Ecuador: Vulcanoes

The biggest adventure of my life

The Tungurahua brought my to my limits. Climbing the 5,023 meters high volcano is just for real hiking freaks.

A swing in front of the Tungurahua

During my stay in Banos in Ecuador somebody told me, that there is a volcano you can climb. Sounded perfect for me. But I couldn’t imagine, that it will be the hardest challenges I’ve ever had. The Tungurahua is 5,023 meters high and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. To climb up took my seven hours. The adventure started at five o’clock in the morning.

A pick-up is driving me to the starting point in 3,000 meters heigh. There I meet my guide, who is not speaking English, just Spanish (and I don’t speak Spanish). We are starting in the dark and in the rainforest. The first three hours we are walking steep upstairs through forest and mud. After this we arrive at a small hut. The next section is characterized by bush and colorful flowers.

One hour later the arid zone begins. We see just some small plants. One hour later there are no plants and animals anymore. No creature can survive in this area. Lava stones and lava sand is everywhere. The wind is freezing, sand is flying in my face. The rain becomes to ice, everything is wet. My guide is wearing a helmet, because of falling stones from the top. We need three more hours to the top of the volcano. It’s snowing. Lava sand is covering the ice. On one side of the crater there are ice crystals everywhere. Hot air is coming out between the stones. The last meters I have to climb by using hands and feet together. When I arrive on the top, I feel overwhelmed.

Such an active volcano ist incredible beautiful but also bad. The volcano is spending life, but it is also an hostile area. After seven hours climbing up I have to climb down for four hours. My knees are burning. My body is a mess. In the evening I take a foot massage and fall in my bed. I’m done for the next two days.

Short break during the climb
Ice crystals on the top of the crater

If you are looking for another volcano: visit Cotopaxi near Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Of course there is more in Ecuador than just volcanoes. The country is beautiful and green. There are waterfalls, rainforest and mountains.

Landscape of Ecuador
The vulcano Cotopaxi

If you are looking for a hiking adventure, also read about hiking in Peru:

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