Ecuador is one of the best countries in the Andes mountain range if you like trekking and hiking. Many of the best treks in Ecuador require guides, donkeys and private transport but there are some great day hikes and independent treks you can do on your own
A great day trek for experienced and inexperienced trekkers alike is one to the cave, waterfalls, and abandoned hotsprings around the active Volcano Tungurahua . Here are the directions to get there with photos below:
- From the “Terminal Orient” in Riobamba catch the bus to Palitachwa (pronounced Palitawa)
- Get off at Palitachwa and follow the road down past the village and continue past the houses destroyed by the Volcano Tungurahua on the edge of a cliff above the River Patso
- The road will continue for about 45 minutes past farmland as you get closer and closer to Volcano Tungurahua until you reach a bridge. Cross the bridge and you will go past a cement gate over the road and then you will see a basketball court and the abandoned hotsprings facilities which you can enter and explore.
- From here there are two routes that you can take one to the beautiful view of several stunning waterfalls and the other to a cave inside the Volcano Tungurahua.
- The path to both these routes starts above the abandoned hot-springs, you will see a dirt track that goes to the left and the right but for both routes you want to go to the left and climb as the path to the right only leads to the river.
- Once you take the path to the right which climbs up the hill it will split in two again; to go to the waterfalls head to the right away from Tungurahua which follows the river and to see the cave head to the left..
- The right path to the waterfalls will climb for about two hours with multiple switchbacks and past a few remote indigenous farm-houses and plantations of Eucalyptus trees (the locals are super friendly so dont forget to say “hola!”) soon the path will curve North to the left which is where you will see many beautiful and very large waterfalls.
- The left path to the cave weaves and turns on the side of the mountain. Some parts of the trail were destroyed the last time the volcano erupted so you will need to do some path finding but there are old signs that point to another hotsprings higher up that have been destroyed.
- Once you get the hotsprings that have been destroyed, you will know because of the mangled cement and rocks, keep heading further up the source of the river and climb over the rocks. Then you will be inside the Corazon de Tungurahua (The Heart of Tungurahua) the giant cave with a beautiful waterfall above it.
I dont need to say that if the volcano is spewing lava this day trek is not the best idea. Ask the locals about the safety of the volcano, if its merely “fumando / smoking” the worst thing that will happen is a bit of ash will be in your lungs but when the volcano is very active this day trek can be dangerous.
Now youve had a taste of trekking in Ecuador and want to get off the beaten track then check out Ecuadors Best Treks
You wont regret it.