ChimborazoMountain Wildlife Reserve is located in the Cordillera Central of the
Inter-Andean Region. Some of the main attractions of the Reserve are the two high mountains it protects: the
imposing Chimborazo volcano at 6,310 masl, the highest glacier in Ecuador and
the Carihuairazo at 5,020 masl. The other prime attraction are the vicuñas.
The Chimborazo massif with its three peaks stretches eastward and has a base of
more than 20 km in diameter. It has not had any volcanic activity since its last eruption about 10,000
Chimborazo Mountain Climb Mount Chimborazo is not the highest mountain in the world measured from sea level, but
its location along the equator makes its peak the furthest point away from the
center of the earth.
The entire peak of the Chimborazo is covered by glaciers, with the northeastern
glacier flowing down to 4,600 masl. The height of the Chimborazo Mountain is 6,263 m, and the highest mountain in Ecuador.
The Chimborazo Volcano climb is very popular. In the Northern Andes of
Peru are even higher mountains, the Cordillera Blanca in the
Huascaran National park, which has the highest peaks of the
Under clear conditions, you can see the peak of the Chimborazo
from Guayaquil, about 140 km away.
Carihuairazo Volcano: It rises to 5,020 masl and has a
caldera of 2 km in diameter, one of the widest in Ecuador, perhaps the only
comparable to the ones of El Altar and Antisana. Lonf ago,
this volcano may have been similar in size to the Chimborazo, but is final
eruptions must have destroyed its cone, although it did not jeopardize its
In the past, the Indians would climb to the glacier to stock up on large blocks
of ice and transport them down on mules to the villages; They were
known as hieleros of Chimborazo.
You can get
in car to the chimborazo up to 4,800masl, the highest parking lot in the world.
The peak of
the Chimborazo is covered with glaciers.
90% of the melt water of
the Chimborazo flows to the Atlantic and 10% to the Pacific, running into the
Guaranda River watershed. The sub-basins of the Ambato and Chambo Rivers form
part of the upper basin of the Pastaza River, which flows into the Amazon. At 70
km of the Chimborazo are two hydroelectric plants: Agoyán and San Francisco,
that supply electricity to Sucumbíos, Napo and Pastaza and parts of Chimborazo
There is a permanent lake, Cocha Negra and several seasonal lakes near Urbina
Depending on the elevation, the annual temperature varies between 14 ° -3 ° C.
The annual precipitation is 1 000 mm / year.
Chimborazo Wildlife Reservewascreated on October 26,
1987 by interministerial agreement No. 437 and published in the OFFICIAL
REGISTER November 9, 1987 R.o. No. 806. It has an area of 58,560 ha with an
altitudinal range of 3,200 - 6,310 masl.
One of the main reasons for declaring the Reserve was the (Re)
-introduction of 3 of the 4 South American Camelids: llamas, domesticated
animals during the Inca empire;The
alpacas and the vicuñas, native species of Peru and Chile, but that adapted very
well to this environment.
The Reserve is located at 180 km south of Quito. The nearest towns are Riobamba (28 km), Ambato (32 km) and
Guaranda (25 km).
fact, the Chimborazo has a variety of things to do
Hot springs: On the banks of the
Colorado River is a spa called Cununyacu at 3,600 masl.
This facility has three pools with hot springs from the Chimborazo. To get there, take the road to San Juan and follow the old road
to Ambato (11 km).
Chimborazo Volcano: Located at 28 km northwest of Riobamba and 32
km from Ambato.
The climb to its top requires sufficient experience in ice climbing. There is a new mountain hut at 4,800 masl for climbers and
visitors with lodging facilities, that can be reached by car.
Volcano Carihuairazo: It rises to 5,020 masl
whose climb is less popular than that of the Chimborazo.
Guided walks: Several trails allow
you to hike into the interior of the reserve, many of them very demanding, but
allowing you to appreciate the wonderful landscapes of the páramo and mountains.
Visitors must be accompanied by qualified guides.
