The German explorer Alexander von Humboldt – the greatest scientific traveler who ever lived, according to Charles Darwin – is the brains behind the denomination ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’. We can only imagine how his curious mind soaked in the landscapes of two parallel mountain ranges running for over 300 km (200 miles) south of Quito. The cordilleras have an impressive seven peaks of over 5,000 meters (17,000 ft) in altitude.
We designed a three day getaway packed with indispensable volcano experiences and drives that are anything but monotonous (over the Panamerican Highway, secondary routes and windy country roads; observe nature’s color palette changing from the muted greens and yellow of the bucolic patchworks fields to the lush spectrum of greens of the tropical montane cloud forest).
Experience wise, it is, of course, quintessential you hike up to the refuge of the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano, and even to the 5,000 meter/17,000 ft. point if you’re up for it (don’t worry, it’s still a hike and not a climb); and go horseback riding through the unique páramo ecosystem with the native chagras (a local word for cowboys). You’ll most likely see wild horses and lamas grazing these flatlands. Just don’t forget to admire today’s star volcano you hiked up earlier.