Please see our recommended packing list link in the Tips section of our website.
Should I bring my own equipment or is there a place to rent in Ecuador?
You may bring your own equipment if you have it or we can assist you for renting in Ecuador. There are a couple of good renting shops in Quito. We can assist you!
What is the weather like in medium and high mountains in Ecuador?
In medium mountains you can have a sunny morning and suddenly clouds come in with rain. Temperatures vary from 10°C-15°C in medium mountains at daylight. Always dress in layers and have ready rain gear to make your trek comfortable.
In high altitude mountains temperatures can drop below 0°C by night and during the climb. Hikes in the Ecuadorian snowcapped mountains start before midnight so dressing in layers and warm mountain gear is highly recommended. If the weather is not in a good condition, your guide will always evaluate and advise the decisions during the ascent, safety is our main philosophy.
Are there mountain refuges?
Yes, completely renovated mountain refuges are available at Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Chimborazo. For Antisana, camping is the only option. Mountain refuges are basic but offer the services you require for climbing: bed (to sleep with your own sleeping bag), meals, and bathrooms. Pre-booking is required and included in our hiking packages.
Can I climb solo?
High mountains such as Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Antisana, Chimborazo require that you climb with an experienced and licensed guide (National Park rules). For medium altitude mountains it is highly recommended to hire a guide as well because when it gets foggy, it can be easy to get lost. We work with the best professional and accredited guides.
What should I eat and drink the days prior climbing a high mountain?
We recommend eating light and healthy. Carbohydrates are very important for the reserves of energy in the body, so pasta, rice, potatoes, fresh fruits are the best sources. Try not to eat red meat the days before the climb because it takes time to digest and in altitude, digestion gets much slower and difficult. Drink 2-3 litters of water daily, stay hydrated! All of our meals included in our tours are planned according to these best practices.
If I don´t want to climb a high mountain, are there any options for trekking?
Yes! Ecuadorian Andes are a paradise for trekking and enjoying nature in the moorlands. For example some nice places for trekking include Cuicocha lagoon, Pasochoa surroundings, Cotopaxi National Park, Antisana reserve, and much more! We can put together amazing lodge to lodge trekkings to see the best of our mountains.