So you have decided to hike in the Ecuadorian Andes. Now you must be wondering “how do I prepare for a hike?” As a true adventurer you must be aware of the unpredictable variables hiking can sometimes bring, especially at high altitudes and at unknown places. If you want to be at 2000 meters above sea level and immerse yourself and explore the most wonderful hikes in Ecuador.
Here is a short list on some tips and recommendations you may find useful for an unforgettable experience.
1. Ecuador Hikes: Choose the right trail for you.
Select a hike with a distance you feel you can complete without agony. Make sure you preview the elevation changes, altitude, and distance to estimate the time required to hike the trail. The most common mistake among hikers is diving into an adventure for which they are not well prepared and think they can accomplish. Don’t get us wrong, we trust you can achieve everything you set your mind to, but we want you to enjoy every minute of the experience instead of walking in distress.
Once you have selected the trail, familiarize yourself with it. Find out if the trail is a loop, or if you will have to go from point A to point B. For instance in the Cotopaxi Hike you have to go from the refuge to the glaciers, make sure you don’t take a wrong trail or you will find yourself lost in the middle of the mountain. Take note of any intersection where you might potentially take the wrong turn and deviate yourself. Also, look for a good stop to take a break with a great view and enjoy the moment.
2. Don’t let the weather surprise you.
The weather in Ecuador’s highlands can be a real surprise. In one day you can experience all the four seasons and might as well be prepared for it. A warm and sunny day can turn into a rainy afternoon, and later into a chilly evening. Leading up to your hike, and again a few hours before departure, check the weather. Online resources are not as accurate as other countries but they can give you a sense of how the day is going to be so you can pack and dress for the occasion.
3. How do I prepare for a hike: clothing musts
Hiking in the Ecuadorian Andes will always require you to dress in layers. Throughout the hike you need to gradually adjust to the temperature as the weather changes. Skip cotton and go for synthetic. As a first layer you need a breathable polyester shirt to keep you comfortable. Second, a warm snug jacket or soft shell, and finally make sure you always bring your waterproof jacket. In case you are missing the waterproof jacket a “poncho” could do the trick to avoid getting wet.
Wear the right socks, avoid cotton composition, and choose those high enough to cover your ankles to avoid blisters. Shoes need to be as comfortable as possible to avoid painful feet and a painful hike. Pants need to be light and comfortable for you to move smoothly throughout the hike. Take into consideration that jeans or joggers can be a little hotter than a pair of hiking pants, and if they get wet they can turn very heavy hindering mobility. Finally, always make sure you bring a pair of gloves with you. Cold hands and fingers could turn into a distressful experience, and getting them warmed up again can be a more painful experience.
4. Sun protection
Be aware that you are 2000 meter above sea level, therefore you are closer to the sun. UV light exposure in Ecuador’s highlands is a real hazard and sun burns can be more dangerous than in other countries. Sun protection has to be your number one priority when embracing Ecuador hikes.
Make sure to pack a good sunscreen and apply it to your face, neck and arms once every hour.
Don’t leave your place without a hat or visor to cover you from the sun. We know hats don’t collaborate with how you wanna look in your picture, but hey! it’s better to have messy hair than a red face. Finally, let’s not forget about the eyes and double check you bring with you your sunglasses to avert any eye complications.
5. Hydration and nutrition
Always make sure you are drinking enough water and hydrating yourself. Before, during and after your hike you need to be taking sips of water to have the right hydration your body needs. Don’t go over 40 minutes without taking a mouthful of water if you want to avoid dizziness, dry mouth or heat exhaustion. Remember you are walking at high altitude and your body needs extra help to work at its best. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink liquids, if you feel thirsty that means your body is already dehydrated.
Snacks are as important as water. Give your body enough fuel to keep moving forward. If you forgot your snacks or water at your place don’t panic, most trails have little shops at the beginning of the route where you can get what you need. Make sure you have $5 or $10 dollars bills since change can be hard to get and we don’t want you to start walking without hydration or nutrition.
6. Leave No Trace
The best Ecuador hikes are waiting for you. These hikes are beautiful, memorable, and mesmerizing, but they will only remain this way if we care for them. The principle of Leave No Trace provides a framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. They preach on a basic respect for the place we visit, other visitors, and the wildlife. Make sure you take with you all your disposable waste, do not leave any trash behind. All the plants, rocks, animals and natural settings belong where you find them and it’s not ok to take them as a souvenir. It is up to every outdoor enthusiast to take care of our natural spaces and preserve them for a long period of time.
We hope these tips help you get the most out of your hiking experience in Ecuador. Whether you are hiking a volcano, or a multiday hiking trail make sure you read carefully all the advice we provide you. Remember, the altitude has a greater sun exposure, so make sure you always have the right protection. Due to the altitude your body demands the constant ingest of liquids and foods. Don’t wait until you are hungry or thirsty, that means your body is starving or dehydrating. We don’t want to sound dramatic, we just want to keep you healthy in order for you to have a safe trip and enjoy each adventure to the fullest.