In a mountainous country like Ecuador, the length of a hike in miles or kilometers does not say a lot about its difficulty level. The distance you can cover in a day depends on the elevation gain and the type of terrain. This is why we consider the average hiking times and the trail conditions more important than the actual distance.
Please note that the rating below is based on average hiking times and average hiking conditions. Hiking pace is something very personal and you may walk slower or faster than indicated. Just stick to your own pace and remember: it is not the destination that counts, but the path to get there!
Hiking programs rated 1 – 2 are suitable for anyone who enjoys a good day hike of 4 – 6 hours. All you need are a good physical fitness and a positive mindset.
Level 1 – 2 hikes follow mainly well-defined trails with small elevation gain and gradual slopes. The hikes may include some easy cross country hiking and river crossings apt for beginners.
The terrain varies from rocky and sandy to more humid. Depending on the season and weather conditions, some of the trails (especially those in the Amazon rainforest and cloud forest) may be muddy, which is why rubber boots are part of our standard equipment.
Trekking and climbing programs rated 3 – 4 are designed for advanced hikers with a high level of fitness and endurance.
The treks in this category have an average hiking time of 5 – 7 hours per day. They combine trails with cross country hiking on all types of terrain. You should be prepared for a larger elevation gain, steeper slopes and some exposed areas.
Summit climbs rated 3 – 4 take average 7 – 9 hours (up and down). The ascents on snow covered glaciers include the use of mountaineering equipment. Previous climbing experience is a plus, but not mandatory. Our mountain guide will give you the technical support for a safe ascent.
Programs rated 5 – 6 are climbing tours for experienced mountaineers who like to challenge themselves.
These summit ascents include technical rock and ice climbing. You should be prepared for crevassed routes, ice walls up to 70 degrees and exposed slopes. Be aware that the combination with the high altitude makes these programs very demanding.
The average duration of these ascents is 9 – 11 hours (up and down). Besides an excellent physical condition and mental strength, it is a must to have alpine glacier skills, including front pointing and the proper use of ice axe.