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CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK

 

  1. Geology

  2. Hydrology

  3. Conservation status

  4. Things to do

  5. Vegetation

  6. Mammals

  7. Birds

  8. Other critters

  9. Getting there

  10. Best Tours

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Regional map on how to get there and back.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Detailed map of the national park.

Geology

The Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve is located in the Cordillera Central of the Inter-Andean Region. Some of the main attractions of the Reserve are the two high mountains it protects: the imposing Chimborazo volcano at 6,310 masl, the highest glacier in Ecuador and the Carihuairazo at 5,020 masl. The other prime attraction are the vicuñas.

The Chimborazo massif with its three peaks stretches eastward and has a base of more than 20 km in diameter. It has not had any volcanic activity since its last eruption about 10,000 years ago.

The Chimborazo is not the highest mountain in the world measured from sea level, but its location along the equator makes its peak the furthest point away from the center of the earth. The entire peak of the Chimborazo is covered by glaciers, with the northeastern glacierflowing down to 4,600 masl. With its elevation of 6,263 m, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and the Andes in the north of Peru, where oen finds the highest peaks of the Americas.

Under clear conditions, you can see the peak of the Chimborazo from Guayaquil, about 140 km away.

Carihuairazo Volcano: It rises to 5,020 masl and has a caldera of 2 km in diameter, one of the widest in Ecuador, perhaps the only comparable to the ones of El Altar and Antisana. Lonf ago, this volcano may have been similar in size to the Chimborazo, but is final eruptions must have destroyed its cone, although it did not jeopardize its beauty.

In the past, the Indians would climb to the glacier to stock up on large blocks of ice and transport them down on mules to the villages; They were known as hieleros of Chimborazo.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: You can get in car to the chimborazo up to 4,800masl, the highest parking lot in the world.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: The peak of the Chimborazo Volcano is covered with glaciers.

You can get in car to the chimborazo up to 4,800masl, the highest parking lot in the world.

The peak of the Chimborazo is covered with glaciers.

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Hydrology

90% of the melt water of the Chimborazo flows to the Atlantic and 10% to the Pacific, running into the Guaranda River watershed. The sub-basins of the Ambato and Chambo Rivers form part of the upper basin of the Pastaza River, which flows into the Amazon. At 70 km of the Chimborazo are two hydroelectric plants: Agoyán and San Francisco, that supply electricity to Sucumbíos, Napo and Pastaza and parts of Chimborazo and Bolivar.

There is a permanent lake, Cocha Negra and several seasonal lakes near Urbina in Abraspungo.

Depending on the elevation, the annual temperature varies between 14 ° -3 ° C. The annual precipitation is 1 000 mm / year.

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Conservation status Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve

The Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve was created on October 26, 1987 by interministerial agreement No. 437 and published in the OFFICIAL REGISTER November 9, 1987 R.o. No. 806. It has an area of 58,560 ha with an altitudinal range of 3,200 - 6,310 masl.

One of the main reasons for declaring the Reserve was the (Re) -introduction of 3 of the 4 South American Camelids: llamas, domesticated animals during the Inca empire; The alpacas and the vicuñas, native species of Peru and Chile, but that adapted very well to this environment.

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Things to do

The Reserve is located at 180 km south of Quito. The nearest towns are Riobamba (28 km), Ambato (32 km) and Guaranda (25 km). In fact, the Chimborazo National Park has  a variety of things to do and see:

Hot springs: On the banks of the Colorado River is a spa called Cununyacu at 3,600 masl. This facility has three pools with hot springs from the Chimborazo. To get there, take the road to San Juan and follow the old road to Ambato (11 km).

Chimborazo Volcano: Located at 28 km northwest of Riobamba and 32 km from Ambato. The climb to its top requires sufficient experience in ice climbing. There is a new mountain hut at 4,800 masl for climbers and visitors with lodging facilities, that can be reached by car.

Volcano Carihuairazo: It rises to 5,020 masl whose climb is less popular than that of the Chimborazo.

Guided walks: Several trails allow you to hike into the interior of the reserve, many of them very demanding, but allowing you to appreciate the wonderful landscapes of the páramo and mountains. Visitors must be accompanied by qualified guides.

The Huasca Mocha - Mecha trail takes two days to complete hiking 8 to 10 hours per day; It runs between the Chimborazo and the Carihuairazo Volcanoes from where one has a beautiful view of the glaciers of both mountains. Along this hike, it is also possible to visit sites such as Temple Machay, which according to the locals is the first church in the country, or La Chorrera, the canyon of the Chorrera River. with a unique landscape vertically cut rocks up to 100 m heigh.

There is a mountain biking route from the shelter to the towns of Urbina and San Juan.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Daan Vreugdenhil, aka the "Parks Man" was part of the 1970 United Nations team that selected the national parks of Ecuador. Now sharing his 45 years as a national parks expert and explorer.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Visitors can arrive by car to the parking lot of the first mountain hut at 4,800 masl, which is also the trail head for mountain climbers.

