Sierra consists of two major chains of the Andes mountains, known as the
Cordillera Occidental (Western Chain) and Cordillera Oriental (Eastern
Chain), and the intermontane basin or plateau between the two chains.
Several transversal mountain spurs, known as nudos, cut across the
plateau. The Nudo del Azuay, at 4,500 meters the highest of these
transversal spurs, divides the Sierra into two subregions
the area of modern volcanism to the north and the area of ancient volcanism to the south. The former area consists of newer, higher
mountains than those in the ancient volcanism section, which with time
have eroded to lower levels.
The rainy season in this area lasts from October to
May, with an average annual temperature range of 11.5° to 18° C. The
daily variation, however, can be extreme with very hot days and quite
cold nights. Yet, some often refer to the Sierra climate as "eternal
spring". The Sierra's climatic conditions,
as well as recent volcanic activity, has produced peculiar and
interesting plant formations that distinguish the area's beautiful
landscapes called the paramo. One tenth
(2'500.000 H.) of the Ecuadorian land area is covered with paramos or
high altitude dry vegetation. Situated between 3,500 and 4,500 m. above
sea level, this is a habitat ideal for condors, caracaras, deer, llamas,
vicuñas, multicolored flowers and hummningbirds. Ecuador's region of the Andes consists of over 30
volcanic cones, many over 5,000 meters and almost a third still active.
One of these the snow-capped Cotopaxi is the world's highest active
volcano. Numerous national parks and protected areas of wilderness
feature a wide range of microclimates and enormous bio-diversity, making
the Sierra a paradise
the capital of Ecuador, is a vibrant, modern city with roots in the
Incan Empire and Colonial Spain. The country is characterized by
diversity of people, language, and environment.
Located in the Andes mountain range 2.800 meters above sea level, Quito
occupies a plateau of 12.000 square kilometers. Its environmental
temperature oscillates between 50 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 25
centigrade degrees). The climatic contrasts that are presented during
the course of a day, allows one to enjoy the four seasons of the year
around the clock - as if having eternal spring.
by the Spanish in 1557, Cuenca is the third-largest city in Ecuador and
one of the prettiest. It is known as the capital of culture and arts and
its beautiful buildings are very well preserved. The old centre has
churches dating from the 16th and 17th century, plenty of old buildings,
and cobblestone streets. It is also home to the famous panama hat and
the old fabrics can still be visited. The surrounding villages are also
worth visiting and famous for their handicrafts, jewelry and their
traditional markets. The countryside is pretty. Fifty km north is the
Inca fortress of Ingapirca, Ecuador's best preserved pre-colonial ruin.
Otavalo is located two hours north of Quito in Ecuador's Andean highlands.
About 50,000 people reside in the town from where the famous market took
its name. Surrounded by volcanoes, the market place is in a beautiful
setting. People from all over the world
come to see the famous market, where an abundance of handicrafts can be