The Avenue of the Volcanoes

The Avenue of the Volcanoes is a remarkable natural treasure with a length of approximately 350 km situated between the eastern and western ranges of the Ecuadorian Andes.

Along this route, travelers can reach the summit of the most incredible volcanoes of the Andes Mountain Range.

Main routes of the Avenue of the Volcanoes:

    • Cayambe: At an altitude of 5,790 meters above sea level, one can find one of the three summits of Cayambe, Ecuador’s third-highest snow-capped mountain and one of the few volcanoes crossed by the equator line.

    • Antisana: The Ecuador’s largest glacier standing at 5,704 meters above sea level. Its peaks are usually covered in snow due to the precipitation from the Amazon basin. The volcano with its dual summits can be admired from the Papallacta area or the Mica lagoon, where activities such as hiking, cycling, camping, and mountain exploration allow visitors to immerse themselves in the Andean landscapes.

    • The Illinizas: The Illinizas are twin peaks divided by the same volcano. These twin mountains provide an ideal setting for those seeking to prepare for higher snow-capped mountain climbs. The northern summit, located at 5,126 meters above sea level, has an irregular slope, and the southern summit, reaching 5,248 meters above sea level within the Illinizas Ecological Reserve, visitors can engage in recreational and tourist activities.

    • Cotopaxi: Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and the second-highest in Ecuador, standing at 5,897 meters above sea level. Its perfectly symmetrical cone makes it one of the most beautiful volcanoes.

    • Tungurahua: Known as the “Throat of Fire,” Tungurahua is another active volcano in Ecuador. It has been erupting for years, causing concern for the communities in the surrounding areas. Standing at 5,023 meters above sea level, Tungurahua offers a colorful spectacle when, at night, incandescent rocks descend amidst explosions, visible from the cities of Ambato or Baños. The volcano is part of the Sangay National Park, which covers approximately 500,000 hectares and is home to around 3,000 plant species and 580 animal species.

    • Chimborazo: Chimborazo is Ecuador’s highest mountain and the farthest point from the center of the Earth. Its summit reaches 6,268 meters above sea level, and its slopes lie at 4,800 meters above sea level, making it a spectacular natural viewpoint.

    • Altar: Although now an inactive volcano, Altar was once considered a super volcano. It is believed that its peaks were the highest in Ecuador until a massive landslide affected its shape, leaving them at 5,319 meters above sea level.

    • Sangay: Known for its constant eruptions, Sangay is the southernmost volcano in Ecuador, located between the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. Legends tell that ancient inhabitants of the region witnessed its violent explosions and thus named it Samkay, meaning “to scare.” Usually covered in thick ash clouds, Sangay can still be admired from various points in the Sangay National Park.

    • Quilotoa: This volcano is renowned for the turquoise-blue waters that fill its crater, giving life to the famous Quilotoa Lagoon. The lagoon is the result of a volcanic eruption that occurred hundreds of years ago. With a diameter of approximately three kilometers and a depth of 250 meters, the lagoon is located within the Illinizas Ecological Reserve, providing an ideal place for walking along trails that lead to the habitats of diverse Ecuadorian flora and fauna.

Getting ready for the Avenue of the Volcanoes

    • Physical Fitness: The high-altitude and challenging hiking trails of the Avenue require good physical condition. Incorporate cardio exercises, such as jogging or cycling, along with strength training exercises to prepare your muscles for the demanding hikes.

    • Altitude Acclimatization: The Avenue of the Volcanoes reaches impressive altitudes, so it’s essential to acclimatize properly to avoid altitude sickness. Arrive in Ecuador a few days before starting your journey to give your body time to adjust.

    • Gear and Equipment: Invest in suitable hiking gear and equipment to ensure your safety and comfort. This includes sturdy hiking boots, moisture-wicking clothing, a waterproof jacket, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

    • Weather Awareness: The weather in the Andean region can be unpredictable, so be prepared for various conditions. Dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures and carry a waterproof layer in case of rain.

    • Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour led by experienced local guides who are knowledgeable about the area. They can provide valuable insights, ensure your safety, and enhance your overall experience by sharing their expertise on the volcanoes, flora, fauna, and local culture.

    • Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated throughout your journey by drinking plenty of water. Carry a water bottle and refill it whenever possible. Pack nutritious snacks like energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits to maintain your energy levels during hikes. Also, sample the local cuisine to savor traditional flavors along the way.

    • Travel Insurance: Prioritize travel insurance that covers outdoor activities and potential emergencies. Confirm that it includes medical coverage, trip cancellation, and evacuation services in case of accidents or unforeseen circumstances.

    • Respect Nature and Local Communities: Practice responsible tourism by respecting the environment and local communities. Follow designated trails, avoid littering, and minimize your impact on fragile ecosystems. Engage respectfully with local people, learn about their traditions, and support local businesses and artisans.


Written by Elisa Castillo.

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