The Huasca Mocha - Mecha trail takes two days to complete hiking
8 to 10 hours per day;
It runs between the Chimborazo and the Carihuairazo Volcanoes from where one has
a beautiful view of the glaciers of both mountains. Along
this hike, it is also possible to visit sites such as Temple Machay,
which according to the locals is the first church in the country, or La
Chorrera, the canyon of the Chorrera River. with a unique landscape
vertically cut rocks up to 100 m heigh.
There is a mountain biking route from the shelter to the towns of
Urbina and San Juan.
Chimborazo vs Mount Cotopaxi
Comparing Chimborazo vs Cotopaxi, there is no doubt that Chimborazo wins
in many ways:
the snow line by car;
arrive by car to the parking lot of the first mountain hut at 4,800 masl, which
is also the trail head for mountain climbers.
The new Chimborazo Refugio or shelter where
food and hot drinks are served.
are always vehicles and buses of visitors in the parking lot at the Chimborazo
Another representative flower is the rabbit ear, Culcitium
nivale. Gentianella (Gentiana sp., Gentianella sp.), With blue-violet flowers,
Hypericum laricifolium and some common species of in the high Andes,
The vegetation in the reserve is affected by grazing with domestic animals,
such as cattle and alpacas, that are not part of the natural
ecosystem of the area. Under these conditions, there are the following predominant ecosystems in the
The evergreen high montane forest
(2,900-3,400 masl), hardly exists in the reserve,
although in some gullies, some groves of Polylepis
reticulata, o fthe genus Polylepis, which grows the
highest forests in the world, as well as,
Buddleja incana, which in the past covered large
parts of what is now páramo in Ecuador. In these
forest floor tends to be covered by a dense layer of moss.
The trees are gnarled, with trunks branched
and in some cases very inclined or almost horizontal trunks.
A Polylepis woodlet with gnarled trunks and
moss-covered forest floor.
El Hipericum is a shrub of the herbaceus paramo.
Herbaceous páramo, 3400 - 4000 masl,
with a predominantly grassy flora of Calamagrostis
and Festuca, intermixed with small shrubs. Characteristic
flora is Valeriana pilosa, Hercules Club, Puya
clava-herculis, mosses, lichens, etc.
The Hércules Club is a very primitive
bromeliad in the páramos of Ecuador.
Superpáramo or Gelidofitia develops above the
herbaceous páramo up to the the limits of the eternal snow, that is to say 4,000
- 5,000 masl.Only the most cold hardy
plants can survive under these conditions of the cold, the wind and draught.This vegetation formation grows in patches spread along the bare
soil. Plants are xerophytic, consisting of a few herbs, small shrubs,
moss and lichens. In some places in the reserve, the paramo desert is fond at a
considerably lower level. For example, the western slopes of the
Chimborazo are dry and sandy from 3,800 masl onward.
There is also a large sandy area at the southwestern side of the
volcano, similar to the puna of Bolivia, where the vegetation is scarce with few
species like Stipa, Calamagrostis, and some shrubs and grasses.
Different species of
composites with hairy leaves are characteristic of high elevations of the páramo.
Above Culcitium navale and frailejon espeletia garcibarrigae flowering, planted
near the park entrance.
Above the best developed
shrub is the Chuquiraga jussieui. Bottom: Compressed plants like hypohaeris sessilifora.
Among the characteristic
flora: Azorella pedunculata, Chuquiraga jussieui, Hypochaeris sonchoides,
Senecio microdon S. comosus, Culcitium nivale and Werneria rigida.
Above 4 700 masl, the vegetation is dominated by lichens and mosses. Vascular
plant species are few and the ones that grow are often rosettas and some shrubs
with very small leaves. Characteristic plants
are: Aciachne fl agellifera, Loricaria ferruginea, Draba aretioides,
Valeriana pilosa. The frailejon espeletia garcibarrigae
near the entrance is actually a Colombian species, not native to Ecuador.
Humboldt had mentioned the presence of "Frailexon" but there are no indications
they ever grew there. Apparently some biologist reading Humboldt's journal felt
it should be "re-introduced", but just like the Vicuña it is actually a
non-native foreign species. Yet, it is very pretty around the visitor center.
At higher elevations,
plants are very compressed, such as Werneria nubigena.
such as Werneria pygmaea, grow in cushions as a response to difficult
En la Reserva
se encuentran 145
especies endémicas conocidas.
