Ecuador may be famous for the Galapagos, but there’s another attraction just as great as blue-footed boobies – volcanoes. In fact, the country does them so well there’s an entire Avenue of Volcanoes, a 320-kilometre stretch that runs south from the capital, Quito, with seven huge peaks sprouting from the earth. The luxurious, 20-room CotopaxiPungo is set among them, carefully positioned to escape any hot magma that might ooze a path of destruction should one monster mountain blow its lid. It is, however, within view of some of the finest, including the snow-capped cone of Cotopaxi, which rumbled back to life last year sending whorls of smoke into the air.
The hotel itself resembles a traditional hacienda (colonial estate), complete with wooden floors, antiques and cosy fires to warm those chilly nights. And, sitting at 3350 metres, it does get cold up here. Spend your days exploring the Andes on horseback, visiting waterfalls, spying hummingbirds and testing your photography skills with tips from manager Juan Carlos, who’s an expert at snapping the giants. Return for honest, local cuisine in the dining room with 180-degree views of the landscape and the lights of Quito glimmering in the distance.
Doubles from US$147 a night.