Collanes (or Altar) Trail

Duration: 3 days – 2 nights

Walking distance: 20km

Rating: Moderately Difficult*

Altitude: We will hike from 3070 up to 4300masl and back.

Best time to visit: December through February are the driest months. April and May are the wettest, when the plains can be extremely soggy and the mud very deep. July and August are coldest.

Observations: This is a challenging and physically demanding trek, because of the high altitude, cold weather and the muddy trail. If raining, mud slogging and cold may add some extra difficulties to it. Even under the more ideal conditions water streams keep parts of the route muddy all year around. Weather in the sierra can change regardless of the season; so raining boots and waterproof clothing are a must. We will carry in our backpacks sleeping bags, clothing and food, which may add a little difficulty because of the weight. Tents, insulating mats, gas tanks and burners will not be needed since we will be staying in a shelter and not in tents. If the use of pack animals is preferred, it can be arranged at an extra price.

TREK DESCRIPTION: The Ecuadorian Andes are dotted with many extinct volcanic cones, but none is as awe-inspiring as that of El Altar. The Collanes plain was carved by glaciation subsequent to the collapse of the crater, and is equally worthy of admiration. We will walk from the hacienda Releche at 3070m to the Collanes Plain at 3830m the first day, enjoy a day hike to the Laguna de Collanes (also knows as Laguna Amarilla) at 4300m the second day, and return to the hacienda and later to Quito the third day. We will encounter marvelous views of the Altar, the Collanes Plain and the Laguna Amarilla throughout the trek.

ITINERARY:

Day 1

9:00

We leave from Riobamba and drive for an hour to the Hacienda Releche (3070masl), closed to the entrance of the Sangay National Park.

10:00

We start our walk on a trail that climbs steeply uphill alongside fenced pastures. No long after having started, we will be in the hills above the hacienda, with views to the valley of Río Blanco, its fields and pastures. Some time later we will be crossing a stream and entering the narrower valley of the Río Collanes. From here the trail becomes narrower and muddier, and several side streams will cross along the way, making for an undulating track, getting an additional glimpse of the cirque of El Altar at each turn. In about six to seven hours, depending on the depth of the mud on the trail, we will get to the Collanes Plain and the Collanes shelter (3830masl), where we will have dinner and spend the night. The Collanes shelter has beds and kitchen, so we will only need to bring our sleeping back and food to cook.

Day 2

This day we will enjoy a day hike from Collanes to the Laguna of Collanes, also knows as Laguna Amarilla. From the shelter we will continue walking toward the crater of El Altar, finding superb views of the mountain in clear weather and many waterfalls over the nearby cliffs. In about four hours we will get to Laguna Amarilla at 4300masl, the highest point of this trek. We will have impressive views of the turquoise-green lake and the snow-capped peaks. We will have lunch here and enjoy ourselves in this beautiful place, and afterwards we will walk for around two and a half hours back to the shelter, where we will have dinner and spend the night.

Day 3

After breakfast we will return to the hacienda in about five hours. We will have lunch at the hacienda and then return to Quito to arrive at night.

*This trek doesn’t contemplate the use of pack animals, since we will spend both nights at the Collanes shelter. Therefore tents, insulating mats, gas tanks and burners will not be needed. We will carry in our backpacks sleeping bags, clothing and food, which may add a little difficulty because of the weight. If the use of pack animals is preferred, it can be arranged at an extra price.

INCLUDED:

  • Accomodation in hotel at Riobamba
  • Accomodation at the Collanes shelter
  • Food and beverages during the trek (breakfast, lunch box and dinner)
  • Private transportation
  • Bilingual mountain guide
  • Entrance to the Sangay National Park

NOT INCLUDED:

  • Pack animals
  • Personal equipment (sleeping bag, mat)
  • Tips

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Small towel
  • Raining boots
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Long sleeves and easy to dry T-Shirts

GENERAL LIST:

  • 60-80 liters backpack
  • Easy-to-dry pants
  • Long sleeves and easy-to-dry T-Shirts (Cotton should be avoided)
  • Polar Tec
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Gloves
  • Sun cap (for sun protection) and beanie (for cold protection)
  • Buff
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes (to be used when camping)
  • Socks for each day (for trekking)
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Knife*
  • Camera*
  • Personal hygiene kit
  • Sun block (at least 50)
  • Water bottles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Personal medical supplies
  • Trekking Poles *

*Optional