Volcano El Altar


Day 1;

Early in the morning I took the bus to Quilmiag. From there I got a ride on three milk trucks. On the first one I was for the longest time. The truck stopped at every farm it passed and collected the milk from the farms. The amount of milk varied, from as little less then 10l up to 60l, per farm.

With the last milk truck, I ended up near the start of the hike, near is still more than 2 hours hiking. On the different trucks and in the bus, it had been very foggy, but dry, when I started hiking however it was still foggy but started raining now as well, not very hard, but it didn’t stop till late at night either.

The trail was very muddy and sometimes it was difficult to follow, I did loose the track a couple time, but it was always easy to find back. At the end of the first day I was in the end of a valley. A rock formation as half a circle around the valley, with large waterfalls coming down.

The path went up between the rocks and then there was a sign for a campsite. I followed the sign and found a perfect place for my tent, especially with this weather. The path leads to a spot under the cliff, sheltered from the rain. A better spot I couldn’t have wished for with this weather.

Day 2;

I could take my time packing my backpack while it was still raining since I was sheltered from the rain. The weather seemed to bed better because in the distance there was some blue sky. It kept raining, but I did leave after waiting a bit anyway.

Going up the wind got stronger and stronger. I decided to skip the detour to the lakes on the high land and started to follow the trail on the top of the cliff. With trek I was passing some lakes, sometimes very close but I didn’t always see them because of the fog.

On the path I passed many weird rock formations. A large lake and from the lake a creek that lead to the waterfall that I saw on the first day. I could walk to where the cliff went down and to the top of the waterfall.

The path went up, I first took a wrong turn down the cliff and after that another wrong path following the lake, but from the second last turn I could go up towards the path. After passing a pass (4600m) the weather improved a bit and I could see the lake in the crater and the glacier above of El Altar.

I went down the valley and crossed the river running through the valley toward the refuge. Al the building of the refuge where locked, but I found a spot under the roof where I could put my tent, keeping again my tent dry and making it easy to pack and unpack and have dinner and breakfast.

A fox was passing by while I had dinner.

Day 3;

I took my time for breakfast, because it seemed like the weather was going to improve. When it was dry I started walking up to towards the lake and the glacier. The glacier was still partly in the louds, but the view was definitely better then the previous days. There were a couple humming birds flying from flower to flower next to the lake.

From there I returned and picked up my backpack from the refuge. From her the path was very clear and although very muddy easy to follow down.

On the way down I met 3 tourists, they told me that the path would get even more muddy and that they had gotten a key for the refuge. The path got indeed a bit muddier but compared to the first day the path was a lot better than the first day.

When I came at the road I got a ride from 2 guys that were planning to go to El Altar next week. They informed with the guy that owned the refuge near El Altar for renting a guide and mules. I told them afterwards that a guide was not really necessary, and they gave me a list with type of food I should try in Ecuador.

When I came back in Riobamba the hotel where I stayed before was full, I had to go to another hotel.


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