The Chimborazo Volcano at 20,548 ft in elevation is the closest peak to the sun and the furthest point from the center of the earth and it is the highest volcano in Ecuador. The volcano has a diameter of 20 km. Without a doubt visiting the Chimborazo is one of the best things you can do in the highlands Ecuador. In this guide we share everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Chimborazo volcano from how to get there, what you have to pack, and of course what you can do in the Chimborazo volcano.
For the Indigenous Ecuadorians, the Chimborazo volcano is a sacred mountain of great importance due to its size. It is also home to a vast number of wildlife including more than 7,000 vicuñas, hummingbirds, condors, pumas, deer, wolves, marsupial rats, rabbits, and camelids. The reserve has eight types of ecosystems which makes the Chimborazo Wildlife Production Reserve something very special.
Where is the Chimborazo volcano located?
The Chimborazo volcano is located in its namesake province, within the Chimborazo Wildlife Production Reserve in the central Andes, northwest of the city of Riobamba. Due to its beauty, it is one of the most visited tourist places in Ecuador. Riobamba is just a one hour drive by car (45 km) and the volcano is only three hours from Quito (150 km) and four hours from Guayaquil (145 km).
When is the best time to visit the Chimborazo volcano?
The best time of day to visit the Chimborazo is between 11AM and 2PM, since these hours have the most sun. Later in the day there is often a thick fog that limits the view of the volcano.
What you should know before visiting the Chimborazo volcano:
- The Chimborazo Wildlife Production Reserve has two refuges: the Carrel refuge (15,895 ft) and the Whymper refuge (16,542 ft). You can get to the first refuge by walking or by car, and the second by just hiking. Keep in mind that you have to ascend from 15,895 ft above sea level to 16,542 ft to reach the second refuge, over a distance of half a mile. It sounds easy but with the elevation this hike can take about an hour.
- The Hermanos Carrel Refuge is located near the parking area of the Chimborazo Fauna Production Reserve. Here you can buy drinks and food as well as handicrafts and observe condors and vicuñas among its fauna.
- The Whymper Refuge is only half a mile from the first refuge but with at an elevation of 16,542 ft above sea level. You can reach the refuge through the path which continues on 500 meters more (about 15 minutes walking) until you reach the Cóndor Cocha lagoon, which is at 16,732 ft.
- The shelters are open daily from 8AM to 4PM, although remain closed due to the pandemic.
- It is very important that you remember the Chimborazo volcano is at a high altitude and has low temperatures, so it is recommended to hire a professional hiking guide, who provides indications and safety measures to be able to ascend to the peak of the volcano safely.
- The upper part of the Chimborazo volcano is completely covered by glaciers.
- Within the Chimborazo Fauna Production Reserve you have the opportunity to see vicuñas, llamas, and alpacas.
- The indigenous people of the area refer to Chimborazo by the nickname “taita” (which means dad).
- Within the reserve there is also the Carihuairazo volcano with its peak elevation of 16,372 ft.
- The reserve has eight types of ecosystems and several hiking trails.
- The hummingbird and the condor are the most common birds found in the reserve.
How to get to the Chimborazo volcano?
- From Riobamba: To get to Chimborazo by public transportation take the bus that goes to Guaranda and get off at the entrance that leads to Chimborazo. From kilometer 45 of the Riobamba – Guaranda road, go to the tourist services center “El Arenal”. From there you can go up 8 kilometers by car or on foot until you reach the first “Carrel” refuge and continue walking until the “Whymper” refuge.
What is the climate of the Chimborazo volcano?
The climate of the Chimborazo volcano has an average temperature range from 32°F to 54°F. This area is known for its cold Andean climate.
How much does it cost to visit Chimborazo?
The entrance to the Chimborazo volcano refuges is free, where you can also stay and camp if you wish. You can go up to the first shelter by car or on foot after registering. If you want to climb to the top of the volcano which requires a guide, the cost is approximately $550 USD for one person or $290 USD per person if there are more than one climbing together.
Before visiting the Chimborazo Wildlife Production Reserve you must register and leave your personal information at the entrance.
How long does it take to climb the Chimborazo?
It takes approximately 12 hours to hike to the peak of Chimborazo volcano from the Carrel Refuge. To reach the peak you must have at least one glacier training session and sleep one night in the Carrel refuge (4800m).
In order to climb the Chimborazo volcano you must acclimate first. It is best to stay in the area near the Chimborazo or Carihuairazo volcanoes. It is recommended to at least stay one night in advance of your hike and take short walks to acclimate.
How far can you see from the top of the Chimborazo volcano?
From the top of the Chimborazo volcano you can see the Avenue of the Volcanoes and on clear days you can see the Chimborazo summit from Guayaquil, which is 142 km away.
Packing list to hike the Chimborazo volcano?
- High mountain equipment
- Comfortable shoes
- 2 pairs of socks
- Waterproof suit
- Wool cap
- Nylon rope
- Sleeping bag
What to pack to climb to the first refuge of the Chimborazo volcano?
- Comfortable shoes
- Pair of socks
- Wool cap
What can you do at the Chimborazo volcano?
- Visit its glaciers and contemplate its beautiful landscapes that people like Alexander von Humboldt, Edward Whymper, Hans Meyer and Nicolás Martínez fell in love with.
- Enjoy adventure sports including mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking and hiking.
- Visit the Machay Temple with a guide, where the Puruhaes paid tribute to the god Taita Chimborazo.
- In the city of Guano, near the volcano, you can go rock climbing.
- You can go hiking in the Chimborazo area, including popular hikes: The ice collectors walk, the old Camino Real, to the vicuña area, the flora and fauna observation within the reserve, the hiking route Polylepis and Machay Temple. Guide is needed to get to the Machay temple, to the Wimper spiers and to get to the top.
- Without the need for a guide, you can trek to the reserve lagoon.
Where to Sleep in Chimborazo?
We stayed at the Hosteria La Andaluza and we loved it. It is about an hour from the entrance to the national park but you get fantastic views of the volcano from the property. The Hostería La Andaluza is an oasis getaway at the base of the Chimborazo volcano. You can enjoy a cultural, historical, and gastronomic adventure in this 18th century hacienda turned boutique hotel. You can enjoy some amazing experiences such as feed carrots to the rabbits in the patio, take a guided tour of the Hacienda to learn it’s history and about the collections now on display, relax in the Turkish bath, sauna, and spa, stay in the presidential suite, where Simon Bolivar once stayed, with views of Chimborazo from the private jacuzzi, learn how to milk a cow and taste the fresh warm milk and taste fresh local cuisine at Restaurante El Establo and sip on delicious cocktails from El Portal bar.
The best place to spend the night near the Chimborazo volcano is at the Chimborazo Lodge or camping.