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: More and more Ecuadorians learn to appreciate their parks, as high schools and universities take their students to the parks. CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: As regular cars can get to the world's highest parking lot at the Shelter, people of all ages can get to the snow line.

Visitors can arrive by car to the parking lot of the first mountain hut at 4,800 masl, which is also the trail head for mountain climbers.
 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: The new shelter where food and hot drinks are served.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: There are always vehicles and buses of visitors in the parking lot.

The new shelter where food and hot drinks are served.

There are always vehicles and buses of visitors in the parking lot.

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Vegetation

Flora

Another representative flower is the rabbit ear, Culcitium nivale. Gentianella (Gentiana sp., Gentianella sp.), With blue-violet flowers, Hypericum laricifolium and some common species of in the high Andes, Valeriana sp.

 

Vegetation

The vegetation in the reserve is affected by grazing with domestic animals, such as cattle and alpacas, that are not part of the natural ecosystem of the area. Under these conditions, there are the following predominant ecosystems in the area:

The evergreen high montane forest (2,900-3,400 masl), hardly exists in the reserve, although in some gullies, some groves of
Polylepis reticulata, o fthe genus Polylepis, which grows the highest forests in the world, as well as, Buddleja incana, which in the past covered large parts of what is now páramo in Ecuador. In these forests, forest floor tends to be covered by a dense layer of moss. The trees are gnarled, with trunks branched and in some cases very inclined or almost horizontal trunks.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: A Polylepis woodlet with gnarled trunks and moss-covered forest floor.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: El Hipericum is a shrub of the herbaceus paramo.

A Polylepis woodlet with gnarled trunks and moss-covered forest floor.

El Hipericum is a shrub of the herbaceus paramo.

 

Herbaceous páramo, 3400 - 4000 masl, with a predominantly grassy flora of Calamagrostis and Festuca, intermixed with small shrubs. Characteristic flora is Valeriana pilosa, Hercules Club, Puya clava-herculis, mosses, lichens, etc.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: The  Hércules Club is a very primitive bromeliad in the páramos of Ecuador.

CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Puya Clava Heracles, the Hercules Club grows at high elevations in the Andean Paramo.

CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Puya Clava Heracles, The Hercules Club belongs to the most primitive bromilia families.

The  Hércules Club is a very primitive bromeliad in the páramos of Ecuador.

 

The Superpáramo or Gelidofitia develops above the herbaceous páramo up to the the limits of the eternal snow, that is to say 4,000 - 5,000 masl. Only the most cold hardy plants can survive under these conditions of the cold, the wind and draught. This vegetation formation grows in patches spread along the bare soil. Plants are xerophytic, consisting of a few herbs, small shrubs, moss and lichens. In some places in the reserve, the paramo desert is fond at a considerably lower level. For example, the western slopes of the Chimborazo are dry and sandy from 3,800 masl onward. There is also a large sandy area at the southwestern side of the volcano, similar to the puna of Bolivia, where the vegetation is scarce with few species like Stipa, Calamagrostis, and some shrubs and grasses.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Culcitium navale, Show frailejones, reach to the snow line at 5000mCHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: the best developed shrub is the Chuquiraga jussieui.

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Senecio niveoaurus, a golden Frailejon at the park entrance.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Compressed plants like hypohaeris sessilifora.

Different species of composites with hairy leaves are characteristic of high elevations of the páramo. Above Culcitium navale and below Senecio niveoaurus.

Above the best developed shrub is the Chuquiraga jussieui. Bottom: Compressed plants like hypohaeris sessilifora.

 

Among the characteristic flora: Azorella pedunculata, Chuquiraga jussieui, Hypochaeris sonchoides, Senecio microdon S. comosus, Culcitium nivale and Werneria rigida. Above 4 700 masl, the vegetation is dominated by lichens and mosses. Vascular plant species are few and the ones that grow are often rosettas and some shrubs with very small leaves. Characteristic plants are: Aciachne fl agellifera, Loricaria ferruginea, Draba aretioides, Valeriana pilosa.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: At higher elevations, plants are very compressed, such as Werneria nubigena.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Other species, such as Werneria pygmaea, grow in cushions as a response to difficult climatic conditions.

At higher elevations, plants are very compressed, such as Werneria nubigena.

Other species, such as Werneria pygmaea, grow in cushions as a response to difficult climatic conditions.

 

En la Reserva se encuentran 145 especies endémicas conocidas.

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Mammals

The vicuñas are the largest of the wild ungulates of the paramo. They need very little water and can live in semi-desert areas. A peculiarity of this animal is that its incisive teeth grow during most of its life, allowing them to feed on tough leaves. The alpaca, Lama pacos, is the domesticated form of the vicuña, high in demand for the quality of its wool. The lama, Lama glama, the other species of domesticated South American camelids, also lives in the Reserve as well as in other páramos of the Ecuadorian highlands.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Vecuña at the refugio of the park. CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Vecuñas roam the highest and driest part of the reserve up to 5000m.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Vecuñas reach all the way to the snow line at 5000mCHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: The vicuñas live in the highest parts of the páramo, also known as the Puna, where the conditions are drier, which they prefer.

