Quito’s closest volcano is Pichincha. Our first day in Quito, we hiked to the Rucu Pichincha summit. We started the hike from the top of the TelefériQo, which is just a short taxi ride from central Quito. The TelefériQo is a gondola that takes passengers on a 1.5 mile ride up Volcán Pichincha.
From the gondola, there are panoramic views of Quito, and you can see how the city sits in a valley, surrounded by mountains.
At the top of the gondola, we took a photo together before starting the hike up to the volcano’s summit.
From the gondola, the hike starts at 13,287 feet elevation. From there, you climb over 2,000 feet to reach the summit (15,407 feet). The first half of the trek has nice rolling hills, but what makes it difficult is the altitude.
As you get closer to the summit, the trail gets steeper, and in the final stretch, you are scrambling up rocks to reach the summit.
From the top, we had excellent views of the surrounding volcanoes, including the snow capped Volcán Antisana.
On the way back down, we scrambled down some rocks and then slid down the sandy part of the volcano. It was easier (and more fun) than trying to walk down, since it was so steep.
The hike took us almost 5 hours round trip. We’ve hiked up 14ers (14,000 ft+ summits) in Colorado, but this was the first time either of us had hiked to a summit over 15,000 feet. The best word to describe the experience…BREATHTAKING!