Guagua Pichincha Crater Hiking Trail

Cráter del volcán Guagua Pichincha

Guagua Pichincha Crater Hiking Trail

Ecuador

 Elevation:

Refuge4568m
Caldera Border4668m
Crater Floor4080m

Description

The Guagua Pichincha volcano had its last eruptive phase between 1999 and 2000; since then the volcanic activity has remained low, with some periods of greater or lesser intensity. The descent to the crater is restricted because of the risks that still exist, especially by volcanic gases and groundwater explosions that are unpredictable, in addition the ever present risk of falling rocks, so THIS TREKKING IS NOT ADVISED TO THE TOURISTS. However, when the volcanic activity is low a few researchers and intrepid explorers continue to descend to the crater bottom.

Volcanic domes inside the crater
Volcanic domes inside the crater
Crater floor
Crater floor
Fumaroles
Fumaroles

Location

Western Cordillera; 12 kilometers in a straight line west of Quito.

1) Normal Approach "Lloa": The road to LLoa is located at the south of Quito, La Mena 2 neighborhood, Angamarca street. From this place it is possible to take a bus to the town of Lloa. And from there it's possible to rent pickup trucks - taxis that sometimes arrive to the Guagua Pichincha refuge. The road is paved and in good condition until Lloa, from there cobblestoned and ballasted to the refuge, it is advisable to go in 4×4 vehicles, especially the last part.

ViaKilometersTime
La Mena 2 - Lloa10.5km17min
Lloa - Guagua Pichincha Refuge14.5km50min
Guagua Pichincha Refuge - Crater borderTrekking20min
Crater border - Crater floorTrekking1h30 a 2h
Crater floor - Crater borderTrekking2h - 3h

Recommendations

  • The descent to the crater is restricted because of the risks that still exist, especially by unpredictable volcanic gases and groundwater explosions, in addition the ever present falling rocks, so THIS TREKKING IS NOT ADVISED TO THE TOURISTS.
  • The Guagua Pichincha caldera is cloudy most of the year due to the mist coming from the coast.
  • The caldera and crater view is truly impressive on clear days.
  • The descent begins just where there are two memorials of people dead inside the volcano at the obvious place where you arrive when you ascend to the caldera edge from the refuge.
  • There is only one descent route and it's very dangerous to deviate due to the high rock walls slope.
  • The route is mostly signposted with rock pills and it's easy to follow, excepting a few short sections.
  • The first objective is to descend to the new crater viewpoint.
  • From this viewpoint the route becomes more difficult to follow.
  • The crater floor shows a lunar landscape of sand and rocks with the sparse vegetation that's been able to survive the volcanism. The volcanic domes stand out in the center of the crater, the last eruptions dome to the left and the old eruptions dome to the right. The left section is the one with the largest number of fumaroles and it's not advisable to hike closer; it's much safer to explore the right old domes where there is less gases.
  • Volcanic gases can be annoying and even dangerous if you stay too much time.
  • To leave the crater you must hike the same steep trail; people in good physical condition will require at least 2 hours to the refuge.
  • Bring enough liquid to hydrate.
  • Guagua Pichincha 1999 eruption
  • Guagua Pichincha crater dangers for hikers

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