Tungurahua
About
Considered one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes, this strato-volcano (a volcano that almost constantly emits gas and vapor) towers more than three kilometers above its northern base with a crater measuring more than 400 meters in diameter.
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4.5
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17
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Robert O
Rotterdam, The Netherlands5,429 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
Eventually I did not hike up the normal route to the summit of 5.023 m high Tungurahua. The problem is not the difficulty of the terrain, but the approach, orientation and gear you need. Moreover there is the weather factor.

Baños is at 1850 m, while the trail starts at the national park entrance near (not at) the hamlet of Pondoa (altitude 2540 m). There is no public transportation to Pondoa (only to Juive at 5 km distance from Pondoa). The alternative to walking up is to take a taxi.

There is a refugio at >3800 m. This facility is more like a shelter. There is water, a stove and a pot to boil water, mattresses, but no blankets. It costs 10$ to stay there overnight (payable in Pondoa or at the park entrance). It takes 4 hours to get from the park entrance to the refugio. There is a trail.

From the refugio most groups take 6 hours to get to the summit. The reason why hikers take so much time is scree. You sink into it, so two steps up is one down. To get down goes faster, but is hard on the knees (three hours to get back to the refugio). From the refugio down to the park entrance most hikers need another 4 hours. All quite doable.

However, you have to take into account that the route from the refugio to the summit is NOT marked and when there is fog difficult to find. There are no detailed maps, so even with a compass it is difficult, when weather conditions are bad (wind, rain, hail, snow, fog). Weather forecasts in the Andes are unreliable.

Gear can be rented in Baños. Minimal requirements: you need good shoes (often the right sizes for westerners are not available), a sleeping bag, wind and waterproof jacket, warm clothes, a headlamp if you decide to start hiking at night.

An option is to take a guide. Tour organizers quote a price of 200$ per person which includes gear, transport to the park entrance, use of the refugio, meal. Prices are perhaps negotiable if you manage to get a (large) group together.

Best views of the route are from Las Antennas on a hill north of the Pastaza river near Baños. If you cross the main bridge near the Baños bus terminal towards the north and walk up the road a bit, you can assess the weather conditions on the north side of the volcano, as the summit is very well visible.

The fantasy map of the tourist office mixes up north and south, east and west!
Written February 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

pfefmeister
San Francisco, CA4,174 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Couples
We lucked out with perfect weather during our three days in Banos. Tungurahua was always visible as it towered over the canyon imbedded town of Banos. Views from the Tree House were especially impressive. No volcanic activity during our stay, but that was OK.
Written January 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elias_Rovielo
Sao Caetano do Sul, SP1,186 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
I hired the Ivagatours travel agency to do several tours around Baños.

One of the tours was the climb to the top of the volcano for two days.
My mountaineer and private guide was Ñato. No one on the trails, refuge or summit.

*****

A two day hiking and climbing.
It is no longer acclimatization to high altitudes. It's a serious climb with a private guide. There was no one but us for two days.

Because of the snow avalanches, it is advisable to get up at dawn, as the snow is still solid and down shortly after the morning sun starts to get strong, shortly after 7:00 am.

It's my first climb to mountain peaks or volcanoes in the dark of the cold, starless dawn.

***The FIRST Day of Climbing:

Rent appropriate equipment for this volcano (rain, cold, snow, sand, stone, darkness, etc.)

The mountaineering guide, Ñato, and I left Baños at 2:30 pm.

We arrived at the park entrance, signed the official papers, paid the required and started up the well-marked and steep trail from the park entrance to the Refugio. It is usually 4 hours of trail (5km/3,1mi).
We left at 3:28 pm from the park entrance at 2,790 meters (9,153 ft) and arrived at the Refuge at 3,810 meters (12,500 ft) at 6:00 pm. We managed to do it in 2.5h. I stopped several times to photograph the blue sky, mountains, nature, etc. I wanted to see the sunset at 6:20 pm. from the "Refugio" and we saw the beautiful sunset.
We had seafood risotto dinner at 6:54 pm.
We slept from 7:40 pm to 1:30 am.

***The SECOND day of Climbing:

Waking up, light breakfast taken and we prepared with the proper equipment at 1:30 am.
We start climbing at 2:00 am from the Refuge at 3,810 meters (12,500 ft) to the summit of the Throat of Fire volcano. At 6:52 am, we reached the summit of the volcano at 5,023 meters (16,479 ft).

