Parque Nacional Cotopaxi

Central Highlands

The centerpiece of Ecuador's most popular national park is the snowcapped and downright picture-perfect Volcán Cotopaxi. At 5897m, it's Ecuador's second-highest peak. Around the volcano you'll find outstanding hiking opportunities and wildlife such as the Andean condor, white-tailed deer, little red brocket deer and wily colpeo (Andean fox).

Within the 33,393 hectares of national park, there are a handful of fabulous old haciendas offering everything from horseback riding to guided climbs of Cotopaxi itself. The park also offers a good look at the páramo (Andean grassland) and the views everywhere are sublime.

Keep an eye out for the rare Andean spectacled bear which lives on the remote and infrequently visited eastern slopes of the park.