Climbing Rucu Pichincha, Quito Ecuador - The Viking Abroad
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Climbing Rucu Pichincha, Quito Ecuador

28 Oct Climbing Rucu Pichincha, Quito Ecuador

Last Saturday my legs were aching for hiking. My boyfriend and I couldn’t find anything closer than Rucu Pichincha, which is just a couple of minutes from our apartment in Quito. The volcano is over 4696 meters above the sea! You might think that is a crazy altitude, yes it is. However, Quito is already at 2850 meters above the sea, and I am already used to that altitude.


Rucu Pichincha


Altitude sickness can be a pain in the ass! When I first moved here in January 2015 I had altitude sickness for basically a month! I have no idea why, maybe it could be because I have always lived near the sea. I was nauseous, dizzy and tired. Luckily I have passed that now! This is a picture of the view from the Teleferiqo, which is a cable cart you can take to get to the volcano or just see the view.  The cable cart cost $8,50 and you can’t lose your ticket, if you do, you risk of not getting down! You could walk the whole way and skip the cable cart, it might take you around three hours to get to the Teleferiqo.

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Being followed by birds


Rucu Pichincha

I have taken the Teleferiqo many times, probably at least five times. I have not been fit enough to climb Rucu Pichincha!

So, this time I decided to try to climb it. This is the second time being at Teleferiqo and seeing this funny bird called Curiquingue, it is famous because it tends to dance and it even has its own song! This one was not shy at all. I could almost touch it and it came closer and closer. I think it is used to tourists giving them food.



Rucu Pichincha


The weather was not the best. Even though it was blue sky five days before our hike, this day, the clouds came of course! If it was not cloudy, we could have seen many different mountains and volcanoes like Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Chimborazo. The only one we could see was the one we were climbing on. Nevertheless, no point to be negative, we decided to hike anyway!




The landscape is quite brown in this altitude, although you can see funny bushes like this one, it is called Chuquiragua. If you look carefully, you might also see rabbits running around! I saw one when we were walking down, but it was so quick I couldn’t snap a photo of it.

Can I make it to the top?


I didn’t stress that much by walking or running up and get there as soon as possible, I really enjoyed just walking in a normal pace and viewing the picturesque landscape.


That is a picture of the volcano. Not all active volcanoes burst out lava and are pointy and scary. This one is tiny and I am quite lucky to wake up to the view of this volcano every morning. Unless it is covered by clouds. That happens often. This is probably the clearest picture I could get of the volcano. It was surrounded by clouds the rest of the day.

Only half-way




Mauricio said just before we came to the cave, that it was half way through! Are you serious, I said.. We had been walking for three hours already. Of course, we stopped a lot on the way, snapping photos, eating snacks etc.. but half way? We saw a lot of people coming down from reaching the summit. One of them was the famous mountain climber Ivan Vallejo that has reached Mount Everest without oxygen mask! I am sure he climbs Rucu Pichincha less than one hour!



The reason we had a long break at the cave was that we saw another Curiquingue. This one was even more social than the other one! It came closer and closer to me and posed for the camera. Here he is doing his famous dance as well.



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When we walked from the cave we asked one tour guide if their group was going to the summit. The tour guide said they will not go that further because at this time it starts to get wet and sloppy. We walked for maybe another 10 minutes and then we decided to go back because NO ONE  was around, either walking up to the summit and down it. It was a bummer, I really wanted to reach that summit.

Oh well, it is not a big loss, at least I had a great time enjoying the walk, seeing lots of wildlife like rabbits and two Curiquingue-birds that danced and followed us.



Even though I didn’t reach the top this time, I still have a year to reach it and I will post another post from the summit 🙂  I live right next to it and I will live here at least one more year!

Three Tips for climbing Rucu Pichincha 

  1. Start early! You should take the first cable car at 8 am. Not at 10 am like I did.. You will not reach the top, at least not with a great view!
  2. Bring, snacks, water, lunch.
  3. Get ready for the shit weather. The weather is incredibly unpredictable in Quito, and a lot worse around a volcano! It can start raining at any time and also snow at the summit. Wear proper clothes. Use a good rain/wind jacket, beanie, gloves, and scarf! On another hand, the sun can be quite strong on the equator, so use sunscreen and sunglasses as well!

Have you hiked on a volcano before? How was it? Write a comment below.


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Climbing Rucu Pichincha, Quito Ecuador

  • Karen Lyons
    Posted at 14:56h, 28 October Reply

    I have never hiked near a volcano~ Awesome pictures on your hike~ I can’t even imagine a hike more than 3+ hours of walking! I would be sore for a week! lol 🙂

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 15:12h, 28 October Reply

      You should try it 🙂 You really feel the power of the volcano 😀 hahah yea, I was pretty sore afterwards.

  • thevikingabroad
    Posted at 10:46h, 29 October Reply

    hehe, Thank you 🙂 I was panting quite a bit as well hehe

  • lex
    Posted at 08:11h, 30 October Reply

    Great adventure and experience for you. And thanks for the tips. The bird image is so cute .

  • thevikingabroad
    Posted at 12:09h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you. It has never happened to me, but I have ehar it gets complicated and it will take a while, but I am sure they will let you take it at the end.

  • Chasa Fulkerson
    Posted at 19:39h, 31 October Reply

    I would love to hike a volcano. Haha I am sure my husband and I wouldn’t be able to make that hike either, or it at least takes us hours and hours. How cool that you saw Ivan Vallejo!!!

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 22:37h, 31 October Reply

      Thank you for the comment! It get a lot harder on a high altitude:) Yea, it was pretty cool.

  • Indrani
    Posted at 09:09h, 11 November Reply

    How lucky you are that the birds come to you! 🙂
    This climb was definitely worth it for the experiences.

  • mariko
    Posted at 02:22h, 18 November Reply

    Loved reading about the curiquingue… makes me want to travel to Ecuador… are they only in the high altitudes?

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:31h, 18 November Reply

      Thank you! Yes, they are only in high altitudes in the Andes 🙂 They are so cool.

  • Paul @
    Posted at 12:47h, 27 May Reply

    I keep reading all your Quito posts. The summit was amazing. I hope you get a chance to hike it again one day. I hiked up there with about 10 friends and no-one had any intention of quitting. It was very motivating. Pichincha was one of my favorite and most satisfying hikes I’ve ever done.

    • thevikingabroad
      Posted at 16:47h, 27 May Reply

      Thank you for that 😀 That is awesome, it is such a nice hike 😀

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