Carihuairazo volcano: Ecuador’s 3-peaked volcano

carihuairazo volcano

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For the Quichuas there was a volcano that had the joint name of 3 words of their language: cari, which means man; hauaira, which means wind; and razu, which means snow. As you can see, you can already get an idea of what awaits you in the volcano of the 3 peaks of Ecuador, but today we are going to tell you more about the Carihuairazo volcano, the sleeping giant. And remember that if you want, with us you can make an ascent to Carihuairazo and discover it all.

How to get to Carihuairazo?

The Carihuairazo is a volcano that has a privileged location in Ecuador. It is located 134 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Quito, and 282 km northeast of Guayaquil.

Placed in the middle of the country, the gateway to this 5,018-meter-high volcano is usually the town of Riobamba. From there most of the tours that seek the summit of Carihuairazo depart.

This mountain is also located on the margins of the Chimborazo wildlife reserve. Here is one of the most famous volcanoes of Ecuador, the Chimborazo, famous for being the farthest point from the center of the planet earth. You can also make an ascent to Chimborazo if you feel up to it.

We can also frame the Carihuairazo within the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a name created by the naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt in 1802 for a route that runs through the 44 volcanoes that Ecuador has.

What is the best way to visit the Carihuairazo?

If you are thinking of climbing the more than 5,000 meters of the Carihuairazo we only want to give you one recommendation: do not do it on your own.

The ascent to the volcano of the 3 peaks is not an easy task, and the best and almost the only way to climb to the top is to do it with an excursion with professional guides who will not only provide you with good information about the volcano, but will also provide you with everything you need to do it comfortably.

The excursion to the Carihuairazo usually takes two days, starting as we said before from the town of Riobamba.

The first day is the acclimatization day, in which you will get in contact with the ascent to the volcano from the town. The objective is to climb up to the mountain refuge of Carihuairazo, which is located at 4,200 meters above sea level.

The next day we have to get up early. From 3 a.m. the ascent to the summit will begin. It is a path that lasts between 2 and 3 hours, and serves to reach the Carihuairazo glacier.

carihuairazo volcano information

At this point it is time to put on the crampons, and with the help of the ice axes, the ascent to the desired summit, the highest point of the Carihuairazo volcano, will continue.

As you can see, this ascent is not for everyone, only for those who really feel the adventurous flame inside. Even so, don’t worry, this climb is relatively easy, and it is usually the first one that professional climbers do as an acclimatization.

What you will see at the summit of Carihuairazo

Congratulations! You are already at the top, and now you just have to enjoy yourself.

Well, rather, on the summits, since the Carihuairazo is known as the volcano of the 3 peaks. This is because apart from the main one, there are two smaller peaks known as Mocha (4,960 meters) and Josefinos (4,900 meters).

From the Carihuairazo, on clear days you can admire a unique landscape, including views of Chimborazo and nearby towns.

chimborazo views

We have told you that the Carihuairazo is a volcano, but do not worry, it is considered inactive, since it has been many years without volcanic activity. The greatest danger of the volcano are the mud flows, such as the one that occurred in 1698 after heavy rains and destroyed some towns in the area.

Other attractions near Carihuairazo

Do you want to leave Ecuador already? Not so early. The list of attractions not only in the country, but also near Carihuairazo, is very long.

If you still have your hiking boots on, you can try other ascents such as Chimborazo or Cotopaxi. In the latter, located north of Carihuairazo, is the Cotopaxi National Park, the first to achieve this distinction in Ecuador. Its magic is not only in the volcanoes, but it is also a large reserve of fauna and vegetation typical of the area.

In the Chimborazo wildlife production reserve we can also discover not only one of the most impressive volcanoes in the world, but all kinds of animals typical of the Andes Mountains.

As you can see, Ecuador has many secrets in store for you, so try to discover them all, we assure you that it is worth it!


Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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