Atacazo – Ninahuilca Trail

Ninahuilca Chico

Ninahuilca Viewpoint Trail

Ecuador

 Elevation:

Atacazo antennas4108m
Highest pass4145m
Ninahuilca Viewpoint3992m

Description

The Atacazo volcano with its 4457 meters is completely visible from the south of the Quito. It appears as extensive paramo fields that end up at the rocky peaks which line its old caldera. Few adventurers know that towards the volcano west side rise the volcanic domes of the Ninahuilca surrounded by an exhuberant cloud forest. The Ninahuilca Grande as a sloping pyramid covered with vegetation, very difficult to access and recommended only for those who love the fog and dominate the machete skills. Next to it, the Ninahuilca Chico appears as a truncated pyramid painted with sloping sand channels, the result of the last eruption approximately 2300 years ago, all the dome covered by vegetation at its base. The Atacazo Lagoon is a small seasonal lagoon resting at the foot of the Ninahuilca Chico. The Atacazo - Ninahuilca approach trekking starts at the antennas in the Atacazo northern section, at the end of the vehicular road, and heads south west by ringing under the rocks until it reaches the edge of the almost wild paramo from where you have spectacular views of the Ninahuilca domes.

Pichinchas from the Atacazo
Pichinchas from the Atacazo
Trail to the Ninahuilca
Trail to the Ninahuilca
Ninahuilca Grande
Ninahuilca Grande

Location

Western Cordillera; 8 kilometers in a straight line west of Quito (south Quito).

1) Guamaní Approach: At the southern end of Quito, known as Guamaní, intersection between Avenida Antonio José de Sucre and Calle S48, you must take the western direction until you find calle Camilo Orejuela. Continue along the Camilo Orejuela street in the same direction up the foothills of the Atacazo, then this road becomes ballasted to reach the mountain base. Already in the paramo, the Comuna Espejo is crossed and you can find a path on the left (south) that reaches the Atacazo antennas.

ViaKilometersTime
Huamaní Approach:
South of Quito – Antennas Road30min9.5km
Antennas Road – Antennas 115min4km
Antennas 1 - Ninahuilca Viewpoint2 - 3h3,9km
Ninahuilca Viewpoint - Antennas 12 - 3h3.9km

Recommendations

  • The Ninahuilca Approach Trekking is very attractive and rarely visited.
  • The trail starts on the antennas at the Atacazo north face following the path which leads to the Atacazo summit (currently covered with antennas).
  • Halfway to the Atacazo summit you should see a more or less marked path that goes to the right along the Atacazo paramo slopes under the rocks, it goes to the Atacazo caldera lower section and to the Ninahuilca.
  • Following the path to the southwestern direction it end up reaching the Atacazo caldera which opens to the west, there is a small stream with very clean water, from this point the path although marked is more difficult to follow .
  • If you continue in the same south-western direction, following an increasingly difficult paramo, the path will end up at the place known as the "Mirador del Ninahuilca" or Ninahuilca Viewpoint.
  • The coast fog can hinder the Ninahuilca and the route orientation.
  • The hiking is relatively short in distance although large in picturesque natural landscapes.
  • Very few people have reached the Ninahuilca Chico summit and surely no one the Ninahuilca Grande.
  • You can reach the Ninahuilca Chico summit following the same path going on an almost disappeared path from the viewpoint to the Atacazo Lagoon, crossing a mountain forest that requires breaking through with a machete. The ascent to the summit is very steep between bushes, sand and rocks until reaching the approximately 3780m highest point.

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