THE HIGHLANDS

Majestic, colorful and culturally rich

THE HIGHLANDS

Majestic, colorful and culturally rich

The Ecuadorian Andes also called the Highlands, is a vast landscape full of colors and sensations that make the scenery a true painting.

As you travel by, contemplate the magnificent mountains, volcanoes, turquoise lagoons and lakes, hundreds of species of orchids and birds, Inca ruins and the natural hot springs that adorn the Andean landscape.

Stop at colorful villages along the way, check their unique crafts or pick through a variety of hand-woven sweaters. Try the rich gastronomy of the region, ranging from conventional dishes to more exotic delicacies

Visit the most important cities Quito and Cuenca, both of them named Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. Get involved in the cultural splendor of their historic centers where you can find scenic plazas, 17th century churches, monasteries, museums, theatres, cafés and more.

There is a universe of things to explore. Don’t wait for someone else to tell how, come and live it!

General Information

Weather

50 °F (10 °C) – 66 °F (19 °C)

Anual Average
64°F (17.8°C)

Cuisine

Locro de papa
Fanesca
Fritada
Colada Morada
Helados de Paila

Airports

Quito: Mariscal Sucre International Airport
Latacunga National Airport

Traditions

Inti Raymi
La Mama Negra
Fiesta de Flores y Frutas
Diablada de Pillaro

Destinations

Quito
Cuenca
The Avenue of Volcanoes
Baños
Otavalo

Main activities

Adventure activities
Cultural festivities
Archeological sites
Natural sightseeing
Museums

Places not to miss

Quito

Awarded for four consecutive years (2013-2016) as the leading destination in Latin America, Quito is a picturesque city you will fall in love with. A multicultural destination that offers numerous options for discovery and amusement.

Whether you are looking for cultural and historical experiences, ecoadventures, gastronomy or a vibrant nightlife, Quito has it all.

Walk around the Old Town (the largest and best preserved in South America) and its scenic plazas, contemplate its architectural treasures and find the stories kept within their walls.During your visit, don’t forget to visit the Middle of the World, the museums, the Teleférico, La Mariscal and the modern side of the city.

Cuenca

Arguably the most beautiful colonial city in Ecuador, Cuenca is a top destination for travelers and expat. In Cuenca, time seems to have stopped. Nuns walking along cobblestone streets, people riding in carriages, craft traditions offering ceramics, metalwork and the famous panama hats; all of them telling a story of a place that keeps its traditions intact – Lonely Planet.

Take some time to walk around the colonial side and visit the splendid churches and convents like El Carmen, Las Conceptas and the Catedral Nueva, that beautifully decorates the main square with its blue domes and the rose marble façade – Gringosabroad.

Stop at the Flower Market where a festival of colors and fragrances await you

Otavalo

Otavalo is world-famous for its indigenous population called otavaleños, considered to be the economically most successful indigenous community in Latin America.

Visit Plaza de los Ponchos, one of the the most important artisans market in South America. With the wide range of beautiful weavings, ponchos, clothes, jewelry, hats, paintings, souvenirs, stone and wood carvings, and more; there’s no way you will walk out without falling for something. If you are looking for scenic landscapes Otavalo and its surroundings can offer you lakes, waterfalls, the condor park, and much more.

Baños

Considered one of the favorite destinations for travelers in Ecuador, Baños is small town with a privileged location between the highlands and the rainforest that perfectly combines relaxation and adventure.

There is a large variety of outdoor activities to choose from, including cycling, rafting, trekking, canopying, horseback riding, bungee jumping, etc. If you want to relax and get your energies renewed, go to the thermal waters or choose from the many spas available in town.

Enjoy the scene and stop at the different lookouts to appreciate the waterfalls along the way.

The Avenue of Volcanoes

Consisting on more than 70 volcanoes, snowcapped mountains and hills in the center and north of Ecuadorian Andes, the Avenue of Volcanoes beautifully decorates the Ecuadorian landscape and makes it a painting.

Together with the Galápagos Islands, the Cotopaxi is the biggest symbol of the Ecuadorian natural geography..Due to its natural beauty and relatively easiness of ascension is one of the most desired places for visitors. Tungurahua, in kichwua meaning Throat of Fire, is one of the most active volcanoes in the recent years. Watching its luminous red crater in the evening is a complete natural delight. The magnificent Chimborazo (6,310 m), is the closest point on earth to the sun.

Pictured in the country’s flag, this volcano offers one of the best landscapes of the highlands.

Cuisine

There is a whole gastronomic culture in the highlands. Dishes are mainly prepared with beef, chicken, pork or fresh water fish and accompanied with potatoes, corn and vegetables. All of them ready to please even the most demanding palates.

Soups are a specialty of the region so don’t forget to try them. Fresh-made fruit juices are traditionally served accompanying every meal.

Fanesca

Fanesca is perhaps the most elaborated soups you would ever try. It is a potage made out of 12 different grains eaten during Easter week.

Helados de Paila

Helados de Paila are delicious and healthy ice creams made out of natural juice prepared over a bronze pan. With more than 80 flavors to offer you can spend some time trying them.

Recognized as the largest fine cacao producer in the world, Ecuador produces some exquisite chocolates highly appreciated overseas.
Trying them is a true experience.

Colada Morada

On November 2nd during the “day of the dead” people prepare a thick and sweet drink called colada morada, which is made of purple corn flavor, blackberries, strawberries, cloves, verbena, cinnamon and other local ingredients. It is usually accompanied by a doll-shaped bread called guagua de pan.

Culture and Traditions

Ecuadorian popular festivities are full of symbols and representations. Many of them result from the combination of Roman Catholic practices and ancient indigenous traditions. The result is a colorful mix of parades, music, folk dances, customes, superstitions, traditional dishes, fireworks, crafts and more.

Inti Raymi

The festival of the Sun is a religious ceremony dating from the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, the sun, which takes place toward the end of June each year in Andean villages of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.

To celebrate and show gratitude for the harvest of the earth and the renewal of Mother Nature, crowds perform colorful rituals, accompanied by food, drinks, lively music and dancers who are led by the Aya Uma also called Uma devil, the Spirit of the mountain.

La Mama Negra

It’s a wonderful display of Indigenous, Spanish and Afroecuadorian cultures, all together converging and giving rise to syncretic practices.

The Festival includes a parade of characters, dancers, musicians, marching bands that culminate with the arrival on horseback of La Mama Negra, which is the representation of the Virgin Mary combined with African deities.

La Diablada de Pillaro

The legend says that during the colonial period, indigenous communities from the area used to wear devil-faced masks as a sign of rebelliousness against the Spanish. During the festival, people dance local music with the troupes, wear the masks and join the parade.

Flowers & Fruits

Forty days before Easter Week, the streets of Ambato display colorful parade floats that cross the city with its beautiful decorations. The Festival takes its name from the richness of Flores flowers y las Frutas fruits in the region.