Ilinizas: The Amazing Ecuadorian Twin Mountains

Throughout the past several years, Ecuador has been gaining a lot of popularity as an adventure destination. The amazing Ecuadorian Andes hold some of the continents’ highest peaks and, as a result, visitors come from all over the world to try to get to their summits. A local favourite is Ilinizas – a double-peak mountain whose name means male hill in kunza (an extinct language from the regions of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile). The mountain used to be a single-peak volcano but, thanks to its last explosion, had its peak divided into two summits.
Ecuador is a country of many beauties. You will often hear Ecuadorians say that this country has it all. Because of its advantageous location on the equator and the Andes mountain range that serves as its backbone, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Not only is Ecuador favoured by tropical weather patterns that vary greatly with altitude, but the most amazing landscapes are just a few hours away from any big city.

Cotopaxi Volcano: Photo credit: Gerard Prins

Cotopaxi Volcano: Photo credit: Gerard Prins

Quito: A Must Stop On Your Journey Through the Andes

On your way to the Galapagos Islands, before boarding the dreamiest of Galapagos cruises, do make sure you stop in Quito. Stay at the unbelievable Casa Gangotena, located in the heart of the colonial downtown. You will not want to miss the opportunity to walk around this World Heritage site. If you get a clear day, visit the TeleferiQo (Quito’s cable car) and marvel at the view you will get of the volcanoes that surround it. If the sky is very clear, you will The Basilica of the National Vote towering over downtown Quito definitely be able to get a glimpse of Ilinizas to the south of Quito which is very easily recognized thanks to its iconic two peaks.

Quito's old town

Quito’s old town

Ilinizas: A Worthwhile Trip for Both Adventurers and Observers

Just looking at the amazing Andes from up close makes the journey to Ecuador worth it. These majestic mountains and volcanoes will definitely put everything you know into perspective. It is only human to feel absolutely small when standing next to the grand Cotopaxi volcano. On your way to the Cotopaxi National Park, you will see Ilinizas to your right –they are impossible to miss. If you are visiting Cotopaxi’s refuge, or are on your way to beautiful Chimborazo or Cuenca, the views that will accompany you during your journey will leave you breathless.

If You Are a Mountain Climber

If you are in optimal physical conditions, climbing North Ilinizas (the smaller of the two) can be a worthy challenge. Do take into consideration the importance of acclimatization: even the most athletic person can be a victim of mountain sickness – an illness caused by the acute exposure to an environment with less oxygen. Ilinizas shouldn’t be taken lightly. North Ilinizas – the most commonly climbed of the two — is 5,126 metres. And its brother, the host to a remnant of glacier, is 5,248 meters. The latter is only climbed by more experienced climbers because it requires a little more technical knowledge than its little brother.

Ilinizas. Photo credit: Lion Hirth

Ilinizas. Photo credit: Lion Hirth

Do it Right

If climbing Ilinizas is part of your plans make sure you hire a local mountain guide. The National Park does not permit individuals to climb mountains above 5,000 metres without an ASEGUIM (Ecuadorian Association of Mountain Guides) certified guide. Your guide will help you arrange a well-thought out plan to reach your objective. This plan should include acclimatization in lower mountains, numerous meals that are high in carbs during the days leading up to the climb, and no less than 3 litres of water the day before. Hydration is key to avoid mountain sickness. Take our word for it.

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Nathalie Moeller is of Ecuadorian and German descent. As a child she spent her summers in the Galapagos Islands, where her mother grew up, and from a very young age learned to love the beauty and uniqueness of the archipelago. She studied Journalism and Humanities in Barcelona, after living in Madrid and Germany for a couple of years. This gave her a culturally broader view of the world, which is reflected in everything she does. Blogging gives her the opportunity to combine her passion for travelling and writing.

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