Andean Highlands (Ecuador)
Andean Highlands is a region in Ecuador.
- Quito - Capital of Ecuador, and an international travel hub
- Alausi - Start of the famous Devil's nose train ride.
- Ambato - Transport hub in the center of Ecuador
- Baños - Adventure capital of Ecuador, popular with tourists but far from overrun with them. Here you can go biking, rafting, hiking and a lot more.
- Cuenca - The third largest city in the country, a modern place with lot of attractions and beautiful colonial architecture.
- Ibarra - Capital of Imbabura province, close to Colombia
- Loja - Larger city along south, close to Vilcabamba
- Mindo - Small town in a beautiful cloud forest
- Otavalo - World famous for its handicrafts market.
- Piedra Blanca - Off the beaten track rainforest tours.
- Riobamba - Nice city in Central Ecuador. Starting point for tours of the 6,268m (20,500ft) Chimborazo volcano, which can also be seen from the city
- Laguna Cuicocha
- Laguna Quilotoa
- Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve
- Sangay National Park
- Vilcabamba - Very scenic valley south of Loja with good hiking opportunities.
At an elevation of over 2,200m (and often a lot more!), the Andean highlands are very scenic, and can offer breathtaking natural experience This part of Ecuador also preserves much of its original pre-Columbian heritage, which is notable in the food language, clothes and costumes of many people.
Almost everyone speaks Spanish. However for many people, especially in the countryside and Chimborazo/Tungurahua provinces, Quichua is the first language, and any attempt to speak some will very well received. English is not commonly spoken, at least at a more advanced level.
Due to the very uneven terrain, even short distance can take some time to cover. Buses run almost everywhere, and is the manin mode of transportation. For longer distances (e.g. Quito-Cuenca/Loja) you could consider flying.
There are beautiful colonial towns which you should see and spend time in. However, the natural scenery is even more breathtaking.
The Andean Highlands offers many opportunities for world-class hiking, biking, rafting, mountain climbing, birdwatching, horse-back riding and much more.
Look at individual city guides for more information. The coast and Ecuador in general are quite safe, but take normal precautions and use common sense. Don't wander around at dark in places you don't know are safe. If going off the path, do some extra research.
Due to the elevation, altitude sickness is a risk. Take it easy the first day(s).