El Altar Trek
El Altar (5319 m. / 17.451 ft.) is one the most spectacular mountains of Ecuador. The Incas called it Capac Urcu – sublime mountain. A long time ago, El Altar was the highest mountain of Ecuador, and some studies even say that it was the highest of the world. A huge eruption almost completely destroyed the cone, leaving 9 snow-capped summits in a horseshoe shape around an enormous crater lake. El Altar is part of the Sangay National Park, that is home to condors, Andean gulls, white-tailed deers and foxes.
Note: not possible during raining season
Day 1: Riobamba - Hacienda Releche - Collanes River
At 9:00 am we leave Riobamba. After a 1-hour drive we reach the Hacienda Releche, at 3200 m. / 10.499 ft. altitude. We put our equipment on pack horses and start to hike up a steep hill. After 1 hour we reach the trail to El Altar and soon we will enjoy the first views of the extinct volcano and the valley of Collanes river. We continue hiking for about 5 hours until we reach the Collanes shelter at 3850 m. / 12.632 ft., where we will spend the night.
After breakfast we follow the Collanes Plain to El Altar’s crater lake. From the plateau at 4300 m. / 14.108 ft., the highest point of this trek, we have marvellous views of the turquoise-green lake and the snow-capped peaks. Condors are still seen around here. In the afternoon we return to the refuge.
In the morning we hike down from the refuge to Releche. From here we drive back to Riobamba. Arrival at about 14:00 hour.
Difficulty: moderately difficult; a basic acclimatization is highly recommended
Departure: any day with minimum 2 persons
Inclusive in this El Altar Trek:
– naturalist guide
– transportation from / to Riobamba
– accommodation in refuge
– meals and coffee, tea, purified drinking water
– pack horses for the equipment
– (soft) drinks
– Personal spendings