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.

Riobamba and Baños are two of the best towns in the country for adventure sports. There’s ample opportunity for climbing, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, canyoning and more.