It’s no surprise that there are plenty of thrills to be had in a country that boasts such dramatically changing terrain, where rolling plains rise sharply through foothills to 5,000-meter-high mountains only to drop down again to tropical rainforest.
Whether you want to zoom downhill on a bike, kayak through river rapids, or scale a peak with an ice axe, there’s enough to give adrenaline junkies their fix. Note that climbing mountains should not be attempted lightly, and you need sufficient time to acclimate to peaks over 4,000 meters:
• Go on an exhilarating full-day downhill bike ride near Quito in the Intag Valley. Follow this with a hike in the Lagunas de Mojanda and climb Fuya Fuya , excellent practice for higher peaks.
• Hike around the base of the volcano, and do some cycling in Cotopaxi National Park . If you want to scale the peak, you will need to spend a couple of days here.
• From Riobamba, hike to the Collanes plain at the foot of El Altar for Ecuador’s most impressive volcanic panorama—the jagged peaks of Obispo, Monjes, and Tabernacle loom over Laguna Amarilla as glacier ice tumbles down the slopes. Camp up here for one night in the thatched chozas.
• At Chimborazo National Park  choose among hiking, cycling, or climbing. The peak is more technical to climb and so requires longer preparation and more experience.
• In Baños, do some cycling, rafting, and hiking, or simply unwind in the thermal baths. Alternately, head south to do some horseback riding and trekking in Podocarpus National Park , where you can camp among glacial lakes or hike through verdant forests.