The challenging terrain in the Andean Highlands offers unlimited hiking options. Though not all of us will make it to the top, here are 10 summits around Quito that can be visited in one day.

1) Quilotoa

Quilotoa is a waterfilled crater at the western side of the Andes. It was formed by the collapse of the volcano about 800 years ago. Its elevation is 3,914m and it last erupted in 1280. As it is still an active volcano, you can see bubbles form when days are clear.

The beautiful hike to go down the lake takes about 45 minutes. To go up, you will need a bit more time. If you don’t feel walking up or you are interested in an interesting cultural experience, you can rent a mule to take you to the top!

 

2) Antisana

Antisana Volcano is 50km SE of Quito. Its elevation is 5,704m and it is the fourth highest volcano in Ecuador. It last erupted in 1802.

Various walking trails are available in the Antisana National Park. Downhill biking and bird watching are also great activities to enjoy in the area.

 

3) Ilaló

Ilaló is a long extinct eroded volcano located 8km east of Quito. To its south side is the Valle de Los Chillos and to the north the Valle de Tumbaco.

The hike is an easy one, and should take about a half day. If you need to acclimatize to the altitude for other adventures, hiking Ilaló is a nice way to do it.

 

4) Fuya Fuya

Fuya Fuya is a mountain summiting at 4,200m in the paramo of Mojanda where three beautiful lakes have formed from glacial volcanoes.

From the Fuy Fuya Mountain you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the region’s glacial lakes and more.

 

5) Pululahua

Pululahua is a dormant volcano at the north of Quito. Its past eruptions have left a huge crater of 34km2, one of the largest in the world.

Pululahua means “Cloud of Water”. Indeed, foggy afternoons are typical and this is why it is often advised to hike the Reserve during the morning to enjoy a good view of the crater and the surroundings. Pululahua not only offers peaceful hiking trails, but also an interesting experience to see one of the only two craters in the world with living inhabitants.

 

6) Pasochoa

Pasochoa is an extinct volcano in the Andes at 4,200m high.

Pasochoa’s lushly vegetated crater and slopes make for an unforgettable day hike. In recent years, due to its beautiful setting and convenient location just 30 kilometers south of Quito, it has become a popular spot for day hikes from Quito.

 

7) Cayambe

Cayambe is 70km northeast of Quito and is the third highest mountain in Ecuador with an elevation of 5,790m. It last erupted in 1789.

Cayambe is a fairly accessible hike to summit that offers the challenge of moderate glacier trekking. For this reason, some prior experience is recommended.

 

8) Sincholagua

Sincholagua is an inactive volcano located 45 km southeast of Quito. With its height of 4,873m, it is the 12th highest peak in Ecuador.

Sincholagua is one or the least frequently climbed mountains because it is difficult to access. However, hikers who make the journey will be rewarded by stunning views of Cotopaxi, Antisana, and even the Amazon rainforest.

 

9) Corazón

Corazón is an inactive eroded volcano located about 30 km southwest of Quito in the Andean western slopes. Its elevation is 4,790m.

As it is an easy hiking adventure, the Corazón volcano is perfect for acclimatization. You can as well enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Cotopaxi and the neighboring mountains. The straight hiking route doesn’t require rock equipment or experience.

 

10) Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi is an active volcano about 50km south of Quito. Its elevation is 5,897m and it last erupted in August 2015.

Many nice treks and downhill biking options are possible in the park. Though it is not possible to hike to the summit at this moment due to volcanic activity.

The volcano erupted last August 14, 2015. Ecuador President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency 2 days later and officials evacuated several hundred people from nearby villages.

The weather and the altitude can be tricky, so it is always better to acclimatize before leaving for an excursion, even it is only one day.

 

Written by: Maud Petigas