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Central Highlands

The rooftop of Ecuador offers up more adventure per square meter than most places on earth. This vast region cut from fire and ice inspires the imagination and offers a remarkable journey deep into the myth and beauty of the Andes. There are heavenly volcanoes, glacier-capped peaks, high-arching grassy plains, surprisingly quaint colonial cities, bucolic haciendas and precipitous green valleys that take you from highlands down past waterfalls and indigenous villages to the heavy-aired environs of the Amazon Basin.

Most trips to the area will include a couple of days in the region’s exceptional national parks and reserves, including Los Ilinizas, Cotopaxi, Llanganates, Chimborazo and Sangay. The Quilotoa Loop brings hiking travelers through traditional indigenous communities to an impossibly deep crater lake. And there are rail adventures and crafts markets, plus plenty of tropical experiences in the verdant valley leading down to the ever-popular town of Baños.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Central Highlands.