From the Galapagos Islands to the immensity of the Amazon, through the shores of the Pacific and the Andes, Ecuador is the only country to offer all the geography of south America in one place. For tourists traveling by air, Quito is the main gateway to the Ecuadorian lands. Located at 2.800 meters on the highlands, the capital city stretches for 20 kilometers north-south at the foot of the magnificent Pichincha volcano, which had its last eruption in October 1999, releasing ash up to 20 kilometers altitude, Pichincha volcano is only one of the colossus that form the Avenue of the Volcanoes, which stretches over 300 kilometers, in the heart of the country.
Ecuador offers a wide range of these volcanoes covered with snow and glaciers, some exceeding 5.000 meters of altitude. The country has 98 active and inactive volcanoes and of these 31 are potentially active and erupting and seven of have experienced one or more eruptions since the sixteenth century. this positions Ecuador among the 15 countries with more volcanoes on the planet.
The Cotopaxi volcano, is probably the best known colossus on the Avenue of the Volcanoes, located just 30 miles outside of Quito, with almost 6000-meter- high visiting Cotopaxi will be a breathtaking experience, the foothills of the volcano are inhabited by Ecuador’s original ethnic groups, which will also make this journey and enriching cultural opportunity.
Along Cotopaxi it is important to also mention other peaks that form the Avenue of the Volcanoes:
Chimborazo: It is Ecuador’s highest volcano; whose summit is at 6,268 m above sea level. Recent scientific measurements have just been made and concluded that the summit of the volcano is 6,384,415.98 meters from the center of the Earth. This new calculation confirms that the Chimborazo is the most distant point from the center of the Earth.
Tungurahua: (5,016 meters above sea level), which in Kichwa means “throat of fire”, is located inside the Sangay National Park. The Volcano has been in contact activity on the last 20 years.
Carihuairazo: (5,020 meters above sea level), is located within the Forest Reserve of Chimborazo. Its name comes from three words in Kichwa which mean: man, wind and snow; Is also a character within the Andean myth.
Sangay: (5,230 meters above sea level), belonging to the National Park that bears the same name. His name in Kichwa means terrifying, probably due to the constant and explosive activity he has had. It is solitary already in the dawns of the Amazon and almost there are no towns around it.
Iliniza Sur: (5,263 meters above sea level) and Iliniza Norte (5,126 meters above sea level), two peaks that together form the Ilinizas, also called as one: Iliniza (or Illiniza). This elevation is also protagonist in Andean myths, the south peak has snow while the north does not. They belong to Ilinizas National Park.
Altar: (5,320 meters above sea level), located inside the Sangay National Park. Its current name was put by the Spanish conquerors because of the appearance of their peaks. However, the natives called it the Capac Urcu which means Mighty Lord. Its boiler has numerous caves which form small lakes within it.
Antisana: (5,704 meters above sea level), belonging to the Ecological Reserve of the same name. Its name has two conceptions: dark, or mountain lamb. It has some lakes around it and it shows unforgettable landscape.
Cayambe: (5,790 meters above sea level), belonging to the Ecological Reserve Cayambe-Coca, is known for its reputation as dangerous for the ascent. Although its climb is not very steep, the greater risk that this volcano shows are its cracks and its very variable climate, factors by which several mountaineers have disappeared and died. It is the only snowy volcano in the world that is crossed by the equator.
The area surrounding the Avenue of the Volcanoes is home to many Andean plants, mainly Astern- and Gentian family. The wildlife consists among others of the Andean fox, puma, white-tailed deer, llamas, wild horses and over 90 species of birds.
The Avenue of the Volcanoes is also the seat of the old haciendas that still go back to the Spanish colonial era wick will complement your trip with activities such as hiking, trekking, nature watching, mountain climbing, horse riding and cycling. Also especially popular are the downhill mountain biking. In the deeper layers towards the jungle rafting and kayaking can also be practiced.
The Avenue of the Volcanoes, one more reason to know that all you need is Ecuador.