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Reaching skywards in the Cordillera Occidental of Ecuador, the gigantic cone of Chimborazo clocks up a whopping 6,263 meters in height. That makes it the tallest of all peaks in this section of the Andes. And there are more superlatives, because scientists claim the summit represents the farthest point from the geological center of the Earth (move over, Everest).
However, those mind-boggling facts are never enough to prepare travelers for their first glimpse of the great mountain. Heavily glaciated and topped with cracked wedges of rock, it hulks over the nearby highland towns of Riobamba and San Andres. They are both popular bases for the crowds of mountaineers that flock to conquer the summit each year. It’s a challenging undertaking, but plenty of Chimborazo tour guides provide multi-day itineraries up the El Castillo route, which includes ice walks, crevasses, and open rock faces.
Of course, you don’t have to don the crampons to enjoy this wonder of Ecuador. You can also take in the eye-watering view, or delve into the surrounding nature reserve, which is now peppered with once-endangered vicuña.