Introducing Central Highlands
As poetic monikers go, few can top the sound of ‘The Avenue of the Volcanoes, ’ the nickname coined by German explorer (and unwitting wordsmith) Alexander von Humboldt when he traveled through Ecuador’s central Andean valley in 1802. Not surprisingly, the name stuck. South of Quito the Panamericana winds past eight of the country’s 10 highest peaks, including the picture-perfect snowcapped cone of Volcán Cotopaxi (5897m) and the glaciated behemoth, Volcán Chimborazo (6310m).
For trekkers and climbers, the central highlands are a paradise, and even inexperienced (but acclimatized and extremely fit) climbers can have a go at summiting the country’s highest peaks. Those who are happier off the hill will find the region just as thrilling. The central highlands are home to scores of tiny indigenous villages, some of which are so remote you can only get there on foot, and where people lead lives that have changed little over the centuries.
The region is also home to many of the country’s most traditional markets. Wandering through these outdoor markets, where you’ll find the most unimaginable and interesting goods is one of the country’s most memorable experiences.
Central Highlands destination guides
Inland & Amazon
From the heights of the Andes to the heat of the Amazon Rainforest, experience an incredible land of contrasts on this 16-day journey through Ecuador. Explore the jungle by canoe and stay with a local Quichua family for an extraordinary cultural experience you'll never forget. Scour the market at Otavalo for special treasures and cure what ails you in a mountain hot spring.
The Ecuador Experience
If you want to sample the region’s highlights without sacrificing some of its lesser-known gems, there’s no better way to experience Ecuador's dramatic scenery and colourful people. Visit the Amazon and a shaman for an incredible introduction to indigenous culture, and witness lush jungles and exotic wildlife.