Ecuador is a country filled with natural beauty, and it is no surprise that it has one of the highest levels of biological diversity in the world. Many tourists who visit Ecuador often stick to the popular Galápagos Islands and the capital city, Quito, without realizing the hidden gems that the country has to offer. One such hidden gem is La Sierra, the Andean region of Ecuador, which offers incredible landscapes along the avenue of the volcanoes. In this article, we introduce you to the best things to do in Ecuador along this avenue from north to south.
The Otavalo valley
The Otavalo market in Otavalo, Ecuador, is one of the largest indigenous markets for clothes in South America, and it’s a must-visit for anyone interested in traditional textiles and handicrafts. The market takes place every Saturday, and you can find everything from colourful woven blankets and ponchos to intricate embroidered shirts and dresses. Don’t forget to bargain, as haggling is an important part of the shopping experience. While you’re there, make sure to also try some of the local street food, such as the delicious empanadas and corn on the cob. The Otavalo Valley itself is also worth exploring, as it is surrounded by three volcanoes and offers breathtaking views of the Andean landscape.
The Lake of the Guinea Pig
The Lake of the Guinea Pig is another must-see destination in Ecuador. It is located in a former volcano crater, also known as a caldera, at the foot of the Cotacachi volcano. The view from the edge of the crater is breathtaking, and visitors can also take a boat tour on the lake. For the more adventurous, there is the option to hike the whole crater loop, which is approximately 20 kilometres long.
No visit to Ecuador would be complete without a trip to the equator, which is responsible for the name of the country. The Quitsato monument, located near Cayambe, is a huge sundial deriving from the Inca culture and is located exactly on the equator. From the monument, visitors can spot the Cayambe volcano and enjoy the breathtaking view.
The capital of Ecuador, Quito, is also a must-see destination. The old town is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage, and visitors should plan to spend at least a few days exploring the city and its surroundings. The city is also home to the highest official capital city in the world.
Papallacta Hot Springs
For those seeking relaxation, a visit to the hot springs of Papallacta is a must. The village is located approximately 60 kilometres east of Quito, and the pools are filled with thermal water from the surrounding hot springs.
Parque Nacional Cayambe-Coca
The De Reserva Ecologica Cayambe Coca is one of the most beautiful national parks in the north of the region and is perfect for hiking trips. Visitors can easily add a stay at the hot springs as they drive past them on the way to the hike.
Quilotoa is another favourite destination in Ecuador. Similar to Cuicocha, it is a huge crater filled with water, and visitors can enjoy an extraordinary panorama on clear days. Besides the popular viewpoint at the village named Quilotoa, we recommend checking out the lesser-known access viewpoint, Shalala.
Inka ruins in Ingapirca
Inka ruins in Ingapirca are one of the most important Inca sites in Ecuador and a fascinating place to visit. Located close to the city of Cuenca, the site features impressive architectural structures that showcase the advanced building techniques of the Inca civilization. One of the most striking features of the ruins is the Temple of the Sun, which is built on a hill overlooking the site and offers incredible views of the surrounding landscape. The complex is also home to the largest known Inca construction in Ecuador, known as the Castle, which served as a fortress and administrative centre. Visitors can take a guided tour of the ruins to learn more about the history of the site and the culture of the Inca people. With its stunning setting and rich history, Inka ruins in Ingapirca are a must-see for anyone interested in ancient civilizations and the cultural heritage of Ecuador.
Cuenca is a charming city located in southern Ecuador and known for its beautiful old town. The historic centre of Cuenca has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. The area is filled with colourful colonial buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and picturesque plazas. One of the most iconic landmarks of Cuenca is its stunning cathedral, located in the main square of the old town. The cathedral is an impressive example of colonial architecture, with ornate details and towering domes. Visitors can also explore the many museums, galleries, and artisan workshops in the area, where they can learn more about the rich cultural heritage of Cuenca and its people.
Tren Crucero Ride
Finally, a trip with the Tren Crucero is considered one of the most picturesque train rides in the world. The train runs from Quito down to Guayaquil in three days, passing through all possible climate zones and landscapes. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views on the way down and stop at various destinations along the route, including Riobamba, Alausi, and the Devil’s Nose to Bucay.
In conclusion, Ecuador is a country filled with natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage that is waiting to be explored. The avenue of the volcanoes is just one of many destinations that should be on any traveller’s itinerary. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and explore all that Ecuador has to offer by booking a holiday online right now.