National Parks & Reserves
For such a small region, the central highlands has quite a collection of protected areas. All but Parque Nacional Llanganates, which is truly a tough wilderness to crack open, have activities for everyone, from leisurely day-trippers to hardcore hikers and climbers. Parque Nacional Cotopaxi is one of the country’s most visited national parks, and is a quick trip from Quito or Latacunga. The Reserva Ecológica Los Ilinizas encompasses the two Ilinizas peaks, and stretches all the way to Laguna Quilotoa. Volcán Chimborazo is the centerpiece of the Reserva de Producción de Fauna Chimborazo, where roving harems of vicuña (a relative of the llama) scamper across the páramo (Andean grasslands). Parque Nacional Sangay is the region’s largest park, with terrain as varied as jungle and glaciated peaks.