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People who have never visited Ecuador often picture it as a land of steamy jungles astride the Equator, bordered by the Pacific Ocean. They are unaware that a large area is Andean Highlands, dominated by a range of towering snow-covered volcanoes and highland valleys that form a significant temperate ecological region. However, this region also has cloud forests, national parks, ecological reserves, and archaeological sites.

Visitors can admire Quito’s colonial and historic beauty, including the remarkable colonial art in its gold leaf altars in the churches (of which there are as many as 87), convents, and attractive small squares. Then they can continue to the monument of the Equator Line, where the northern and southern hemispheres meet.

The Highlands Andean region is characterized by having kept may of its colonial and pre-colonial customs and traditions, especially in the small towns. One of them, perhaps the most deeply-rooted, is the Indian Market.

Once in the Andes, visitors can walk through the Ingapirca Ruins, the main ruins left by the Incas in Ecuador, and then continue to Cuenca, one of the most beautiful cities of Ecuador. Cuenca has kept is colonial style, especially in the old section where Calderón Park is flanked by two Cathedrals. A must is the famous Devil’s Nose train ride, to experience the switchbacks, while you descend 300 meters in a couple of minutes.