Machachi and Aloasí, about 35km south of Quito on opposite sides of the Panamericana, serve as gateways to nearby mountains and wilderness. Aloasí is the more attractive of the two pueblos, and serves as a stop on train tours from Quito to El Boliche in Parque Nacional Cotopaxi. Both places are alternate staging points for excursions to Parque Nacional Cotopaxi and the Ilinizas reserve.
The quiet hamlet of Aloasí, on the west side of the highway, sits at the base of the long-extinct volcano El Corazón (4788m), or ‘The Heart,’ whose name comes from the shape formed by two canyons on its west side.
The busy town of Machachi is on the east side of the highway. The pretty main square has piped-in organ music, and an important Sunday market spills all over the town. A boisterous festival celebrating chagras (Andean cowboys) rides into town every July 23.