TROPICROB RACHOWIECK / LONELY PLANET IMAGESActive adventures in the AndesEcuador is an increasingly popular destination for active outdoor adventures. The landscapes are dramatic and challenging with a feeling of remoteness, although major towns are readily accessible. Trekking, climbing, cycling and horse riding opportunities abound; here we highlight just a few of them.Mountain walking: Based at a rustic lodge,the Black Sheep Inn, among the fields andmountains southwest of Quito, you'll drive up to the rim of the volcanic crater of Quilotoa to view the gem-clear lake within (below). The walk back is one of the country's most scenic, passing through villages and crossing a canyon.Trekking up Cotopaxi: The near-perfect cone of Mount Cotopaxi (below), at 5,897m is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, and is also rated as one of the most beautiful. Shrouded in snow, it offers the climber an awesome view into its crater. Technically it's not difficult, but don't underestimate it?it's a tough climb. With a couple of days for acclimatisation, you'll get to the summit on the fifth day after climbing the terrain above the snow-line with crampons. On a clear day, there are views over the surrounding peaks. Horse-riding: Your exhilarating ride is well organised: we work with a highly professional English-owned company. The horses are well cared for, the routes carefully devised, and the needs of riders of all standards catered for. Rides are between 1-5 days, staying at haciendas or a working farm. Ride south to the Cotopaxi and Antisana areas (pp92-93), or northwards through green valleys towards Otavalo (p94). Cycling: Ecuador is an excellent destination for cycling. The mountain, lake and forest views are a given and there is a network of ancient trails, many still used by local people to get around, which can be easily ridden on two wheels. You can cycle in the sub-tropical countryside outside the resort of Baños, or over the rim of the eastern cordillera through Amazon cloud forest to the thermal springs at Papallacta (p92). Most spectacular of all is the descent of Cotopaxi volcano.100 Ecuador
ISABEL TROYAMETROPOLITAN TOURING020 8747 8315 / journeylatinamerica.co.uk bookings, consultant advice and additional information 101 chimborazo adventure Trekking and riding is a wonderful way of discovering the protected highlands skirting Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak at 6,310m (above and right). The area is speckled with the farms and villages of indigenous people who maintain a centuries-old way of life. Travel by road to Riobamba (see 'Avenue of the Volcanoes' p92). Depending on your chosen length of stay, you will have various horse riding (suitable for beginners) and hiking excursions in the area. You'll spend a night in Riobamba and then subsequent nights at the mountain lodge of Estrella del Chimborazo.