The central sierra of Ecuador is a beautifully scenic highland area and it’s here you’ll find the aptly named Avenue of the Volcanoes. This sobriquet, given by the Prussian geographer, naturalist, and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, is well earned, with many snow-capped peaks dotting the landscape. These are all part of a chain of volcanoes that sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and they look as epic as they sound.
The most famous of the peaks here is Cotopaxi, a perfectly conical volcano and Ecuador’s second highest peak. On a clear day it is visible from Quito. Cotopaxi National Park is a hiker’s paradise, while nature lovers will rejoice at the chance to spot majestic condors flying overhead. The stunning scenery as you approach this valley is unparalleled and visitors can stop en route and visit local markets and communities to get a true sense of Ecuadorian life.
Those with a little more time can head out to the Quilotoa crater. The crater was formed when the Quilotoa volcano, the westernmost volcano within the Ecuadorian Andes, last erupted and the lake that has formed within is brilliant green in colour.
Cotopaxi National Park is truly a wonderful place for both relaxing in nature and exploring the exhilarating and awe-inspiring natural wonders of Ecuador.
When to go
Temperatures in Cotopaxi vary little throughout the year, and the average daily temperature is 7ºc (45ºf).
What to do
- Bird watching
- Visiting the turquoise waters of the Quilotoa crater lake