The Avenue of the Volcanoes
There are more than 70 volcanoes in around 300 km that make up the Avenue of the Volcanoes of Ecuador. The German geographer, naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt is the one responsible for this name.
The avenue stretches from Tulcán in the north, through Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and further down south to the city of Riobamba.
On this stretch of land, you can find 22 of Ecuador’s more than 70 volcanoes. Among them the highest and most active ones in South America.
If Humboldt did it…
Humboldt himself, while exploring the country in 1802, climbed the two peaks of Pichincha, Quito’s neighbouring volcano. He even tried his luck at Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain with 6263m.
Humboldt didn’t succeed though and had to break off his attempt 400 meters below the summit. Nevertheless, this was a world altitude record at the time.
Little did they know, is that they kept the record for more than 30 years.
When measured from the earth’s centre, Chimborazo is the world’s tallest mountain. Therefore the closest place to the sun.
This remains an extremely popular destination for climbers and nature lovers alike.
The mighty Chimborazo has a few close neighbouring volcanoes, like Carihuairazo, El Altar and Tungurahua. All connected by legends and myths.
Cotopaxi on the other hand, with 5897m, maybe the most beautiful of all volcanoes. It has a perfectly symmetrical shape, snow on top stands majestic and lonely.
Cotopaxi’s national park is one of the must-visits in Ecuador.
But the area is not only popular with hikers and mountaineers. There are also possibilities for horseback riding or to go biking, either downhill from the volcano or on the seemingly endless paths in the reserve.
Sangay at 5300m, smaller, but way more dangerous. It’s said to be South America’s most active volcano, erupting virtually all the time. A successful ascent to the summit depends especially on the current activity of the volcano.
When you plan to summit Cotopaxi or Chimborazo, it is highly recommended to acclimatize properly. Start with easy hikes in Quito or around, then slowly proceeding to climb other, smaller and less difficult volcanoes before attempting to get on the two big ones.
Corazón, the Illinizas or Rucu Pichincha being good examples to experience and get used to altitudes above 4000m.
For any activities around the volcanoes, hiking, biking or horseback riding, it’s pretty easy to do day-trips from Quito, or you can stay in one of the beautiful haciendas
around the country.
When you plan to visit the more southern volcanoes, Riobamba is a perfect starting point.
The avenue of the volcanoes is truly a jewel of the Andes.
This is a supreme hiking country, with turquoise crater lakes, tiny fields plastering impossibly steep slopes, and always a peak in sight.
An absolute bucket list item for adventurous travellers!