A few minutes to five full hours of dawn climb, a part with rain, full dark and just a forehead flashlight to illuminate, steep, loose and slippery rocks, soft sand, snow in the final 40 minutes, very cold in the glacial region, 6ºC (42,8ºF) at the summit (but on the way at dawn it was colder), no music to hear the guide's instructions, loneliness, attention, tiredness, fear, new, and an accomplished achievement of a 54-year-old man. My physical and mental limit has been tested again.

36 minutes at the summit of the mega volcano, as the wind is sharp and cold, and the descent before the glacier begins to melt with the Ecuadorian sun.

The descent is rapid, but it is much more tiring and the knees have to be physically well prepared to withstand the ligament grip. Go down the volcano seeing the cliffs? You don't see anything rising at dawn, but you know it will rise at 5,000 meters (16,404 ft).

* From 7:29 am to 9:09 am (1h: 39m) - 5,023 meters to 3,810 meters (1km21m) (from the summit to Refuge);
* From 9:28 am to 11:43 am (3:16 am) - 3,810 meters to 2,800 meters (1km10m) (from Refuge to Park Entrance);

There are four quick steps downhill in one go with photo stops, rest and breakfast in the refuge:
From 5,023 meters (16,479 ft) to 2,800 meters (9,186 ft) (2km220m/1,37 miles downhill in zig zag and steep in 4h: 45m).

1º) The first part of the glacier with snow. Slippery and loose stones with snow;

2º) The second part of the ash of the volcano, that is, soft sand with loose and hard stones;

3º) Low vegetation until the Refuge. At the Refuge, we change clothes, clean the place, put everything in our backpacks, and go down after a quick coffee to the park entrance;

4º) From the refuge to the entrance of the park the trail is demarcated and the vegetation increases the volume and height.

I had the next day the largest volcano in the world, the Chimborazo, the volcano with the farthest peak from the center of the earth and closer to the sun, higher than Everest.

