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  • Writer's pictureSanni & Gerri@

Quito & Rucu Pichincha

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

As the first starting point of our trip we chose the highest capitol in the world. Quito. In the city that "touches the sky", you first have to get used to breathing in thin air at 2.850 meters above sea level. Even the ascent of the road to our hostel, the Secret Garden, becomes a real "air sample". The luggage on the back and in front of the chest does the rest. Training in the Teutoburg Forest does not help either.


Quito free Walking Tour

On the first day, we explored the historic center of Quito with a small nice group from our hostel on a free walking tour. The was declared a cultural heritage of humanity by Unesco in 1978. Sights include the Basilica del Voto Nacional, Plaza de la Independencia or Plaza Grande, the cathedral, the Government Palace, the Church of Society known as the jewel of America and the Atrium of San Francisco. You can explore them on foot, especially during the day, without any problems. Thanks to our English-speaking guide Ferdji, there were some funny anecdotes in addition to interesting facts about the city and the buildings. Delicious food in small local shops, high-alcoholic Callendario and a salsa course included. We spent the evening in the hostel, from the roof terrace there is a spectacular view over the city and Mount El Panecillo. There is the monument to the Virgin of Quito, which is particularly beautiful in the dark. The only necessity: You should always have a warm sweater with you here. 9 degrees. Warm is different.


Ride on the Teleferico to Rucu Pichincha

Since we were thinking of hiking on at least one of the volcanoes of the famous Strait of Volcanoes, we ended our completely chilled arrival directly on the third day to start the first little adventure. According to Internet research, Quito's "local mountain" Rucu Pichincha can be climbed as a normal hiker in 2 to 3 hours. That sounds like a good exercise. We first took a taxi (€5.00) to the western side of Quito. From there we went by cable car, the Teleferico, in a gondola in approx. 15 minutes at 4.050 m altitude. We used the first trip directly, at 09:30 a.m., as the weather in the morning is usually clear and sunny. It is cloudy from noon to afternoon and it rains frequently. Especially at high altitude, the weather can change quickly, which is why we had several layers of clothing with us. Good footwear was also strongly recommended. The cable car trip cost €8.50, return included.

Arriving at the upper platform of Teleferico, we had a great view of Quito and several Andean peaks. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to be able to look to the snow-capped summit of the Cotopaxi volcano. Then our hike started on which it should go about 4.5 km steadily uphill before standing on the summit of the Rucu Pichincha volcano after 2-3 hours. Already the first climb, still very well prepared with stairs, up to the Columpio Swing literally takes our breath away. Every step torments. The dizziness after rocking high above Quito doesn't make it any better. Nevertheless, a cool attraction that should not be missed. Fortunately, we were almost the only visitors so that we could let our fear sounds run wild and take great photos.

The further hike took us over steep, narrow paths through the typical Andean highland vegetation, called Paramo vegetation. Always in mind the rocky 4,700 meter high peak of Rucu Pichincha. Breathing continued to be incredibly difficult for us and with the short but violently steep climbs, your heart literally threatened to shatter, the pressure in your head was also noticeable. So we took a lot of breaks. Of course to enjoy the beautiful view.

Arriving at 4,200 meters, for which we have already taken at least 1.5 hours, it got much colder, it started raining and the clouds got closer and closer. At this point, Sanni decided to finish the ascent. Gerriet couldn't stop it and fought his way up to 4,400 meters. From there onwards, the rocky part of the trail began, which beginner, like us, should not go without a guide. Especially in bad weather conditions. So we decided to decent but heavily impressed and also a bit proud. This was our first hike in such altitude and the descent was not less demanding. Overall, really a must-do but better after 2-3 days of acclimatization in the city. Let's see, maybe we'll try again in the coming days.


Rucu Pichincha the 2nd

Our 2nd trial to climb the Runcu Pinchicha took place at best weather conditions, led us to 4,440 m and offered spectacular views. To get to the summit, however, there were a technically very demanding path. You could choose from either climbing, crossing a steep rock or continuing on a narrow path directly on the edge!

Since Sanni was still a convinced "height fearer" until a few months ago, we finished our 2nd high-altitude training and simply enjoyed the fantastic view of the Andes while descending!

Since there was an infinitely long queue at the Teleferico cable car and we still felt quite fit, we just started walking down the mountain! That alone was not the best idea, as the path was actually rather a kind of dried-up riverbed! It doesn't matter. You always come down.

And then it came out of Gerriet's mouth: "There is a short-cut"

Whenever Gerriet says this, I know it's "dangerous". And it came as it had to come. At some point, we both slipped backwards on the butt of a fairly long distance through dust, scrub and stones. It was definitely quick! Fortunately, we arrived at the foot of the cable car station at the end - completely exhausted but happy!


*The English version of this blog is supported by automated translation*

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