Thinking about summiting a volcano in Ecuador? In this post, you’ll learn about Antisana Volcano – Ecuador’s 4th highest volcano at 5,704 metres. Antisana Volcano is located 50 km southeast of Quito.
What brings people from many parts of the world to Ecuador?
Why do they choose to leave their home countries and visit Ecuador – a small country with a population of 16.4 million people?
In some cases expats choose to immigrate to Ecuador because of the warm climate all year around. Others choose to because of the cheap medical services. And a few mention their main reason to immigrate is the diversity of the country and the open-minded people.
In my case, the reason was love.
To be honest it was not just one … but several.
Summiting Ecuador’s Antisana Volcano
The first one I want to write about maybe the most beautiful girl in Ecuador. She is high, has a crown, and is very hard to get. Many men from all over the world have fallen in love and tried to conquer her. The first man that succeeded was a 40 years old English man named Edward Whymper in 1880.
Aerial Footage Above Antisana Volcano
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Antisana is a majestic huge active, snow capped stratovolcano with the altitude of 5,704 m. It is the 4th highest volcano in Ecuador and has 3 summits.
The last big eruption registered was in 1802. It stands in the middle of northern Andean range and surrounded by the volcanoes of Shincholagua, Cotopaxi, Cayambe and a beautiful cloud forest reserve.
From the top, you can observe the Mica & Limpiopungo lagoons, Quito, and most of the other giant volcanoes in the country. It considered one of the most technical climbs in the country and requires, glacier experience, acclimatization to low oxygen, and preparation to challenging physical conditions.
Getting to Antisana Volcano
The Antisana Reserve is about 65 km southeast of Quito. To access the reserve, you need to drive 2 hours from Quito to a village called Pintaj and from there it is another 2 hours of driving until you reach the camping area at the altitude of 4500m.
The paramo of Antisana is pure and uncontaminated. Apart from the majestic volcano you can observe wildlife like condors, rabbits, and wild horses.
The old lava flow is huge and impressive. It start from the base of the mountain toward west to the valley of Sangolqui. The camping area is without any artificial light and at a clear night you can observe a magical ocean of stars.
The volcano has a crater, which is covered by snow and ice but still active. A clear evidence of its activity is the thermals of Papallacta and the strong smell of sulfur that exists in all the streams that flow in the park.
From the campsite, it is a long hour hike to the entrance of the glacier. It is a small path over ash and lava stones that pass small glacier lagoon. The glacier is a maze of crevasses mostly across the big valley direction east to west.
As you climb higher, the bigger and deeper the crevasses are. The most “easy” peak to climb is the northern summit (which is also the highest). The way to the top is crossing from south to north toward the saddle and then heading another 200 meter of elevation toward the west.
How long does it take to summit Antisana Volcano? The way to the summit takes between 6-8 hours and another 3 hours down.
It was emotional moment of peace and satisfaction when I reached the summit and saw big white glaciers, green valleys, enormous cloud forest, blue lagoons and the rest of the exciting topography of the Andes below me.
In order to climb that high you need to prepare yourself with acclimatization process and to prepare yourself for long endurance physical activity. It is also recommended to have a medical check for heart function and use a specific acclimatization diet 3-4 weeks before the climb.
Antisana is one of the wildest free and beautiful spots in Ecuador.
There are only few recommended tour operator in Quito that specialized in this kind of expeditions. One of them is Gulliver Expeditions where I have been working for the past 12 years.
I invite everyone who loves adventure and challenges to try to conquer its summit and enjoy the beauty of one of the most untouched reserve in the country.
About the Author: Eran Hayoun is a free spirit who spent the last 16 years exploring and making adventure expeditions in Ecuador and south America. Born in Israel and after 6 years of extensive and stressful army service moved to South America to learn about new cultures, and develop sustainable and ecological projects.
Are you planning to summit Antisana? Ask Eran your questions below. Have you climbed Antisana? Please share your tips and experiences in the comment section.