Sangay NP

  • El Altar - © David Torres Costales
  • Sangay - © Albert Backer
  • Cauldron of the Devil - Northern foothills of Tungurahua  - © William Mackesy
  • Tungurahua  - © Orban Lopez Crus
  • Tungurahua  - © Carine06
  • Ecuador Sangay NP - © Martin Zeise
  • El Altar Volcano - © Beatrice Murch
  • Paramo in Sangay  - © Albert Backer
  • Sangay - © Jean Claude Petit
  • Tungurahua  - © Estebar Monar
  • Tungurahua  - © Warren Talbot
  • Tungurahua  - © Equa013
  • Tungurahua  - © Sophie Robson
  • Tungurahua Slopes - © Jipe7

Key information: Sangay NP

  • Ecuador's largest mainland national park extends from the peaks and paramo grasslands of the high Andes to the Amazon rainforest, containing a remarkable variety of ecosystems.
  •   This superb World Heritage Site wilderness contains waterfalls, lakes, rivers and of course volcanoes. Two of Ecuador's most active volcanoes, Sangay and Tungurahua, as well as the dramatic extinct volcano, El Altar, all lie within the park.
  •  There is a lot of very varied walking to be done in the park. 

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating88
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest18
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma34
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating88

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 5,319m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Tungurahua  - © Orban Lopez Crus

WALK SUMMARY

Ecuador's largest mainland national park lies in the Cordillera Oriental, some 200 km south of Quito. It extends from the peaks and paramo grasslands of the high Andes to the Amazon rainforest, containing a remarkable variety of ecosystems, from rainforests, to cloud forests, to high grasslands, to alpine highlands to crag and glacier.

This superb World Heritage Site wilderness contains waterfalls, lakes, rivers and of course volcanoes. Two of Ecuador's most active volcanoes, Sangay and Tungurahua, as well as the dramatic extinct volcano, El Altar, all lie within the park.

There is a lot of walking to be done in the park. Here are the best (or best known anyway).

El Altar

This jagged 5,219m remnant of an exploded volcano is absurdly dramatic, a horseshoe of 9 snowy wildly broken peaks some 3 km across, replete with spires and crags and sporting a severe lake in the crater in the middle. It is said that, pre-explosion, El Altar would have been the highest peak in Ecuador. From the lake you can hear the creaking of the high glaciers.

The 25km, 3 day hike to the lake at some 4,200m and back is one of Ecuador's walking glories.

The trail starts from the small village of Candellaria, which is accessible by bus from Riobamba. After a short walk you come to Hacienda Releche. It is possible to spend the night here or in the hacienda's refuge, closer to the mountain.

Volcan Sangay

Sangay is claimed to be the most continuously active volcano in South America, so climbing it is dangerous at best. It is a great cone which changes shape and height and contains numerous craters.

Enjoy a huge variety of vegetation zones and wildlife, enjoying the striking journey, from the lowland forests to snowcapped peaks. You have a chance to see rare indigenous species, such as the mountain tapir and the condor.

Volcan Tongurahua

This superb, intermittently active volcano is in the Sangay NP, but in the Banos area, to the north of the heart of the park.

Other walks

There are plenty of other superb walks in Sangay NP, which we have not yet got information on. Recommendations requested, so we can give more information.

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This is tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather, where altitude can cause real problems. Come fully prepared, including proper acclimatization.

Have a look at TripAdvisor - there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on guides, places to hike and places to stay.

Ecuador Climbing and Hiking Guide - Viva has a worthwhile section on this area. Find relevant books by using our Amazon search function:

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Ecuador Sangay NP - ©Martin Zeise

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Cauldron of the Devil - Northern foothills of Tungurahua  - © William Mackesy...
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