The Avenue of the Volcanoes is one of Ecuador’s most famous regions, stretching some 325 kilometres south of Quito towards Riobamba and the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca – the origin of the Panama hat.
This long and picturesque valley is the heartland of Ecuador’s indigenous people and is home to many small villages, where you’ll find a different – and very colourful – market for each day of the week.
At 5,875 metres, Cotopaxi is the most imposing volcano, its perfect conical shape towers over the surrounding countryside and its eponymous national park. Here you can spend a night in one of the local haciendas, where you can relax and enjoy the mountain scenery. Activities to try include cycling, fishing, visiting a rose plantation, horse riding through the mountains or hiking among the foothills.
Said to be Ecuador’s most beautiful colonial city, Cuenca dates back to the 16th century. UNESCO listed, it’s a place where time keeps forgetting and has long been known for its intellectual, artistic and philosophical traditions. Cobble-stoned streets, soaring steeples, ornate churches and colonial plazas make it a welcoming sight for sore eyes. Just outside Cuenca and on the way to Guayaquil is the Cajas National Park, offering spectacular hiking opportunities, biking trails and beautiful landscapes to discover. The Inca ruins of Ingapirca, one of Ecuador’s most significant ancient sites are also a day trip away.
Discover the country’s most iconic journey aboard the Tren Crucero as you travel leisurely between Quito and the coast (or vice versa – this journey can be done in reverse order). Starting in the capital, high up in an Andean valley, the adventure by rail takes passengers down the spine of the Andes and ends in the cosmopolitan port city of Guayaquil. In four days, travel across a full spectrum of landscapes with plenty of off-train excursions. Day one is spent travelling by road north to Otavalo. The small town, is nestled amongst hills and mountains, has a strong indigenous population and is famous for its vibrant handicraft market dating back to pre-Incan times. From day two, the rail adventure starts; crossing the incredible Avenue of the Volcanoes and the Chimborazo Moorlands, travelling down the Devil’s Nose Pass, through fertile plains and along tropical plantations to the coast.
Tren Crucero holidays include overnight stays in some of Ecuador’s most charming and historic hotels and haciendas, with the locomotive itself a comfortable and elegant way to make the journey, harking back to the golden age of travel – albeit with added air-conditioning. Sink into comfortable sofas and watch the views unfold from the large picture windows, or settle down at a table with a drink from the onboard bar. On longer holidays to Ecuador, incorporating a trip on the Tren Crucero is the perfect holiday within a holiday, while the Avenue of the Volcanoes is just a few hours from Quito.
Call our Destination Experts for Latin America for inspiration and travel advice on Tren Crucero and Avenue of the Volcanoes holidays.