In 1802, the young Alexander von Humboldt led a scientific expedition to the Chimborazo in Ecuador, thought to be the highest mountain in the world and never before climbed. At great risk to his own life, as well as those of his companions – the French doctor and botanist, Aimé Bonpland, and the local créole aristocrat, Carlos Montúfar – Humboldt carefully measures and documents flora, fauna, soil, rocks, water, and the air itself.
The expedition survives snow, cold, and the thin mountain air and explore regions that no European had seen before. But it is von Humboldt's encounters with the indigenous people of Ecuador that deeply fascinate him. He explores their culture and language and comes to see German society in a new light. Partly filmed on location in Ecuador.