Volcano sights in Ecuador
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The twin craters of Los Gemelos, which are actually sink holes, not volcanic craters, are a highlight of the Santa Cruz highlands. Surrounded by Scalesia forest, vermilion flycatchers are often seen here (as well as short-eared owls on occasion). Although the craters lie only 25m (82ft) and 125m (410ft) on either side of the road, they're hidden by vegetation - ask your driver to stop at the short trailhead.
Not only is the extinct Volcán Chimborazo the highest mountain in Ecuador, its towering peak (6310m/20,702ft) is also the furthest point from the center of the earth - due to the earth's equatorial bulge. For insatiable trivia buffs, no mountain north of here (in the Americas) is higher.
The Reserva de Producción Faunística Chimborazo (fauna-production reserve) is so-called because hundreds of vicuñas (a wild relative of the llama) live and breed here. They're easy to spot on the bus ride between Guaranda and Riobamba, and while trekking in the park.
For a while, the attraction of watching the erupting Volcán Tungurahua practically dwarfed the town's baths. Although not as dramatic as it was, the volcano still puffs smoke and ash and seeing it is an unforgettable experience. The crater cannot be seen from the town itself. You have to walk either to Runtún, to the northern edge of town, near the Puente San Francisco, or to other spots outside town.
The tourist office provides free maps that pinpoint the best places. Tour companies offer night tours that are totally worthless unless the volcano is more active than it was in 2005 and 2006. Find out first.