An Accessible Hike From Quito’s Cable Car

Just north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, the Pichincha Volcano towers above the city and last covered it with ashes in 1999. It gave its name to the Province of Pichincha that Quito belongs to.

The volcano actually summits in two main peaks: the Rucu Pichincha (“Old Pichincha” in Quechua) at 4698 m and the Guagua Pichincha (“Child Pichincha”)at 4784 m. It is the smaller Rucu Pichincha that I climbed, as it is directly accessible from Quito’s Cable Car.

I had landed in Quito only 2 days before from Europe, as a result my acclimatation to the altitude wasn’t the best. And I did feel it very much while climbing! I am an experienced hiker but honestly I can say that I really suffered on this mountain.

At this altitude, each step is a considerable effort and the trek feels endless. Nevertheless, the path is mostly clear and easy to follow, except at some small rock climbing parts and near the top. But it’s a popular trail and chances are that you will always come across another hiker to show you the way. The rock climbing can be challenging for less fit persons and those who easily suffer from vertigo. And near the top it gets really steep.

I did this hike in April, and the weather was fine as there was no rain at all, but the top of the volcano got totally engulfed in the clouds quite early in the day, which means I didn’t get to see anything from the top. If you climb the mountain is, say, August, you might get a better chance of reaching the top and enjoy a great view with no or fewer clouds.

On the other hand, the clouds provide a really special and mysterious atmosphere that I like, and at least I can really say that I touched the sky!

Trek Map

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