To get to the trailhead, start at Popayan. Take a bus to Cruz Mina (on the road to La Plata). Walk 2.5 kms (1.6 miles) south along the road to Pilimbala. There are a few nice home stays here where you can get a room and good hot meals.
From Pilimbala, you have two choices to begin the hike. One is a more scenic trail, and the other one is a steep road that goes past the hot springs. I recommend going up the trail, and down the road with a soak in the hot springs at the end of the hike.
Follow the well-marked trail south and up the mountain's slopes. the trail joins up with the road 1/3 the way up the mountain. There are several telecommunication towers at 4060 meters (13,320 feet). This is where the road ends, and there is a trail only for the remainder of the climb. Follow the steep trail to the crater rim and enjoy the views if the weather is clear! There isn't any permanent snow, but the peak is snow capped for part of the year.
To reach the summit of Pan de Azúcar, continue along the chain of volcanoes south and eventually reach Pan de Azucar. There are several volcanoes along this spectacular ridge. Plan on a round trip hike of 2-3 days if you're going all the way to Pan de Azucar. Pan de Azucar has a permanent snowcap even though it is slightly lower than Purace.
Technical gear is not needed for the climb. Expect cold, wet, and maybe snowy conditions at any time. Full camping gear is needed to reach the summit of Pan de Azúcar.
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