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Established in 1979, Sangay National Park covers parts of the Ecuadorian provinces of Chimborazo, Morona Santiago and Tungurahua. Within its boundaries are three volcanoes, two of them still active.
The first, the breathtaking Tungurahua Volcano (reaching 16,457 feet, or 5,016 m), has shown increased activity during the past year or so. The second, the Sangay Volcano (17,159 feet, or 5,230 m), is situated at the edge of the rainforest and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The third is the El Altar Volcano (17,454 feet, or 5,320 m), which has been extinct for ages.
This national park stretches from the eastern cordillera of the Andes to the jungle, enchanting visitors with its fantastic variety of landscapes and climatic zones. The subtropical rainforest merges into cloud forest, where it is followed by Andean grasslands and finally ends with the permanent snow line and ice of the glaciers of 5,000-meter-high mountains.
Sangay Volcano is famous because it's one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In fact, its mood can change hourly. Although it hasn’t had a major eruption recently, Ecuadorians keep a watchful eye on its activity as volcanic rock, ash, and smoke are constantly spewing forth. Occasionally, lava oozes down the mountain side, making an unforgettable and dazzling display at night. The object of this trek is to reach the volcano’s base by traveling through marshy valleys, across several rivers, and over a number of mountains before reaching your camp at La Playa ("The Beach"). The scenery is spectacular and if the weather is good, you'll be rewarded with superb views of Sangay.
This trek is fairly rugged, so an excellent level of physical fitness is required.
We will leave Quito and travel southwards on the Pan-American Highway through the famous "Avenue of the Volcanoes." Passing through the cities of Latacunga, Salcedo, and Ambato, once reaching the city of Riobamba we will leave the highway and drive on small country roads to the town of Licto. From here we will drive through wide Andean valleys to the indigenous village of Eten, where you will meet your local team. Depending on our time of arrival, we will either stay overnight in the village or start out on a short two-hour hike to our first camp. This hike will provide you will some first impressions of the daily life of people in this region. Lunch will be eaten en route, though you'll have dinner and spend the night in or near Eten – either in a tent or a hut.
After loading our gear onto pack horses, we will begin walking along the trail that leads through the last cultivated fields of civilization and into your adventure. Today you will be hiking for about 7 hours through the páramo (typical mountain grasslands), trekking along the Azashuaycu Gorge to the Escaleras River. On the way we will climb hills, cross alpine tundra and cross small rivers before reaching our camp on the slopes of a steep incline. From here, on a clear afternoon, it's possible to have great views of the Chimborazo Mountain, Ecuador’s highest peak at 20,700 feet (6,310 m).
After breakfast, we will continue through the páramo, hiking up the steep hill behind the previous night’s campsite. Our path will lead us along ridges and through huge valleys into the Sangay National Park, a trek of about 7 hours. We will finally reach the Plaza Pamba plateau, where we will find our next camp. If the weather is good, you can enjoy your first sights of the Sangay Volcano – with a little bit of luck, you might even witness a minor eruption.
Today, we will continue hiking towards La Oriente ("The Amazon") and you should be able to see beautiful scenery and the spectacular Sangay in a state of eruption. The terrain will get more difficult, as you'll have to cross several rivers, as well as climb and descend a number of hills covered with dense vegetation. In the afternoon we will arrive at the base camp of La Playa ("The Beach"), located on the southwest side of the volcano at an altitude of 11,800 feet (3,600 m).
You will be woken at 3:00 am to start the climb to the summit, which we should reach in approximately 6 to 7 hours. First, we'll hike to the base of the volcano using the light of our flashlights. Here, at La Ventana ("The Window"), as dawn breaks you'll have great views of the volcano above you and the Amazon rainforest far to the east below. The success of the climb depends above all on the intensity of the eruptions, which could force us to turn back early. While climbing, you'll be able to sense the power of the volcano, as you fell its trembling and witness its minor eruptions. This will be a unique experience! In the late afternoon we will return to the camp at La Playa.
On the way back, we will hike through a landscape created over the centuries by this majestic volcano. After 7-8 hours of walking, we will arrive back at Plaza Pamba Plateau and set up camp. On your way, keep an eye out for a shy bore-like tapir, which can often be spotted in this remote area.
Today, we will continue our return journey, and once more you'll have a chance to relish this remote landscape. You might be lucky enough to see one of the timid inhabitants of this bleak wilderness – perhaps an Andean wolf, a Spectacled bear or even a puma. After a 7-8 hour trek, we'll reach our last campsite.
After breakfast, we will go on a final hike for about 2 hours, which will bring us back to the village of Eten. A car will be waiting there to take you back to civilization. You will be driven first to the city of Riobamba and then north back to Quito, where you'll arrive in the late evening.
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What’s Included: Private transport, English speaking guide, meals as listed above, collective camping equipment (dining tent, 1 or 2-person sleeping tents, toilet tent), foam pad, tables, stools, kitchen gear etc., cook, pack animals, entrance fee to the National Park.
What’s not Included: Sleeping bag, personal equipment, tips, travel insurance.
What to Bring: Sleeping bag, sun glasses, sun block, rain wear, torch, hat, trekking shoes, warm clothing, canteen, camera, personal items such as toiletries.
Note: It is possible that the program could vary due to adverse weather conditions, volcanic activity and/or changes of the national park rules.
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