The Highlands of Ecuador Ecuador's Avenue of the Volcanoes is the backbone of the Central Highlands, a long and beautiful stretch of eternal mountain views. Snow-capped volcanoes peer through layers of mist and each curve of the highway presents a new vision. The highest peaks, several of which are active volcanoes, lie in this stretch of the Andes. Opportunities for adventure include hiking, trekking, mountaineering and horseback riding. Mountain biking and road touring are coming into their own. Birders and photographers will find this region a pleasure. Wildlife viewing abounds, particularly in the higher-elevation zones. From Quito north to the Colombian border, the Andes provide spectacular views of rolling mountains, sparkling lakes, and tiny villages. Indigenous culture, passed down through the ages, is mixed with the colonial legacy. Renowned for their handicrafts, local communities offer everything from leather goods to Panama hats, wool sweaters, paintings, sketches, woodcarvings, pottery and stoneware, handcrafted jewelry and fine lace and embroidery. Travelers flock here to buy the quality crafts and goods hidden within the area's remote villages and sold at the world-renowned market in Otavalo, one of the largest and oldest indigenous craft markets in all of Latin America. Arts and crafts are just one facet of this amazing region. With lower elevations, a milder climate, and less extreme weather conditions than the central Sierras, the Northern Highlands are ideal for outdoor activities. Cayambe Volcano and its surrounding lake-trodden countryside offer plenty of exciting opportunities to explore and play. And from Cotacachi Volcano, the western slopes of the Andes begin with the boundary of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, and include the emerald jewel of Lago Cuicocha set within. The ecological reserves in this region offer some of the least explored and perhaps most underrated natural treasures in the country. This is based on our much larger Ecuador Adventure Guide. Following are reviews: "This unique region provides more geographic, biological and recreational diversity than any other country in Latin America. It has Darwin's Galapagos islands, misty cloud forests, the snow-capped Andes and the Amazon Basin. The natural attractions are unparalleled. This book is the ultimate resource for travelers. With an eye toward ecotourism, it's packed with practical travel tips and full of details about the region's unique cultures." -- Amazon customer. "Provides all the suggestions and tools necessary to put together an outstanding trip... candid... " -- The Bookwatch. "Adventure Guides aim to deliver content... Moderately-priced and truly user-friendly, they are packed with information that other series rarely cover." -- Library Journal. Covered in detail are the history, culture, geography and climate, with stops at museums, historic sites and local attractions. Also covered are places to stay and eat; transportation; practical concerns; useful websites; e-mail addresses; and tourism contacts. Detailed regional and town maps feature walking and driving tours.