Reaching the Summit of Antisana Volcano

Antisana Volcano

Standing at 5,704 meters, the Antisana Volcano is the fourth-highest volcano on Ecuador’s Mainland. A 55-kilometer drive from Quito takes you to this majestic volcano situated in Antisana Reserve. 

This volcano has three peaks, one ancient cone that has been eroded by glaciers and cut by calderas, and two younger cones. The sole known historical eruption occurred between 1801 and 1802 when the top released a lava flow.

If you are looking to climb one of Ecuador’s highest peaks, read this article to help you prepare for your adventurous climb!

How to Get to Antisana Volcano

The Antisana Reserve is located in Napo Province, Ecuador which is about 55 kilometers southeast of Quito. It takes two hours to travel to the town of Pintaj, and another two hours to get to the camping area, which is located at a height of 4500 meters.

Reserva Antisana is not serviced by buses, however, it is accessible by private vehicle. Simply take the Quito-Sangolqu-Pintaj route, then leave the town square in Pintag and follow the signs to Antisana.

We drove for two hours to the town of Pintaj and another two-hour drive to reach the camping location, which is situated at a height of 4,500 meters.

Tour companies also offer organized tours to Antisana Reserve so if you want to travel with less hassle, you can book one for your Ecuador trip.

Climbing The Antisana Volcano

Despite being buried in snow and ice, the volcano is still active. The Thermals of Papallacta, which can be reached after a strenuous hour-long climb from the campground to the glacier entrance, are a blatant indicator of its activity.

There is a narrow route that crosses ash and lava stones and passes a little glacial lagoon. The glacier is a labyrinth of crevasses that primarily runs east to west over the large basin.

The crevasses get wider and deeper as you ascend higher. The northern top is the easiest peak to climb (which is also the highest). The route to the summit involves turning from south to north into the saddle and then moving 200 meters higher westward.

When I finally reached the summit and could see the remainder of the fascinating Andean scenery below me, including huge white glaciers, green valleys, gigantic cloud forests, and turquoise lagoons, it was an emotional moment of serenity and contentment.

How Long is the Climb to the Summit of Antisana Volcano?

The climb itself is said to be technically challenging and necessitates prior mountaineering training and experience. While the ascent takes roughly 6 to 8 hours, the descent only needs about 3 hours.

At dawn, the view is stunning as the volcano reflects in the lakes around the reserve. The Cotopaxi, Illinizas, or Chimborazo, as well as other surrounding volcanoes, may be visible if you’re fortunate and the day is clear when you’re hiking. We weren’t lucky though as it was cloudy during our climb.

How to Prepare Before Climbing Antisana Volcano

We are sharing some pointers and reminders below to help you in preparation for your Antisana climb.

Antisana Elevation

The Antisana reserve’s elevation spans from 1,400 meters to 5,758 meters above sea level at the peak of the Antisana Volcano.

Most tourists will notice the air is thinner. Your lungs will work very hard since there is less oxygen to breathe in, and you’ll notice that your heart is racing more quickly.

Before traveling to Antisana, we advise taking a few acclimatization days in Quito or other Andean locales. In this way, your body is already making more red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body more efficiently.

Additionally, it is advised to adopt a special acclimatization diet three to four weeks prior to the climb. We also suggest undergoing a medical examination for heart function.

Mountaineering Knowledge

Before climbing the Antisana Volcano, it is strongly advised to take Ecuador Climbing and Glacier training. Under the tightest safety conditions, this course involves training on an ice wall and glacier that is run by a certified instructor.

Prepare Your Climbing Gear

Aside from your technical mountaineering gear, it is advised to wear rain gear, heavy layers of clothing to keep the cold out, and cold-weather accessories like gloves and a wool cap. 

Additionally, you’ll need a sturdy pair of walking boots. Sunglasses and high-factor sunscreen are always necessary to prevent sunburn, especially on cloudy days. Take plenty of water and energy foods with you as well to keep you going.

Weather in Antisana

The weather is often chilly and erratic at high altitudes in the Andes mountains. Antisana Reserve’s average temperature is just 5 degrees Celsius, with highs of 15 and lows of -1.

A powerful sun when it shines, a chilly wind when it bites, and a decent chance of rain (or perhaps freezing hail) most days are the four seasons that visitors should be prepared for. Even though the weather is supposed to be awful, it really contributes to the unique flora and wildlife that make this ecosystem so rich for tourists to appreciate.

Best Time to Climb Antisana Volcano

The best time to go to Antisana Reserve and climb Antisana Volcano is between mid-November to mid-March when it is the dry season. It is important to know though that it is usually cloudy in this volcano.

It may be windy between April to September and it is not really recommended to climb between April to May and mid-September to early November.

Bottom Line

Anyone who loves adventure and challenges will enjoy their expedition to reach the Antisana Volcano’s summit.

If you are not into mountaineering, the Antisana Reserve is a great place to visit too. Visitors will love the grandeur of one of Ecuador’s least-explored reserves. 

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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