Avenue of Volcanoes
Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes
The Andes Mountains stretch north to south across Ecuador, dividing its coastal lowlands from the Amazon Basin.
A 200-mile section of this continental spine known as the Avenue of Volcanoes is famous for its unmatched concentration of high volcanic summits.
Visitors to the Avenue of Volcanoes in Ecuador can explore nearly 40 mountains, most exceeding 15,000 feet above sea level.
Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, is located 50 miles south of Quito.
Cotopaxi’s icy summit rises a staggering 19,347 feet, dominating the treeless paramo at its base. The surrounding national park is home to Andean Condors, guanacos, and wild horses.
Day Trips From Quito
Multi-day climbs can be arranged, in addition to day trips from Quito.
One of the best ways to experience this region is on horseback, preferably combined with lodging at one of the area’s comfortable haciendas.
Time permitting, you can visit the traditional market towns near Latacunga, 20 miles to the southwest.
The villages of Saquisilí, Pujilí, Tigua, and Zumbahua each hold lovely weekly markets, offering textiles, ceramics, glass, and leather goods.
Another 50 miles to the south sits the peaceful town of Riobamba, a perfect base for exploration of Volcan Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain.
The Chimborazo Volcano is 20,703 feet tall, looming seven miles to the northwest. Four other snow-capped peaks also surround the town.
Nariz del Diablo
Riobamba is also the northern departure point for the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train journey.
The Devil’s Nose is known for its harrowing switchback descent and audacious engineering.
The train usually departs Riobamba on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings, returning from Alausi and Sibambe by early evening.
The riverside town of Baños, 34 miles to the northeast of Riobamba, lies near the base of the active Tungurahua Volcano.
The town is famous for its hot springs, waterfalls, and temperate climate.
Nearby, the Sangay National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) protects ecosystems ranging from glaciers to tropical rainforest.
Mountain Biking, Whitewater Rafting, and Horseback Riding
Visitors to the area can enjoy mountain biking, river rafting, horseback riding, and rappelling.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”