Dream Trips: Scale a Volcano in Ecuador

By , Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

Source Article: Dream Trips: Scale a Volcano in Ecuador

Close to the crater, a valley dotted with ponds offers a glimpse of one of El Altar's snowy peaks. (Ryan Heffernan)

Many farmers hike for hours each day to tend to their crops. This man, who lives outside Candelaria at the base of the volcano, wisely wears rubber boots. (Ryan Heffernan)

Making the final ascent to the crater lake on a ridge near El Refugio. (Ryan Heffernan)

A resident of the town of Candelaria. (Ryan Heffernan)

Horses roam wild in the feathery pastures on the mountainside. (Ryan Heffernan)

The top of El Altar collapsed after an eruption long ago, and the crater become a surreal lake. (Ryan Heffernan)

For much of the hike, the trail cleaves to a hillside overlooking spectacular valleys. Even in the dry season, clouds often hang low over the volcano. (Ryan Heffernan)

Hacienda Releche, a working ranch that also hosts travelers. (Ryan Heffernan)

A sign points the way to the top. (Ryan Heffernan)

One of the cabins at El Refugio with views of the summit. (Ryan Heffernan)