Visiting Mt. Chimborazo is an unusual tourist activity. It didnt take us too long to realize that it is not typically done by most tourists. The only folks who want to visit it are serious hikers or people who have hired a car to hike some distance up the mountain and be back by evening.
|Construction ongoing at park entrance, mist because of 4500+ m altitude|
Getting To Riobamba:
The nearest town to Mt. Chimborazo is Riobamba, Ecuador. It is a 2 hour bus ride from Baños to Riobamba. Its very easy to find $1 taxis here, so we took one to our hotel. It is a 5 to 5.5 hour bus ride from Cuenca.
Stay in Riombamba:
We stayed at Hostal Oasis – a nice place with pretty rooms, friendly staff and a nice courtyard.
Eat at Riobamba:
Be wary of finding decent food in the evenings at Riobamba. All restaurants were closed. We finally stumbled upon a lady selling empañadas outside a door and on enquiry, she led us into a family run small restaurant. We quickly found ourselves being approached a friendly group of three young siblings who spoke flawless english. Daniel, the youngest, simply walked up to us and asked “Do you speak english?”
Getting to Chimborazo:
To go to Chimborazo mountain, take a bus going to Guarande from Terminal Terrestre. Buses take about 1 hour up (and 45 minutes back). The bus drops you off in the middle of nowhere, but exposes you to magnificent views of Ecuador’s tallest mountain.
From the road, you can see the entrance to the national park. In 2011, this entrance area was seeing some new construction, probably a new park entrance office with waiting area and a ranger. There are two ‘refugios’ on the mountain – refuge hut.
- The first hut is 8 kms from the main road, on a very steady incline. The refuge hut is a well maintained structure, with a friendly ranger who lives there several days a month and takes turns with other park rangers. He sells soup, noodles and other simple foods.
- The second refuge hut is 200 meters higher than the first hut and is a 40-60 minute walk.
- Both refuge huts have flush toilets. The first one also has a kitchen with snacks and hot soup for sale.
|First refuge hut|
|Second refuge hut|
|Inside the refuge hut. What a haven for hikers!|
Tips for Chimborazo:
Leave after a heavy breakfast. Pack lunches, snacks and water to last the day. Hike if possible, the altitude is really really high and you feel every bit of it.