The Altar (5319 m. / 17.451 ft.) is one the most spectacular mountains of Ecuador. The Incas called it Capac Urcu - sublime mountain. A long time ago, El Altar was the highest volcano of Ecuador, and some studies even say that it was the highest of the world. A huge eruption almost completely destroyed the cone, leaving 9 snow-capped summits in a horseshoe shape around an enormous crater lake. El Altar is part of the Sangay National Park, that is home to spectacled bears, condors, Andean gulls, white-tailed deers and foxes.
We leave Riobamba at 9.00. After a 1-hour drive we reach a hacienda near the entrance of Sangay National Park, at 3070 m. / 10.072 ft. altitude. We put our equipment on pack horses and start the hike. If the weather is clear, after some time we will enjoy the first views of the volcano and the valley of Collanes river. We hike for about 6 hours until we reach the Collanes shelter at 3830 m. / 12.566 ft., where we will spend the night.