Trekking through the Andes – Fuya Fuya

It’s been quite some time since my last blog post and the reasons are multiple. Yes, I’ve been busy. But that last post also took quite a lot out of me. And I wasn’t ready to return to blogging as though all was right in my world. Turns out that much is also wrong in the world at large these days and it can be tough to mentally push through my own loss and the realization of just how awful humanity can be.

BUT…there is still much good in the world and I see it every day. That good that still exists is what I prefer this blog to focus on and so I write on.

One huge positive in my life this past year has been hiking. For me it’s a great form of exercise, a chance to see even more of Ecuador’s beauty, and it’s refreshingly cathartic. I have a small group of friends here that I often hike with and we’ve explored some amazing spots.

I’ll be highlighting some of the best hikes along with providing information of how you can do it yourself. First up is Fuya Fuya.

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We often used those tufts of paramo grass to pull ourselves up the hillside.

Fuya in the Kichwa language means “cloudy.” I guess since this mountaintop is so often engulfed in clouds the locals decided they’d double the adjective and emphasize just how cloudy it is.

This inactive volcano sports a double peak and is just outside of the town of Otavalo. The trailhead begins at around 12,800 feet and the summit sits at just under 14,000 feet above sea level. It may only be a 1,200-foot gain but the trail doesn’t wind around, it goes pretty much straight up. That, coupled with the high altitude makes for a challenging, yet rewarding hike.

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Lago Mojanda is far below and we’re doing our best to stay upright on the steep trail.

 

I’ve actually done this trek once before, but neither time have I been lucky enough to get a clear view from the top. If you do happen to summit sans clouds, I’m told  the views are phenomenal and that one can see all the way to Quito. I think I’m going to need to attempt this again and again until I can see it for myself.

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My boys at the summit. See how cloudy it is?

 

Hike it Yourself

You can drive or take a taxi to Lago Mojanda just outside of Otavalo. Once you’re at the lake look to your right and you’ll see the slopes of Fuya Fuya. There are multiple trails headed up, but they all lead to the same place. However, there is one more clearly defined trail that is slightly gentler than the others and that is the one I would recommend.

It’s cold and windy from start to finish so bring warm layers and plenty of water and snacks. The entire hike averages around 1.5 to 2 hours up and 1 hour back down so you have time to slow down and take things easy if needed.

You’ll need to be in moderate to good physical condition to complete this, but you don’t need a guide as it’s not technical. There is a small bit of scrambling up rock just before the summit so be very careful there. Also, it can be slippery if the ground is wet so boots with good traction are a must.

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We did it, so can you!
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