Ilaló is a long extinct eroded volcano located 8 kilometers east of Quito on a fertile green valley blessed with a mild climate and temperatures. Ilaló splits this valley in two: Valle de Los Chillos to the south and Valle de Tumbaco to the north.
Valle de Los Chillos as seen from Ilaló. Illinizas and Corazón in the background.
This volcano towers up alone in the middle of the valley right across Quito. It has a small caldera opened to the west which features very old lava remains.
There is a small lava dome to the south called Milivaro
which it is extinct as well. This entire volcanic complex has been covered on its totality by cangahua
which are mainly ashes and debris from other volcanoes’ eruptions carried by the wind.
At the moment Ilaló doesn’t show any volcanic activity, however there are many thermal pools and hot springs in the surroundings.
Ilalo’s last eruption occurred 1.6 million years ago.
Cotopaxi as seen from Ilaló.
Ilaló can be climbed from all four cardinal points, but the most currently used are the north and south trailheads.
The north trailhead also known as Tumbaco
trailhead is less steep but it takes longer. It can be reach from Quito by bus (45 minute-ride). Views of the northern ranges all the way to the Colombian border are stunning.
The south trailhead or El Tingo
trailhead is steeper but way much more scenic. It goes by Andean paramo and nice tunnels through scrub. Views of volcan Cotopaxi as well as other peaks to the south are impressive.
Climbing Volcan Ilaló
The climb starts as soon as you get off of the bus. Just follow the only road up to the church visible on the foothills of Ilaló. Continue on your way up to the south summit cross by a dirt road through a small neighborhood along the way. Dogs hang out along the way, but don’t worry; they are used to see hikers and they approach to you waving their tales wanting to be petted.
Ilaló's main (3,185 m / 10,450 ft) and south summits as seen from the trail from Tumbaco.
The road becomes into a thin trail an hour later but it keeps its direction uphill towards the cross which can be reached two and a half hours later. The true summit can be seen to the north and it can be reach by hiking down to the saddle of both summits and then up through the thick forest. It takes 40 minutes to reach the true summit from the cross.
The descend can be done by the northern foothills towards Tumbaco. The trail and dirt road is clearly visible from the summit or easy to follow even in foggy conditions. It takes one a half hours to reach the bus station located half way between the summit and Tumbaco.
The climb can be done in reverse, starting from Tumbaco but I highly recommend starting in El Tingo in order to have more enjoyable and scenic views.
It takes about 2 hours to reach the summit from either side and 4-5 hours to complete crossing the whole volcano from side to side (Integral del Ilaló).
When to climb
Ilaló can be climbed all year-round, but it can get rainy from March to May.
Due to the proximity to Quito’s outskirts and suburban neighborhoods, camping in Ilaló is not suggested.
-Not parking permits or fees.
-No water available during the climb. Bring water, sunscreen and insect repellent.
“Transportes Termas Turis
” (USD. 0,30 / 45 min-ride) leave every 10 minutes to El Tingo
from La Marin Station in downtown Quito. Green color buses.
” buses leave every 30 minutes from the northern upper neighborhoods of Ilaló to Tumbaco
(USD. 0,20 / 20 min-ride).
There are plenty of buses on Tumbaco’s main highway that go to Quito’s Ecovia station at Rio Coca area (USD. 0,35 / 45 min-ride).
Buses to Tumbaco
can be taken at “Ecovia” northern station (USD. 0,35 / 45 min-ride).
I'd like to thank to my son "Boris
" for being a great adventures partner during this short trip and for helping me with the collection of most of the information posted in this page as well as some of the pictures.
Other helpful informationGuidebooks
-Ecuador, Climbing and Hiking Guide. Rob Rachowiecki and Mark Thurber. (6th Edition). Aug. 2008.
-Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands – Lonely Planet. (8th Edition)
St Louis, Burningham, Dowl, Grosberg. August 2009.
IGM 1:50,000 Sangolqui topographic maps are available at Instituto Geografico Militar (IGM) in Quito, and must be bought personally.
Instituto Geografico Militar (IGM).
Senierges y Gral. Paz y Miño
Sector El Dorado.