The beautiful Chimborazo Volcano with a old house in the foreground and heavy clouds in the sky in Ecuador | LM Spencer

Chimborazo, a dormant stratovolcano located in Ecuador, is one of the most significant landmarks in the country. It forms part of the Andes mountain range, the longest continental mountain range in the world. Chimborazo’s peak is notable for its distinction as the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. This is due to the planet’s oblate spheroid shape, with an equatorial bulge resulting from its rotation.

Situated in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes, Chimborazo is roughly 150 kilometers south-southwest of the capital, Quito. It towers 6,268 meters above sea level, making it Ecuador’s highest peak and the highest peak in close proximity to the equator. Due to its unique geographical location and height, Chimborazo’s peak offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscapes.

Sunset in the Andes mountain range, the last rays of sun touch the Chimborazo and the Carihuairazo | Santiago Salinas

Chimborazo also holds cultural significance in Ecuador. Its name is derived from the indigenous language of Quichua and translates to “Women on the other side.” It is also known as “Taita Chimborazo,” which means “Father Chimborazo,” symbolizing its revered status within local communities. The mountain also has historical significance as for years it was considered the highest mountain in the world before modern measurements revealed Mount Everest’s superior height.

The slopes of Chimborazo are home to a rich array of wildlife, including vicuñas, a wild relative of llamas. The mountain also serves as a watershed supplying water to surrounding cities and villages. However, climbing Chimborazo presents serious challenges due to its extreme altitude and unpredictable weather conditions.

Chimborazo is not only a geographical marvel but also a symbol of Ecuador’s rich cultural heritage. Nestled in the majestic Andes, it stands as a testament to Mother Nature’s grandeur and diversity.

Extinct volcano Chimborazo, at sunset, the highest of Ecuador | Ecuador postales

Fast Facts

Country: Ecuador

State/Province: Chimborazo Province

Mountain Range: Cordillera Occidental Range, Andes

Parents: Andes, Cordillera Occidental

Elevation: 20,549 feet / 6,263 meters

Prominence: 13,510 feet / 4,118 meters

Isolation: 526 mi / 846 km

Nearest Higher Neighbor (NHN): Nevado Huandoy

First Ascent: January 4, 1880, by Edward Whymper with Italian guides Louis Carrel and Jean-Antoine Carrel. Subsequently, the route and summit were both named after him, known as the Whymper route and Whymper summit. This climb made them the first Europeans to summit a peak over 20,000 feet. Critics doubted the claim that Whymper reached the summit, so he climbed it again the next year via the Pogyos route with the Ecuadorians David Beltrán and Francisco Campaña.

Fun Fact: Chimborazo is the highest peak in Ecuador. It is also believed to be the farthest point from the Earth’s center.

Sunset on Chimborazo | Vitor Lando

Plant Life: Quinua is a sacred Inca plant that grows in the area and acts as an excellent food source. Bromeliads including the pineapple grow in Chimborazo’s warm climate and also provide food. The geraniaceae plant species is also common to the area, with its most popular plant being the lovely geranium. Piquiles, rosemary, quishuares, sigses and chuquiraguas also grow in the region.

Animal Life: Camelids (a member of both the llama and alpaca family), alpacas, llamas, wolves, deer, marsupial rats, skunks, and Amazonian rabbits can all be found in the Chimborazo area.

Bird Life: The Ecuadorian hillstar, tawny-breasted tinamou, black-bellied whistling duck, sickle-winged guan, rufous-fronted wood quail, pied-billed grebe, oilbird, common potoo, common nighthawk, chestnut-collared swift, fiery topaz, white-throated crake, sungrebe, limpkin, striped cuckoo, rufescent tiger heron, great blue heron, turkey vulture, osprey, ruddy pigeon, great egret, white-tipped dove, gray-fronted dove, rock dove, and pallid dove are among the numerous bird species that be found in the Chimborazo area.

Flora and Fauna

Vicugna is a wild South American camelid, which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes. It is a relative of the llama. Stratovolcano Chimborazo, in the Cordillera Occidental, central Ecuador. | Ksenia Ragozina

Chimborazo, a majestic peak nestled in the heart of Ecuador, holds a prominent position not only for its towering height but also for the diverse flora and fauna it hosts. This stratovolcano, the highest mountain in Ecuador and a part of the Andes range, is home to an array of wildlife and vegetation that are unique to its high-altitude environment.

The flora on Chimborazo is resilient, adapted to thrive in the harshest of weather conditions. The vegetation zones change as one ascends the mountain, starting from the dense and lush forest at the base to the barren and icy peak. The lower zone is characterized by montane forests and páramo, a high-altitude tropical ecosystem. These regions are home to a variety of endemic plant species such as Polylepis trees, shrubs like Chuquiraga jussieui, cushion plants and grasses.

A herd of llamas on the huge volcano, Chimborazo | Emiliano Barbieri

Chimborazo’s fauna is equally impressive. The mountain’s slopes serve as a habitat for a plethora of animal species. Among them, the most notable is the endangered Andean condor, a bird that symbolizes the power and freedom of the Andean mountains. Other fauna includes mammals such as white-tailed deer, spectacled bear, pumas, and rabbits, all adapted to survive in the challenging environment of Chimborazo.

Moreover, this mountain also hosts a significant population of Vicuñas, a camelid native to the high Andes. Previously extinct in Ecuador due to excessive hunting, they were reintroduced to the Chimborazo area in the 1980s and have since become an integral part of the local ecosystem.

Chimborazo Volcano in Ecuador | LM Spencer

Chimborazo in Ecuador presents an intriguing case study of harsh yet thriving biodiversity. Both its flora and fauna exhibit remarkable resilience and adaptability, reflecting the extraordinary diversity that characterizes Ecuador’s Andes mountains.


Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador and the closest point to the sun on Earth, offers some of the most scenic and diverse trails in the entire Andes range. Enthralled by the majestic peaks of the Andes, many adventurers from around the globe are drawn to Ecuador for its unique trekking experience.

The trails near Chimborazo are carefully curated to cater to different levels of trekking skills. The most popular trail is the climb to the Whymper summit, named after English mountaineer Edward Whymper who made the first ascent in 1880. This strenuous hike through rocky terrains and snow-clad slopes rewards trekkers with an awe-inspiring view of the Ecuadorian landscape. For those looking for less challenging trails, there’s an option to hike up to the Carrel refuge, a route that offers equally stunning views of Chimborazo’s snow-capped peak against a backdrop of clear, blue skies.

Another notable trail is the one leading to Carihuairazo, Chimborazo’s neighboring mountain. This trail takes hikers through a variety of landscapes, including lush paramo grasslands and ancient glacial valleys. The trail offers panoramic views of both Chimborazo and Carihuairazo, providing a unique perspective on these Andean giants.

Finally, the Chimborazo wildlife reserve trail is an absolute must for nature lovers. The reserve is home to a wide range of Andean wildlife including vicuñas, Andean foxes, and a variety of bird species. As you explore this trail, you’ll get a chance to witness these creatures in their natural habitat while soaking in the reserve’s breathtaking scenery.

Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or a casual hiker, the trails near Chimborazo in Ecuador offer an unparalleled trekking experience. With their diverse terrains and stunning vistas, these trails truly capture the essence of the Andes.


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