Some provinces in Ecuador’s highlands such as Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, and Chimborazo, are named after the most important volcano in its territory. Discover the Andes mountain chain on your next trip to Ecuador!
An Introduction to the Andes
The Ecuadorian Andes are the only site on the planet where the Equatorial Line crosses over highlands; in the rest of the world, the Equator crosses through dense tropical forests or the ocean. The pre-Incan cultures that inhabited Quito and its surroundings developed their astronomical knowledge with the help of the clear landmarks surrounding the city.
Alexander von Humboldt explored the Ecuadorian Andes and their valleys in 1802. He named them “The Avenue of the Volcanoes”. He believed that he had reached the highest point in the world when he attempted to climb the Chimborazo volcano (20,702 ft.), since the Himalayas were still unknown in Europe at the time. Nevertheless, if measured from the center of the Earth, the peak of the Chimborazo is indeed the furthest point on the planet’s surface.
What to Do
Ecuador has twelve peaks over 16,000 ft. The country offers opportunities to hike, trek and mountain climb for all skill levels. The Ecuadorian Andes hold numerous breathtaking view sites: lagoons, extensive paramos (moorlands), and mysterious cloud forest. Moreover, the indigenous communities of the region are known for their colorful folklore and impressive weaving abilities. You can perform different and entertaining activities such as bird watching, biking, water sports on the lakes, interacting with indigenous communities, visiting rose plantations, or savoring delicious traditional dishes. The colonial cities of Quito and Cuenca have both been declared World Cultural Heritage Sites. You can also visit beautiful natural sites that will take up to two hours from each one of these two cities.