Ask anyone the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Ecuador and they’ll most likely call out the world-famous Galapagos Islands. The volcanoes of Ecuador in this archipelago are considered one of the world’s most supreme destinations to encounter a diverse ecosystem of plant species and wildlife. We were lucky enough to set out and hike the Andes Range, the world’s longest continental mountain range, and witness plenty of breathtaking volcanoes in their natural environment.
The San Pablo Lake is at the foot of the Imbabura Volcano. The whole scene has a rural charm to it with cows, sheep and pigs quietly grazing along the banks of the lake.
Cuicocha Lake sits on the crater of an inactive volcano. Its name comes from the indigenous Kichwa language and literally translates to ‘Lake of the Guinea Pig’ as the shape of the largest island in the middle of the laguna resembles one.
There are no words to describe the feeling you get upon the first sight of Quilotoa Lake. This emerald water-filled caldera sits peacefully on the dormant volcano that created it when a catastrophic eruption occurred 800 years ago.
The 10 kilometres winding hike from the rim of Quilotoa Lake to the remote Chugchilan Village was truly breathtaking as we passed through high altitude cloud forests and deep canyons.
The Tungurahua Volcano is one that is constantly erupting every couple of months since 1999 and has become so common that locals no longer fear it.
Overlooking the Tungurahua Volcano is ‘El Columpio En El Fin Del Mundo’ – the swing at the end of the world. With no harness or safety net, just a small wooden swing suspended from one of the tree’s skinniest branches, this ride that will hang you over the edge of the world will definitely get your heart racing.
Chimborazo is an inactive stratovolcano and is the highest mountain when measured from the centre of the Earth. It beats Mt. Everest by a whooping 2 kilometres!
Vicuña, a relative of the llama, are seen in plenty at the foot of Chimborazo. Their extraordinary sense of hearing makes them very sensitive creatures when it comes to visitors passing by but as long as you’re a quiet observer, it’s extremely captivating to watch them from afar.
Whilst reaching alpine heights was top on the list, being able to explore the volcanoes of Ecuador and to discover another side to this country, affirmed the allure and diversity of Ecuador’s rich landscape. It has its fair share of explosive dramas, but that’s what makes for a dramatic, adrenaline-filled adventure.
Writer: Arranged Travelers
Photographer: Arranged Travelers