Unlike the portions that go through Peru and Chile, the Pan-American Highway that cuts through Ecuador runs mostly inland. Still, it is a dream of a drive for anyone who loves roadtrips and long cruises through beautiful countryside. Better yet, many of Ecuador's top destinations popular on any South America vacation packages can be found along the way so you don't have to sacrifice any opportunities for fun. Let's see where this famous stretch of road can take you:
Starting from the north, the first notable city that the Pan-American Highway passes is Tulcán. Like many border locations, it is mostly a busy transportation hub for those on the go. One strange but interesting sight to see is the Tulcán Cemetery. The graveyard is surprisingly pleasant and features a labyrinth of sorts of artistically landscaped topiary work that take the shapes of traditional sculpture and art designs.
Next up is Quito, the country's capital. Set between two mountain ranges, those not acclimated with high altitudes may take some time to rest up before moving onward. The lively colonial city boasts a wide array of architectures sure to please any photographer, and the historic Old City center is a complete treasure to soak in. Views of the charming surrounding peaks will be visible wherever you go. As well, a number of cultural and historical museums cater to those who wish to learn. Give the city at least one day to a few days to fully appreciate all of its character.
Driving further along south, you will soon reach Ambato, another transportation center. There is not much to see in the town itself; more of note is Riobamba about 52 kilometers further which is a good place to base yourself out of for any intentions of visiting the Chimborazo volcano. The volcano is a great activity for mountain climbers, while those seeking a more simple adventure can just embark on a few small hikes. As well, there are train rides that depart to the Devil's Nose, a famous South America Andean mountain range set in a gorgeous landscape.
When you've gotten your fill of nature, your last major stop before charging down to Peru will be Cuenca. This city is a truly lovely sight to behold during your Ecuador vacations. Its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well founded as a result of all the Inca, Cañari, and Spanish influences that have affected its culture and architectures. And yet, it is a great place to catch up on the modern comforts of home as is often available in large cities.