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Cumbal - Other Activity Ipiales - Colombia

In this small indigenous village on the altiplano, the Sunday market trading is still going strong. Stalls display fruits from highlands and low, or ponchos from local workshops. Doña Yolanda stops stirring the helado de paila for a moment to serve clients a portion. The copper bowl bedded in ice from Volcán Cumbal appears dull beneath today’s clouded sun. On one corner of the Plaza del Mercado, some folks are already loading up on a chiva to return to their pueblos.

Cumbal is the place to be on a Sunday. Other days it’s just a quiet village. But it’s worth a stay in one of the basic hotels, to set your plans for visiting those two snow-capped volcanoes that you see towering over the hamlet early most mornings. To climb Volcán Cumbal (4,780 m/15,863 ft), ask the locals to accompany them on their daily harvests of ice and sulfur. From the top you’ll see the snowy peaks of Ecuador to the south, and to the west, a vast emerald jungle expanse to the Pacific Ocean glittering on that distant horizon.

To summit Volcán Chiles (4,600 m/15, 092 ft), go to the village of the same name on the volcano’s slopes. There you may be able to find someone to guide you. It should take about six hours to reach the apex, which lies on the Colombia-Ecuador border. Inquire, also, about the nearby hot springs. Aguas Hediondas, on the southern slopes within Ecuador, are literally boiling sulfurous waters set on a barren páramo plain where condors soar.


59 kilometers (39 mi) southwest of Ipiales.

Near Ipiales, Ipiales, Colombia

Other Activity Types:

Getting There
Collective taxis leave daily for Cumbal, when full, from the Ipiales bus terminal, 5 a.m.-5 p.m. The last vehicle leaves for Ipiales at 4:30 p.m. from the mercado plaza. (1 hr, $2.70 one way). Transport to Chiles leaves from Cumbal.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

Currencies accepted
Colombian Peso

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

26 Sep 2011

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