I descended this volcano by mountain bike. After Chimborazo, I climbed two more volcanoes. In total there were 8 climbs in Ecuador in 18 days.
Written February 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MilosStepita
Phuket, Thailand111 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2017 • Couples
So we wanted to climb a Tungurahua volcano. First I wanted to go by ourselves and just get to the Refugio and then maybe try to go little bit higher and if it's too difficult we would return. My girlfriend however wanted to summit the top and that's why we decided to take a guide. We looked around Banos for some agencies that offer the ascent and found one agency called MTS Adventure with a young boy 23 names Jon who was very keen on taking us up there for 360 dollars. It seemed expensive, but he talked proffesionaly about how he has all the equipment needed, crampons, harnesses, helmets, ropes and how you need all this and a guide to get to the top.
First we had to rebook our trip because he was not free. Then on the day of departure to the refugio he said we should leave at 1:30 PM. We got there at 1:00 to check everything and HAD TO WAIT until 2:30 for his boss to bring tje money for our food. Then we had to go with them to the shop to choose what food we needed. They had 2 days to do this. I was getting angry as by the time we reached the Park entrance it was already after 3 PM. We had another 3 hours to hike to Refugio and wanted to acclimitize properly and take our time before the sunset to prepare for next hard day. We got there just before 6 and then we had to cook dinner and prepare everything in the dark. Little did we know this was just a begining of terrible journey.
The plan was to wake up at 5AM and leave the refugio by 6AM. The irrisponsible guide Jon woke up at 5am and said it's too cloudy and that we should sleep more. Then at 6 AM I asked him what's the time and he just said it's still cloudy and that we should sleep another half an hour. In my mind I was thinking that it doesn's really matter if it's cloudy maybe it will clear up as we ascend and that it's really time to go. So I woke up and we started preparing. After he started hurrying us up with packing and DIDN'T CHECK if we or he has everything. I almost forgot my gloves in that hurry. We left refugio at about 7 Am.
After about 20 minutes of hiking I was just quickly checking everything and asked if he had everything. I asked if he had harnesses.
Of course he forgot them down there and he had to go back for them. I am very suspicious that he left them there on purpose.
As we ascended it was very steep and the gravel was quite slippery. He didn't help us at all here even tho we should have been tied together with a rope. If we didn't have our own hiking sticks this hike would be almost impossible.
The path was visible very clearly and we actually went in the front most of the way because his knee hurt. So pretty much most of the way he was useless to us we only had to wait for him.
Then my girlfriend started to get tired and terrain was very steep and slippery. I suggested to use the equipment he was talking so much about and that he should have in cases like this. He said we DON'T NEED the equipment. And this was the hardest part. I asked him why did he bring all the equipment then. He got then angry and started unpacking crampons that were so old and almsot falling apart. They didnt fit my shoes and were slipping up as I walked with them. Then I asked him if it's not too dangerous and shouldn't we use the rope.
He said OK then!!! With anger building up in him. He didn't give us harnesses, which I doubt he knows how to use. He just went up few meters and handed us the rope to climb while he was holding it. He did this 3 times and then told us to walk on steep again.
Luckily we made it up to crater, the path there is very easy to follow and you don't need a useless guide to pay to watch you. He didn't even tell us to have a break to eat, he wanted to eat after we descend back to refugio. I just started eating there cause I knew we will need the energy.
From the crater it was only half an hour more till the top and again an easy ascent without any equipment. So pretty much till the top we wouldn't need ANY of his equipment, we only used it because I asked.
We reached the top at around 1:30PM. He was assuring us that we will RUN down to refugio in 2 hours. I knew that my girlfriend is a slower descender and it would take us more than that. We got again to that steep and slippery part and he just told us to walk sideways. Wow what an advice. I told him again shouldn't we be tied together just in case? He told me no, that if somebody falls they will pull others down too. My girlfriend was very scared to go down and slipped few times. The useless guide Jon just kept descending in front of us. Only after I asked again if he can help my girlfriend descend he came back up. I mentioned that we could just use the rope like before to descend faster. He said ok then!! With anger in his face. We started descending much faster when we each hold the rope for security. I suscpect thst we would not even make it to refugio before sumset if I didn't insist on using the rope.
After the steep part we were able to descend without rope again. The useless guide started going fast down again leaving us behind.
Before refugio there was one last steep part and my girlfriend was very tired amd slipping up a lot, almost even falling down and dying at one point. He was just looking from down at us not bothering to come up to help us as we were strugglimg to survive the descend. Only after I shouted at him to come back up he started going up to help us.
Did we pay for somebody to jst watch us if we obviously needed a help? 360 dollars !!!!
I was so outraged told him how bad he is, mainlx because this was our lives amd safety in dangers and this guy just took the money and ran down by himself.
I thought the worse was behind us. We reached the refugio at around 5 PM. He hurried us again to go quickly down before it gets dark. He stayed in refugio longer to pack all the useless equipment that he didn't plan to use. So we started the descend by ourselves. After an hour it got dark and my gf knee started to hurt more and more. He went little bit with us, but after he saw how slow my gf is descending and how she is suffering he took off and we didn't see him again.
I had to carry my gf heavy bavkpack together with mine, while she was crying from agonysing knee pain. Our pace slowed down even more and we didnt even know if he will wait for us down at the park entrance with a transport down to Banos which is half an hour ride.
I was loosing the hope for humanity again, we paid so much money to a guy who just left us there in pain without any help.
After the worst half an hour of pain and crying descned we finally reached the entrance. The guide was waiting there and asked if we were ok. I just told him to shut up and other bad words that i cant mention here.
He made up a lie that his knee was hurting amd he just got there just 5 minutes before us, which was a complete lie judging by how fast he was descending. Fortunatelly we got safe to Banos, my gf with severe knee pain and crying. He just aplologized after he saw how miserable we were, but you could see he didnt really mean it.
I hope this post reaches more people and exposes the scammers like this who just take money and are of no use and have no morality and repsonsibility.
These scammers should go to police, I dont recommed taking a useless uncertified amd expensive guide to Tungurahua, it's doable on your own, just sleep in refugio on the way down too to avoid long descend.
I wish there was another way to expose these frauds other than warning on tripadvisor. I hope whoever reads this can spread the warning about dangerous practises of these guides amd agencies.
Thank you.
Written December 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Thecanadianreviewer
Buenos Aires, Argentina24 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2013 • Couples
Active volcanoe? Awesome! We took a taxi from Banos to Pandoa ($15) which is where the hike starts.

It took us 2 1/2 hours up (we're fairly fit) to the Refugio. (hint - the first one isn't THE Refugio - go up to the left for 2 minutes more). The hike up takes you through cool tunnels and is fairly easy gradient.

We went past the Refugio's about 500m more up which required some scrambling through the scree to the 'stop' point - highly recommend!
Written January 16, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

shutchisca
Toronto, Canada86 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2013 • Couples
When we were there in Dec 2011, the lava was spewing and the ground rumbled on occassion. We received a lot of questions from people then as to whether or not they should go. At the time we were there, they were on the verge of evacuating the town due to falling ash. However, my advice then was GO TO BANOS!!! If it is too dangerous, they will evacuate and you will have to leave. If it is not, you will have the experience of a lifetime! Why travel if you are not willing to step out of your comfort zone? Many people live in the area. There is an alarm system but it is highly unlikely that you will be evacuated. Our case was unusual and the ash stopped and there was no evacuation. There is also another large hill for the lava to cross before it can reach the town. So, it would be virtually impossible for the town to be surprised by a sudden lava flow.

