This is one of the many snow-capped mountains that exist in the rich Ecuadorian nature. Here you can observe a glacier next to a small lagoon product of the thaws. In the South Iliniza and in the rocks in the North Iliniza or Tionisa, climbing in snow and ice is practiced
The Nevado los Ilinizas is located between the provinces of Pichincha and Cotopaxi. It extends from 800 meters above sea level to 5,305 meters above sea level, which is the summit of the South Iliniza. The North Illiniza reaches 5,116 meters. The temperature is 0 degrees Celsius in the high zone and reaches a maximum of 24 degrees Celsius in the low zone.
Due to its difficult access, the biological diversity of Ilinizas is still a mystery. Climbing the summit of Iliniza is a fascinating experience, but we recommend the season from August to December, due to the absence of rain. Conquering the summit of the North Iliniza is relatively simple, you do not need special equipment such as ropes, pickaxes or insurance, on the other hand, only expert climbers can reach the summit of the South.
Etymologically, the south should be called Ilinizas and the north Tiopniza. Words originating from the Atacameño and that mean respectively male hill and female hill.
Legend has it that Iliniza Sur, who was the wife of the snowy Iliniza Norte, fell in love with the Cotopaxi volcano and the Rumiñahui volcano warned of the affair, which destroyed Mount Corazón, son of the Ilinizas, whose painful cry formed the Quilotoa lagoon. That is why the Cotopaxi is almost always cloudy, it hides because it is ashamed of having damaged a marriage.
The Ilinizas are generally believed to be the best acclimatization mountains in Ecuador, and are often used as a preparatory ascent for higher peaks such as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and Cayambe.
The temperature at the top of the volcano is 0° C and can reach 24°C at the bottom. Thanks to this there is a great variety of flora, among the plant species you can see the cedar, walnut, wax laurel, alder, jiguas, palm branches, fig tree, chicken blood, pambil, achupalla, the canelo, myrtle, moral bobo, chinchín, sacha chocho, romerillo, pumamaqui, among others. You can also enjoy lichens, ferns, bromeliads and orchids, the trees are characterized by being loaded with mosses.
Its fauna has a great diversity of species, 44 mammals, 47 amphibians and reptiles and 257 birds; among the mammals we can mention the spectacled bear, puma, cervicabra, moor wolf, bats, insectivores, raposa, guanta.
The amphibians include glass frogs, marsupial frogs, lizards of the genus pholidobolus, the avifauna is represented by giant gralaria, corcovado, dorsioscuro, yellow-eared parrot, toucan, black partridge, buzzard, parrot sparrow, among others.
Some of the activities that take place in this place are hiking, trekking, biking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, camping.
If you plan to summit the Ilinizas, we remind you of some physical requirements and technical difficulties; The volcano is excellent for those who need to acclimatize or for those who wish to do a challenging hike combined with non-technical climbing in a beautiful setting. For the experienced hiker or beginner climber, the north peak is a truly fun climb with some exciting scrambling. It offers great opportunities to view the volcanic craters, the Paramo and the entire Avenue of the Volcanoes.
Duration of the ascent
The climb takes approximately 6 hours reaching an altitude of 5126 m (16817 ft). It is important that you are prepared for this kind of altitude. Therefore, we recommend acclimatization for at least two days around 3000 m (9842 ft).
As mentioned, to climb Illinizas, no experience is required and these are some of the equipment that are recommended for use: polar jacket, polar pants, harness, snow boots, ice axe, crampons, gloves, helmet, poles, glacier goggles, mittens.
For travelers in the mood for a little speed, mountain biking in Ecuador is also a great opportunity to explore the country, so don’t hesitate to ask about this amazing activity.
How to get there?
The entrance to Los Ilinizas is from the Panamerican Highway through the Jambelí bridge, 11 kilometers away, passing through the town of Sigchos. Entrance is free and there are several recreational activities such as mountaineering, camping, bird watching, among others.