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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Exciting Trip to Mount Chimborazo, highest volcano in Ecuador...

Dear Family and Friends,

On Wednesday, Dimitri took us on our Chimborazo adventure.  Actually seeing the mountain can be a hit or miss situation because of the weather in the Andes.  

When we left Riobamba that morning, the mountain was covered in cloud.  As we made our way around to the south side of the mountain, Chimborazo showed herself to us in all her glory.

Here is a sign on the road side telling us what mountain we are looking at and the height. 

Mt. Chimborazo is 6310 meters or 20,702 feet high.  To give you an idea of how high that is Mt. Denali in Alaska, the tallest mountain in the U.S. is 20,310 feet high and Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. is 14,500 feet high.

The scenery going up to the mountain was beautiful.

Here is one of many canyons around the mountain.

As we climbed higher we could see Vicunas out the window of the van.  Vicunas are relatives of llamas.  They only live in the wild.  According to Dimitri they are very sensitive and cannot be domesticated.  They die if they cannot be free.  Their wool is extremely fine, when woven it is very warm.  It is highly prized and very expensive because the vicuna can only be shorn once every three years and to do this they must be caught in the wild.

We finally arrived at the Welcome Center to the Chimborazo Reserve.  At this spot we were 14,390 feet high.  

The terrain was like a moonscape.  We were well above the timberline.  

We hiked around the area to see the flora. The plants were all unique to us.  They are Andean alpine plants, only growing at these high altitudes

This plant has an orange flower.  It can be used to make a tea that helps with altitude sickness, much like coca leaves.

This tiny plant is a mountain relative to an orchid.  Its blooms are extremely small.

And this is an Alpine Daisy.  It does not have a stem, it blooms right next to the ground.  The conditions are harsh at this altitude and I think it is amazing that plants grow and bloom here at all.

The first hikers refuge was only 8 kilometers away.  We decided to go because there is a road to that point and Dimitri could drive us there.

Before we went we stopped at the gift shop and I bought a second hat to wear under the hat I was wearing and Chuck bought some socks.  We knew we would need them because it was really cold out.

It only took a few minutes to drive the 8 km. to the first refuge.  You can see the refuge building over Chuck's right shoulder.

At this spot we are now 15,750 feet high.  

The first refuge is named Carrel, after the Carrel cousins who accompanied Edward Whymper, who was the first person to ever reach the summit of Chimborazo in 1880.

The second and last refuge before the summit is named Whymper refuge.

Here is the view of the summit from the first refuge.  If you look very close you can see a monument a ways up the mountainside.  

The picture below is where I stopped hiking up the mountain.  If you look close you can see the monument in the picture. I did not feel the need to reach the monument.  Chuck, on the other hand, saw it as a challenge and continued to climb.  

I handed my cell phone to Dimitri and asked him to take pictures while I waited for their return.

Here is Chuck, halfway to the monument.  You can see grave stones over Chuck's left shoulder.  Some graves are of the remains of hikers who tried to climb Chimborazo and died in the process, other markers are for people who had climbed Chimborazo and wanted their remains placed here when they died.

Chuck made it to the monument.  The monument was built in 1983 to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Simon Bolivar, who was the liberator of Ecuador.

Dimitri took this awesome picture of the view looking back from monument.

Another special picture to share.  I took this picture on the way back down the mountain.  It is a vicuna on the horizon.

When we got back to civilization, we stopped for a traditional meal in a really neat house.

Here is Chuck waiting to be served.  Does he look a little tired?

We were back at our B&B by about 2:00pm.  I slept all afternoon.  You do not realize it at the time, but walking around at very high altitudes really takes a toll on your body.  

We did not even go out for dinner.  We ordered food to be delivered.  We went to bed early.

The next morning, Thursday, Dimitri picked us up at 8:30 am to drive us back to Cuenca.  We drove straight through and arrived home about 1:00 pm.

We had a wonderful adventure.  It was a very safe trip with all precautions taken to make sure we stayed healthy.  We would highly recommend this trip if you are in Ecuador and getting sick of being locked down.  

If you want information, you can reach Dimitri on WhatsApp:  593 99 836 9908.

You can also contact Popkje at

Again, thank you Dimitri for such a wonderful adventure.

Thank you all for coming along on this adventure with us. 


Nancy & Chuck


  1. Wonderful! And Chuck, way to go, I can imagine you were really winded up there( hahaha) love you both.

    1. Chuck did great. The tour guide said that Chuck is the second oldest person to ever make it to the monument.


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