Avenue of the Volcanoes
The Avenue of Volcanoes offers a breath-taking journey along Ecuador’s Andean spine. Filled with snow-capped volcanoes, lush green valleys and turquoise crater lakes, the area is revered for its wild and dramatic scenery- add in its mix of indigenous towns and artisan villages, and you’ve got an area which encompasses the best of Ecuador. It is a highlight of the country and one of our favourite places to explore.
South of Quito looms the perfectly snow-capped cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano , which at nearly 6000m high is the world's second-highest active volcano, surrounded by verdant rolling hills, neighbouring volcanoes and mountain lakes, the area makes up Cotopaxi National Park and offers a plethora of adventure activities to enjoy. Hike to the summit of Cotopaxi Volcano, horseback ride with an Andean cowboy, and discover the flora and fauna of the area. Go mountain-biking or trekking within the clouds and soak up the unsurpassed beauty of the national park, all whilst staying in traditional haciendas that offer a taste of Ecuador’s colonial past.
South of the national park, are the Indian villages of Saquisili, Pujili and Latacunga, famed for their weekly local markets. Artisans and indigenous locals fully adorned in their traditional dress line the streets with vibrantly coloured handicrafts, livestock and produce to sell, and offer a colourful and authentic insight into traditional Ecuadorian life.
The journey continues to the majestic Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador’s highest peak and also the furthest point from the centre of earth. Offering spectacular scenery, large glaciers and fresh snow drape around the top of the volcano and around its base lays an array of colourful patchwork fields, highland grasslands, and indigenous communities. The area is rich in biodiversity, where a large array of flora and fauna can be found, including the great Andean Condor and an abundance of llamas and alpacas.
In the shadows of Chimborazo Volcano is the Andean city of Riobamba, which serves as the starting point for the exhilarating train journey along the Devil’s Nose. Regarded as one of the best train journeys in the world, the train ride offers dramatic and stunning scenery, as well as an impressive feat of engineering as the train descends a near-vertical wall of rock, known as El Nariz del Diablo (The Devils’ nose). The final stop along the Avenue of Volcanoes is the Inca ruins of Ingapirca, the most important and largest in Ecuador.
This breath-taking journey is best explored over a number of days, whilst staying in each area and ending in the majestic city of Cuenca, just south of Ingapirca. Exploring this highland area offers a real insight into Ecuador, including its culture, biodiversity and dramatic scenery. Travelling through the Avenue of Volcanoes is usually experienced by car, but can also be travelled through on the historical and heritage train of Tren Crucero. If time is short, then day trips from Quito or Cuenca can also be arranged. Whatever your schedule or interest, we can tailor an itinerary to suit you and ensure you get the best of this nature rich wonderland found in Ecuador.