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It is located 12 kilometers west of Quito

The great green mountain that looms over the city of Quito is a unique conglomerate of peaks that offers locals and visitors a deep connection with nature, a great stage for adventure sports and fascinating escape above the clouds.

Created by two volcanoes known as Rucu and Guagua (the “sleeping one” and the “child”, as per their kichwa names), the Pichinchas’ peaks are accessible by cable-car, one of the highest cable-cars in the world, that takes you up to about 13,300 feet above sea level in minutes. On a clear day, a lucky visitor will spot snow-capped Cayambe, Antisana and Cotopaxi at the same time, with a warm cup of chocolate or coffee to fight the cold páramo weather. The more adventurous won’t hesitate to cycle down the rocky mountain, with the magnificent view all around, or actually try and climb up to the Rucu Pichincha summit (a several hour trek)… and one can even try to reach both summits in an 8-hour full-adrenaline adventure!

Guagua Pichincha from Lloa

The small village of Lloa is located at no distance from the smoking crater. And its no wonder that its residents feel compelled to request protection. They arrive in procession to a cave where a new virgin sits, also known as the Virgin of the Volcano (the original Mercedarian was returned to the convent of San Diego in Quito). The faithful pray and pledge their devotion. Despite the spectacular eruption that took place just over fifteen years ago, Lloa was largely unaffected. It remains a quiet village, contained around its main square and church. These are agricultural lands and people tend to their sheep, their cows and cornfields. During the weekend, the town comes to life, and pots of homecooked local food make it to the village square, to be sold to locals and the many visitors that are being lured to the area because of its many nature attractions.

The prime excursion once in Lloa is, of course, the climb up to the volcano. Although one is not allowed, at present, to descend inside the crater itself, you can come to face the magnificence of this giant (a 2 hour walk from the refuge). From this refuge you can also head northeast, along another path for 6 hours, passing by Padre Encantado (a medium-sized peak on the way) up to Cruz Loma, where the Quito’s Cable Car is located. Both experiences are unforgettable.

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