Pasochoa is a long-extinct volcano that has been severely eroded and dormant since the last ice age. It is 30 kilometers south of Quito.
The humid cloud forest of the Pasochoa climb, which is located close to Quito inside an extinct volcanic crater, is its main attraction. There are more than 100 different bird species and 50 different kinds of native Andean plants in this reserve.
The climb, which passes through stunning paramo grasslands and cloud forests, is somewhat simple. You will have the chance to witness the magnificent Andean fauna, such as bulls, horses, hummingbirds, the Mountain-Tanager, the Red-crested Cotinga, and the sporadic Andean Condor, during the trip.
The ascent provides stunning views of the nearby volcanoes including the enormous Cotopaxi. For individuals who are new to high altitudes or starting an acclimatization program, this is the ideal first hike. I would recommend taking ChlorOxygen 1-2 weeks ahead of the trip so it’s easier to deal with high altitudes.
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How to Get to Pasochoa Volcano
Drive 25 to 30 kilometers south of Quito, going through Sangolqui, the last town for supplies if needed. Turn left off the main road after passing a contemporary gas station (the road is unmarked). Follow this gravel/stone road until you reach the end, where there is an abandoned structure. There is a trail that climbs to Pasochoa’s top beyond the structure. This road’s last section can only be reached by a 4×4.
Pasochoa is also accessible from Amaguaña. Buses departing from the La Marn terminal may transport you from Quito to Amaguaña. The bus ride costs 45 cents and lasts around an hour. When you arrive in Amaguaña, take a short stroll to the plaza to rent a pickup that will take you to the trailhead which usually costs around $10.
Soon after making a right at the historic structure, two contemporary wire fences with gates will be in view. It is okay to open the gates so that your party may pass through, but you must leave them exactly as you found them. Pay attention in case there are bulls among the animals that may be there.
Although the initial portion of the trek was not particularly steep, any physical activity performed at 3,200 meters gives the heart and lungs a decent workout. A group of cows greeted us when we emerged from a little woodland that we had to squeeze through in certain places. The cows were not at all eager to let us pass. They purposefully ran in our direction to obstruct us!
Once you have passed the second gate, turn left toward the clear canal or ditch that leads to the summit group and runs close below the ridge.
As we ascended higher, the weather did not get any better, but at least it wasn’t pouring yet! When we weren’t too far away, the Pasochoa top was visible despite the fog that continued sweeping across the area. And I was overjoyed to finally glimpse the “traditional” vista of the volcano crater’s ridgeline on our ascent.
On a clear day, I can only picture what the view must be like: a volcanic crater that abruptly disappears with views of the area’s even taller volcanoes. The crater covered in fog, however, truly captured my attention since it was somber and incredibly strange. Despite the limited visibility, this view was breathtaking and made the climb entirely rewarding.
Before beginning the return trip, we stopped for a brief lunch at the peak (4,200 meters above sea level) as the fog closed in all around us. On the trek down, it did truly begin to rain, making the already treacherous mud route into a huge mess.
The only way to ensure you didn’t trip and fall was to grasp handfuls of the páramo grass and anchor yourself while you very carefully made the next step. Thank heavens páramo grass is not a blade grass. The páramo was always damp due to the rain, which caused our hands to freeze and our clothes to get so soaking that we couldn’t possibly get colder or wetter.
When to Climb
All year round, Pasochoa is reachable. December and January are the driest months throughout the summer. June and July are colder months and the ideal time to visit.
Without specialized mountaineering gear, one can climb Pasochoa. The path is simple and well-marked by heavy usage. The path starts out in tall grass before changing to loose granite as you climb. Both the genuine peak and the fake summit provide a clear view of the route.
For hikers of all abilities, the day trip to Pasochoa Volcano is a delightful experience. You won’t have to worry about crowds because it is not a very popular hike for visitors. You can simply take it easy and take in the scenery together. I can’t say it’s a must-visit place in Ecuador, but only for enthusiasts.
If the Pasochoa Volcano day trek seems like something you’d like, you may book a climbing trip with a few travel companies offering their services.