The vicuñas are the
largest of the wild ungulates of the paramo. They need very little water and can
live in semi-desert areas. A peculiarity of this animal is that its incisive
teeth grow during most of its life, allowing them to feed on tough leaves. The
alpaca, Lama pacos, is the domesticated form of the vicuña, high in
demand for the quality of its wool. The lama,
Lama glama, the other species of domesticated South American camelids,
also lives in the Reserve as well as in other páramos of the Ecuadorian
live in the highest parts of the páramo, also known as the Puna, where the
conditions are drier, which they prefer.
There are several herds of Alpacas in the reserve.
Less common are the Lamas.
It is also possible to see Andean fox,
Lycalopex culpaeus, White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus,
Long-tailed Weasel, Mustela frenata,
semistriatus, and rodents like the Brazilian Cotontail, Sylvilagus brasiliensis,Akodon mollis,
Phyllotis andinum, and Thomasomys paramorum.
The Andean Fox is rather common
in the reserve but shy and not often seen.
The Brasilian Cottontail is an
important source of food for the Andean Fox.
White Tailed Deer are also
widely distributed in the Andes and Amazon, but again, poaching keeps them on
edge and seeing one is rather unusual.
Striped Hognose Skunks are
rather common too, but being mostly nocturnal, they are not seen very often.
The Andean Red
Brocket Deer, Mazama rufina, is
omnipresent and rather common in the Andes, although permanent persecution keeps
Pumas are widely spread
throughout the highlands and the Amazon, but they keep a safe distance from
humans and are rarely seen.
Birds often seen at the
paramo: curiquingues, Phalcoboenus carunculatus, Geranoaetus
melanoleucus and in the arenal zone one can often see very fast flying
swifts, Aeronautes montivagus. Other birds are: Ecuadorian
star hummingbird, Oreotrochilus chimborazo, and the Andean condor,
Vultur gryphus.In the Cocha Negra
lakes and in the seasonal lakes of the Urbina Paramo in Abraspungo one may see:
Paramo ducks, Anas andium, Gallinago stricklandii, paramo gulls,
Larus serranus, and Andean Lapwings, Vanellus resplendens.
With luck you
can see some condors flying over the
of the fastest birds are the swifts.
The Andean Lapwing, Vanellus
resplendens, is a common bird of the paramo.
Northern Crested Caracara, Caracara cheriway,
can often be seen in the paramo.
high up in the mountains are only a few lower vertebrates. Most notably there
are the lizards: Pholidobolus, Stenocercus guentheri and Pholido bolus
Threatened amphibians are:
Atelopus ignescens, Eleutherodactylus curtipes, Gastrotheca
riobambae, Eleutherodactylus nigrum, E. chalceus, E. unis trigatus, Colostethus
jacobuspetersi and Gastrotheca pseustes.
the rivers and lakes of the high Andes were only
inhabited by species of the "preñador" genus,
Astroblepus, but last century several species of trout
have been introduced throughout the Andean region,
forcing the preñadores to places inaccessible to trout.
The Cuyabeno Loop explores
the breathtaking scenery of lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo
Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the amazing birds and
wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing Cofan Indians in
the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of comfort in the famous
The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden
creeks and lakes is the best Amazon journey in Ecuador!
Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths,
Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the
Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing
of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní!
The Cuyabeno Lake Program
explores all the wild places surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake.
Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia trees with the whispering of the
mysterious prehistoric Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and
Yellow Macaws. Our Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location,
because we were the first and chose the best location on a
seasonal island in the Cuyabeno Lake itself.
Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a
taste of some of the best Andean National Parks,
visiting the highest groves in the world: the Polylepis
trees, the highest mountain in the world calculated from
the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and
Lamas, the highest active volcano in the world, the
Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic
journey along the best possible sample of Andean and coastal
parks. They have been designed to complement
Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places, particularly Quito,
Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days, it is possible to
make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes
and Coast" module.
A fabulous program for visiting the most
famous cultural highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the
Sacred Valley. At the same time it serves as the Lima hub
for the Peru National Parks Tour. This module is an
extension to our National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park
and/or Amazon Cruises.