Ecuador from the air: 10 exceptional flyovers

Just as there are many ways to experience a destination, today there are many means to do so. One of them — perhaps the most novel, fantastic and adventurous — is a helicopter flyover.

In Ecuador, several companies have developed this type of tourism product. These are becoming increasingly popular, since witnessing a landscape from above has a special and different charm than one provided from down below. A helicopter overflight is a unique experience, offering unforgettable perspectives and emotions.

The immensity of the valleys and highlands of Ecuador’s Andes appear like an enormous impressionist painting from the air. From this vantage, you can see the different shades of green, the orange glow of sunrises and sunsets, and waterfalls resembling fine transparent threads descending through great canyons. All this is appreciated from a flight, allowing travelers to experience an alternative version of this small region’s beauty, which is already known for its great natural and human diversity.

In Ecuador, the Avioandes company offers four aerial routes, each flying out from the capital of Ecuador: Quito. The shortest route lasts 35 minutes while the longest is around 90. The overflights travel the Ecuadorian Andes in a fleet of five helicopters, which have racked up a total of more than 25,000 hours of flight time. Complying with all international safety and security standards, in addition to personalized attention, this presents a novel alternative for traveling through the Ecuadorian Andes.

The overflights allow one to appreciate all the beauty and majesty of the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” That name was given to this area in 1812 by the German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt after viewing this awe-inspiring 180-mile stretch. Here, one can find more than 70 volcanoes, 27 of which are active. This striking landscape is filled with green valleys, rock trails, lava flows, and perpetual snow. What’s more, Ecuador ‘s Andean highland plains are dotted with Ecuadorian villages and the beauty of lagoons, waterfalls, canyons, craters, and valleys. All of this is part of the beauty that you can appreciate from the air.

These helicopter tours include the most important tourist attractions in the Ecuadorian Andes. Here, we describe part of what you can see if you opt for these fantastic aerial adventures.

Machachi

One of the country’s most productive areas for milk and agricultural products, this village is just 30 minutes south of the Ecuadorian capital. The town is characterized by the extensive plains in which graze herds of cattle led by the famous Andean “chagras” (cowhands). Observing these agricultural fields from the air is like seeing a tapestry painted by artistic masters, where shapes and colors reveal life at its best.

Cotopaxi Volcano (5,897 m above sea level)

The second highest volcano in Ecuador, and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, the Cotopaxi Volcano possesses an almost perfectly symmetrical and snowy cone. Traveling here offers one of the most impressive panoramas – both from the ground and in the air.

Bosques del Cotopaxi

The Cotopaxi National Park owns one of the most diverse and beautiful natural environments in Ecuador. Its fauna includes hawks, condors, hummingbirds, spectacled bears, tapirs, pumas, wild horses and other species, which hopefully you can spot from the air.

Antisana Volcano (5,758 m high)

Covered with huge glaciers, the Antisana Volcano is one of Ecuador’s most picturesque. Located roughly 30 miles southeast of Quito, it is the fourth highest volcano in the country. From the air, you will be able to spot lava flows on its slopes, remnants of its last eruption. Observe the surrounding landscape of lagoons, Andean paramos, and the magnitude of its spectacular glacier itself – a gift reserved for very few intrepid travelers.

Papallacta Lake

One of the most beautiful in the Andean area, this lake was formed after a major eruption of the Antisana volcano. It feeds on the thaws and streams from the Cayambe, Sarahurco and Antisana glaciers.

Pasochoa Protective Forest

A natural refuge of extraordinary characteristics and diversity of flora and fauna, this forest is located in the crater of the Pasochoa Volcano. Continually visited by biologists, students, photographers and people who love nature, this is home to majestic birds like the Andean condor. From the air, you can clearly see the full extent of the volcano’s collapsed caldera, covered with woodlands and surrounded by steep cliffs.

Middle of the World

Another of Ecuador’s emblematic sites, you can appreciate the “Middle of the World” on this overflight. Not only will you cross the equatorial line in mid-air, but traveling along it from West to East will lead you to towering Middle of the World monument and the small citadel that surrounds it.

The Condor Route

Between the volcanoes and the Andean plains live majestic condors. While known around the world, they are – unfortunately – in danger of extinction. On this overflight, you have the possibility of not only observing one of these magnificent specimens but also experience their high-altitude domain for a few minutes.

Lake Micacocha

Here you will discover one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the Ecuadorian Andes. Located in the middle of the Antisana ecological reserve, you can make out the surrounding nature trails and appreciate the flora and fauna typical of the Andean paramo highlands.

Quito

Flying over the Ecuadorian capital will undoubtedly prove to be an amazing experience. Located on a natural 2,800-meter-high platform at the foot of the Pichincha Volcano, this historic Andean city offers a special landscape from the air. From on high, travelers can discern the perfectly differentiated modern and colonial areas of the city. In addition, you will be able to see several of the human-created wonders that earned the city recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. This is the perfect attraction to both begin and end this unique and exciting adventure that will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience.

Take to the sky and experience some of Ecuador’s best from this new perspective!

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator. Surtrek Tour Operator is a well-established firm, specializing in custom-designed luxury tours in Ecuador, the Galapagos and throughout the rest of South America.

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