How many times in your life will you have the opportunity to view an active volcano with lava bursting high into the air and then flowing down the mountside?

On the last night of our visit the ash became extremely thick. We bought masks and walked the streets to take in the excitement. Children used their fingers to write their names in the ash on a car. The taffy makers continued to pull their taffy in the street as the ash fell. We vowed not to buy taffy on that day.

This is one of the safest places to view an active volcano. I hope that it will be active during your visit. If it is, that is the best reason to see Banos. If it is not, go anyway. Banos is beautiful and the people are very welcoming. They rely on tourism for their livelihood.

Just imagine hiking up a mountain at dusk to see the lights of the town below slowly come to life. You hear the volcano but you can barely see an amber glow through the dimming light. As darkness falls, the amber glow gives way to brighter reds and yellows. WIthin minutes the crackling and roaring sounds reveal their source. The lava shoots up with a tremendous force and leaves you awe struck at the spectacle.

You are safe and secure on another mountain, far enough to be safe but close enough to take this tremendous force of nature.

Don't forget your warm clothes and water and take some money to buy home made ice cream from the lovely family who sells ice cream at the Bellavista viewpoint. On a side note, please beware of buying the local moonshine. There were a few deaths reported when we were there.

I tried to find the hike on a map but I was unable to find it. It was an intermediate hike. It took us an hour at a fair clip but give yourself extra time if you are not accostomed to the altitude or hiking up mountains. Just ask one of the locals how to hike to Bellavista and if you don't mind, please send me a message and I will update this review with the details.

There is an alternate way to get to the top. You can take a 'chivas';a loud party bus. You can buy tickets from one of the many vendors in town. It is wise to check the weather to determine if it will be cloudy before you make your trip because in cloud, you will see nothing.

I had read a lot of reviews suggesting that we watch the action from the bridge on the edge of town. For us, this locale presented a very disappointing view. You could barely see the volcano in the distance.

I hope you have a wonderful time. If you find this review helpful, please let me know. If you have questions, I will try to answer them.
Written January 21, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lucretia P
Turks and Caicos20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2018 • Friends
THis is a beautiful volcano in Ecuador near the town of Banos. There is a road leading up the mountain away from Banos going toward Palate where you can find a swing. The view from the swing in breathtaking of the Tungurahua volcano and valley.
Written January 21, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AndyandLisatravels
Amsterdam, The Netherlands86 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2015
My girlfriend and I were staying in baños for 4 days (at destiny hotel) and we decided why not climb the volcano we had heard about. Instead of joining an early tour we just hailed a taxi and asked to drive up to pondoa (a town near the volcano). The drive was very scenic and cost $15. He then drove us even further for around 30 mins off road to get to the start of the walking track for an additional $5 and waited there for $5 per hour. From here we walked straight toward the volcano with a magnificent approach. It was around 15 min walk to get on to the main lava flow carved out of the side of the Mountain from the 2014 eruption. What was amazing is that we did not see a single person, it was the two of us for 2 hours walking up the volcano, listening to it rumble and spew out ash, and have a nice picnic on the old lava flow. The view is unbelievable and the tranquility and lack of any other people makes this an amazing experience. Surely it is one of the top active volcano climbs given the beauty and complete lack of people. It is a 100% must do if you are in baños at the moment.
Written October 19, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Joy733
Austin, TX118 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2015 • Friends
The driver was excellent, as was the lunch, canoe trip & hike. The guide didn't speak much English so English speakers got about 25% of the info. The zoo was depressing. Hopefully it will be upgraded to be focused on rehabilitation. The visit to the Quecha village was disappointing as there was little demonstrated or explained. Throughout it would have been great to learn more about how what we were seeing has been important to the Quecha people. They took very good care of us throughout, esp. in the river & in the rain. The rope swing was not as pictured in the advertisement. So there was no harness, just a piece of wood to put between your legs. One woman did get a minor injury early on getting ready to swing & decided not to do it. Others were discouraged from doing it when they saw how risky the set up is.
Written April 7, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

born2travelit
Cesena, Italy17,088 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2015 • Couples
active since 1999, it scares sometimes the city of banos with its eruptions. worth a trekking but only with expert guides. recommend
Written March 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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