I recently returned form 1.5 months in Ecuador. All spent in the Sierras, from the north to the South. And most of this time was spent trekking in the Andes. It was a fantastic experience, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested. The hikes are incredible, the weather pleasant, and the people very amiable. I could easily spend another couple months in the Sierras alone trekking. Here's a very brief breakdown of my hikes along with some photos. Unfortunately I lost my camera partway through the trip and with it, half of my photographs.
fully loaded hmg expedition
PARQUE NACIONAL CAJAS
My favorite place for hiking in Ecuador, and perhaps anywhere! I did three day hikes here (including a climb up Cerro Arqitecto to 15k), and one 3 day crossing of the park inspired by an old but now disintegrated Incan road. Most hikes range from around 11-14k here. Beautiful Paramo, cloud forests, 100s of lakes, llamas, alpacas, wild horses, and other more elusive wild life. Even though the weather can turn extreme very quickly, I still found the place had a welcoming vibe.
Beautiful and tranquil valley in the south of the country. at about 5000 feet elevation, but equatorial, so still quite warm year round. Did a few day hikes in the area. Unfortunately missed Podocarpus NP which i hear is incredible.
I planned a challenging three day circuit between Chimborazo and Carihairazo, but had to abort after one night. My track notes were completely outdated and my rudimentary map useless. I ended up going way off trail for about 7 hours. it would have been foolish to continue the next day. It was still beautiful though and I hope to return to do it right. Regardless of being lost, it felt incredibly powerful walking between these two giants, especially with Chimborazo always to my left.
After aborting Chimbo, I chose El Altar in Sangay NP as my next trek, with the intent to spend the solstice under the peaks. I spent three days here, and It was absolutely incredible. After a 5 hour slog up steep and muddy tracks, the view bursts open into wide plain with rivers and wild horses running throughout. Above the plain looms the many jagged peaks of El Altar. The next day I climbed over the rim and down into the mouth, in which rests a milk turquoise colored lagoon.
I spent four days walking in the Andean highlands from little village to village. Instead of camping I opted to stay at some unique hostels in each village. This is a real slice of authentic Andean highland life, with inspiring views everywhere thou turn your head. Unfortunately, on the bus ride back I left my camera on the seat :-(
Other miscellaneous day hikes in the north near Otovalo, namely climbing the easy Fuya Fuya, hiking around the Lagunas De Mojanda, and Laguna Cuicocha in Imbabura NP, and the Rio Mira valley.
More photos here:
2. El Altar
3. Quito and Cuenca
Feel free to ask any questions about gear or other specifics