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Vecuña at just a few meters away from me.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: 6000+ Vecuñas roam freely at the chiborazo paramo.

The vicuñas live in the highest parts of the páramo, also known as the Puna, where the conditions are drier, which they prefer.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Alpacas in Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve are the domesticated form of the vicuñas.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE:

There are several herds of Alpacas in the reserve.

Less common are the Lamas.

 

It is also possible to see Andean fox, Lycalopex culpaeus, White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, Long-tailed Weasel, Mustela frenataConepatus semistriatus, and rodents like the Brazilian Cotontail, Sylvilagus brasiliensis, Akodon mollis, Phyllotis andinum, and Thomasomys paramorum.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: With luck you can see some condors flying over the páramo.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: The Brasilian Cottontail is an important source of food for the Andean Fox.

The Andean Fox is rather common in the reserve but shy and not often seen.

The Brasilian Cottontail is an important source of food for the Andean Fox.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: White Tailed Deer are also widely distributed in the Andes and Amazon, but again, poaching keeps them on edge and seeing one is rather unusual. CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Striped Hognose Skunks are rather common too, but being mostly nocturnal, they are not seen very often.

White Tailed Deer are also widely distributed in the Andes and Amazon, but again, poaching keeps them on edge and seeing one is rather unusual.

Striped Hognose Skunks are rather common too, but being mostly nocturnal, they are not seen very often.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: The Andean Red Brocket Deer,  Mazama rufina, is omnipresent and rather common in the Andes, although permanent persecution keeps them wary. CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Pumas are widely spread throughout the highlands and the Amazon, but they keep a safe distance from humans and are rarely seen.

The Andean Red Brocket Deer,  Mazama rufina, is omnipresent and rather common in the Andes, although permanent persecution keeps them wary.

Pumas are widely spread throughout the highlands and the Amazon, but they keep a safe distance from humans and are rarely seen.

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Birds

Birds often seen at the paramo: curiquingues, Phalcoboenus carunculatus, Geranoaetus melanoleucus and in the arenal zone one can often see very fast flying swifts, Aeronautes montivagus. Other birds are: Ecuadorian star hummingbird, Oreotrochilus chimborazo, and the Andean condor, Vultur gryphus. In the Cocha Negra lakes and in the seasonal lakes of the Urbina Paramo in Abraspungo one may see: Paramo ducks, Anas andium, Gallinago stricklandii, paramo gulls, Larus serranus, and Andean Lapwings, Vanellus resplendens.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: With luck you can see some condors flying over the páramo.CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: Some of the fastest birds are the Collared swifts.

With luck you can see some condors flying over the páramo.

Some of the fastest birds are the swifts.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: CHIMBORAZO WILDLIFE RESERVE: The Northern Crested Caracara, Caracara cheriway, can often be seen in the paramo.

The Andean Lapwing, Vanellus resplendens, is a common bird of the paramo.

Northern Crested Caracara, Caracara cheriway, can often be seen in the paramo.

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Other Critters

So high up in the mountains are only a few lower vertebrates. Most notably there are the lizards: Pholidobolus, Stenocercus guentheri and Pholido bolus montium.

Threatened amphibians are: Atelopus ignescens, Eleutherodactylus curtipes, Gastrotheca riobambae, Eleutherodactylus nigrum, E. chalceus, E. unis trigatus, Colostethus jacobuspetersi and Gastrotheca pseustes.

 

CHIMBORAZO NATIONAL PARK: Originally, the rivers and lakes of the high Andes were only inhabited by species of the "preñador" genus, Astroblepus, but last century several species of trout have been introduced throughout the Andean region, forcing the preñadores to places inaccessible to trout.

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Getting there

In fact, to the Chimborazo National Park you have 3 options:

  • The Panamerican Highway, which passes by the eastern part of the Reserve, from where you can takes the turnoff to Sigsipamba - Cuatro Esquinas - Route de los Hieleros;

  • The Ambato - Guaranda highway, which crosses the Reserve near the western boundary and which takes you to the Abraspungo and Carihuairazo valleys;

  • The road to the town of San Juan, which departs from Riobamba and from where you can reach La Chorrera– Templo Machay – Cuartel Inca – Yanarumi.

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Best tours

Dear visitor, our website gives you info about our National Parks Tours, Cuyabeno Loop, as well as our Cuyabeno  and Cofan Lodges in the Amazon.   For those who want to combine the Exuberant Nature of Ecuador with the Famous culture of Peru, we even have a 7 days Highlights of Peru extension! Here you can find our Prices. Our website has hundreds of high-resolution pictures of National Parks and monuments of Ecuador, with thumbnails that open by clicking on them. If you love our pictures or find our info useful you can help others finding our pages too you can share them from the mobile menu bar with a

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