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The Volcanos of Ecuador

Volcano Alley

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Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

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The road south from Quito to Latacunga and Ambato and then to Cuenca is the Pan American Highway, the Pananericana, and it runs through a long, fertile, central valley sometimes known as Volcano Alley. On either side of the valley rise parallel sets of mountains with nine of the country's highest peaks . The volcanos of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Sangay. Pichincha Cotopaxi and Sangay are among the world's top ten most active volcanos.

The volcanos of Ecuador elicit oohs and ahs from travelers, and with the eruptions in recent years, are sights both appalling and irresistible. During the last quarter of 1999, the daily threat from Pichincha which towers over Quito, kept the city in a constant state of readiness for large scale evacuation.

This smoke and ash from Guagua Pichincha was a familiar sight as people waited for massive eruptions. Browse through these photos at Galería del Guagua Pichincha for more views of the eruptions.

Farther south the beautifully formed volcano of Tungurahua with a summit covered with permanent snow reaches a height of 5016m (16,450ft). It towers over the small popular town of Baños and although it had been quiet for years, it was still considered to be one of the most active in Ecuador. That activity erupted as you can see in Galería del Tungurahua.

The first documented eruption of Sangay was in 1628 and it has been erupting almost continually since 1934. It is in the Sangay National Park which includes Tungurahua and El Altar and is a Natural World Heritage Site. Its natural regions, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, physiographic formations, geology, history, and other unique characteristics make it the most outstanding protected area in mainland Ecuador

Away from Volcano Alley are two more active volcanos. Reventador is in the Eastern Cordillera east of Quito. This is a rare photo of the peak as it is usually obscured by clouds.

On the Galapagos island of Isabela Cerro Azul eruptions in 1998 make a colorful display in the night sky. Eruption on Isabela - Cerro Azul Volcano has the story. Also in the Galapagos La Cumbre Volcano on Fernandina last erupted in 1988. Though classified as active, Ecuador on Isabela is a geological puzzle.

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