Without a doubt, the central Andean region of Ecuador is the mainland highlight, both literally and touristically speaking. It is the “backbone” of the country’s natural and historical uniqueness. You must see for yourself why the capital city, Quito, well-established 3,000 years before the Incan conquest in 1487, continues to win, year after year, the prestigious World Travel Awards! And to the south lies Cuenca which, along with Quito, is the second World Cultural Heritage Site that Ecuador proudly holds and that, due to its enviable location and unrivaled attractiveness, has become the top destination for expats stemming from around the world – in short, watch out, you might just want to stay there! And what to say about Otavalo, just north of the capital, and home to the most successful indigenous community in Latin America. Their handcrafts are true masterworks, famous the world over, and their economic success that goes hand in hand with their ironclad traditions dating back thousands of years. But what’s more, these cultural treasures are nestled in a wonderland of peaks that line the Andean Cordillera, like Mt Cotopaxi, the world’s second highest active volcano; Mt Chimborazo, the farthest point from the earth’s center, surpassing Mt Everest by 10 feet (6 meters), geodetically speaking!; Mt Tungurahua, overshadowing the thermal springs town of Baños, the most user-friendly volcano Ecuador has to offer, given that its ashes fall in the opposite direction of the photographer when it decides to give a show! Moreover, with an approximate 180 volcanic cones and an almost similar number of geothermal sources, Andean Ecuador enjoys unrivaled agricultural variety in a wonderland of checkboard farmlands whose produce can be seen at its multicolored native markets, and savored in its delectable gastronomic delights. And halfway down the eastern or western slopes of the Andes lie the amazingly lush cloud forests of Mindo and Baeza, among others, home to over 4,500 species of orchids and the highest concentration of hummingbird species in the world – accented by countless waterfalls and cable cars hovering over amazing gorges and rushing streams.