Without a doubt Ecuador is one of the best mountain destinations in the world. If you are a volcano lover, you have to come to visit the Avenue of Volcanoes. The breathtaking landscapes you will see are unique. The great mountains, majestic volcanoes and snow-capped mountains of Ecuador will allow you to enjoy activities such as hiking, trekking, climbing, camping, photography and more. In other words, you will live an incredible and unparalleled adventure. Here is a list of the 5 highest volcanoes in Ecuador and their main characteristics.

1. Chimborazo Volcano “The highest”

The breathtaking Chimborazo is the highest volcano in Ecuador and the farthest point from the center of the Earth. Its peak reaches 6268 m above sea level. Chimborazo volcano is located southwest of the main Ecuadorian volcanic arc, called «Avenue of the Volcanoes». It is located 150 km south of Quito and 28 km northwest of the city of Riobamba.

Chimborazo volcano is considered a potentially active volcano, since in the last 10,000 years it has had about 7 eruptions. There is an approximate interval of 1000 years per eruption. The last recorded volcanic eruption occurred approximately 1400 years ago.

If you want to see this highest volcano, you have to visit the Chimborazo Fauna Production Reserve. The reserve is also home to llamas and alpacas. The purpose of the creation of the reserve was to protect both the Chimborazo volcano, animals and its historical legacy, as well as the páramo of which they are a part.

Chimborazo the highest volcano in Ecuador

2. Cotopaxi Volcano “One of the most actives”

The majestic Cotopaxi, with an almost perfect snow cone that rises to 5,897 meters, is positioned as the second highest volcano in Ecuador. Cotopaxi is one of the most famous volcanoes for mountain climbing in the country for its great imposing. Also it is considered one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. 

The most violent historical eruptions of the Cotopaxi volcano occurred in 1744, 1768, 1877 and 1904. From here, the last recently recorded volcanic activity was between mid-2015 and early 2016.

It is located on «Avenue of the Volcanoes» named after the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in 1802 in reference to the volcanoes of the central and northern highlands of Ecuador. The volcano is located within the Cotopaxi National Park in the province of the same name, about 50 kilometers south of Quito.

Cotopaxi National Park is one of the most visited, the main reason being its volcano, as well as its unique flora and fauna. The vegetation is mainly scrub and small and low bushes.

Cotopaxi National Park

3. Cayambe Volcano “Cahan”

The Cayambe volcano, the third highest volcano in Ecuador, is located in the northern part of the Cordillera Real, 60 km northwest of Quito.

The Cayambe is a compound volcano, formed by several summits, of which the maximum reaches 5790 m.  One of its most outstanding characteristics is that it is located less than 3 km north of the equator. This means that a large part of the volcano is also in the southern hemisphere.

Cayambe is considered an active volcano, but its last eruption was from 1785 to 1786. This volcano is not considered difficult to climb but it is dangerous due to snowstorms, strong winds and avalanches. In fact, its summit is the coldest place on the equator. This is the origin of its Quichua name «Cahan» which means «very cold place». 

Cayambe the third highest volcano in Ecuador

4. Antisana Volcano “ The most extensive glacier»

Antisana is a large composite stratovolcano, potentially active. This volcano has the most extensive glacier. This is due to its position in the eastern part of the Cordillera Real.

It is located on the borders of the provinces of Pichincha and Napo, at a distance of 50 km southeast of Quito. The majestic and mysterious Antisana reaches an altitude of 5758 meters. 

Antisana is the fourth highest volcano in Ecuador and is also known as one of the most difficult to climb due to its glaciers and changing crevasses that do not allow defining a standard climbing route.

The Antisana complex is formed by two volcanic cones, an older volcano cut by calderas and eroded by glaciers and a young cone. The last recorded historical eruption was in 1801 to 1802, when a lava flow erupted from the summit.

This large composite volcano is part of the Antisana Ecological Reserve, a protected area where you can find paramos and western Andean forests. Within the reserve is also the Mica Lagoon, which provides part of Quito’s water supply.

Antisana Ecological Reserve

5. Altar Volcano “Cápac Urcu”

The volcano Altar or Capac Urcu is called this way by the indigenous people, whose meaning means «The powerful one or the lord of the mountains».  It is also called El Altar because its summit resembles an altar of a colonial church. Its snow-capped peak reaches a maximum height of 5,319 meters above sea level. 

This volcano of singular beauty is located in the center of Ecuador, in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes about 20 km east of Riobamba. It is located within the Sangay National Park. 

The Altar is an inactive volcano, covered by glaciers. Its formation is composed of several peaks and huge agoras as a result of its last eruption.

The Altar is considered one of the most beautiful snow-capped mountains in Ecuador. Inside the volcano, its glaciers form magical lagoons. Among the most outstanding are: Laguna Amarilla or Caldera, Azul, Verde, Pintada and Mandur, among others.

The Yellow Lagoon is one of the most outstanding attractions of the volcano, due to its unique greenish color and because it is located inside the volcano’s crater.

Altar volcano in Ecuador

Yellow lagoon in Altar volcano crater

Are you ready for a wonderful adventure discovering the volcanoes in Ecuador? We invite you to join our tour and live an unique experience.

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