Cuenca, Ecuador to El Cajas National Park

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by lennyledoux, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. lennyledoux

    lennyledoux Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Cuenca, Ecuador
    http://lennyledoux.smugmug.com/Moto...ional/26432044_RMdTpP#!i=2205483569&k=zZznXfK

    Here in Cuenca, Ecuador I live in a valley at 8,000 ft surrounded by mountains which reach heights of 12,000 ft. There is no snow at these lower elevations as we are only three degrees south of the Equator. You have to get into the upper elevations, around 21,000 ft to get into snow. Cotapaxi in the North near Quito, is the highest in Ecuador at around 23,000 ft. They are all active volcanoes and these earth pimples pop from time to time.

    So I bought a new, unsold 2011 Yamaha XTZ250 in August on which to ride up into the mountains of my new country and see what there is to see. This motorcycle is not the same as the XT250 sold in the USA. I found this out after buying a Immix Racing luggage rack. Nice piece of equipment, doesn't fit this bike which is made in Brazil. Another difference is the new model for 2013 sold in the States will have Fuel Injection, this one already has it. So while it might be a trail bike in the States, it is just perfect for me down here. A 400 would be good, but I really have no complaints with this bike. I need something that is street legal in order to get to the mountains, although I don't have to go far.

    On this particular outing I was into the mountains in about 15km. To the West of Cuenca is Banos Cuenca, they have thermal springs there. Further West is Soldados and that was my destination. I didn't know there was an entrance to the El Cajas National Park there until I arrived at the blockade across the road. I didn't have my cedula, which is like a National I.D. card with me as my wife needed it for some business that day, and so I couldn't sign it. However, Xavier the Ranger fetched a nice park map for me and then raised the bar. I only went about 10km in, you can see that I was above the tree line and into some rugged beauty. I will return, and soon. The pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the river valley the road runs alongside. Large and small ranches raising cattle and horses. The pueblo of Soldados is quite small and I will stop and do some business at the local mini-mercado on my next trip and say Hola to the folks. I really need to study my Rosetta Stone Spanish, however, a career on the computer designing aircraft tooling has pretty well burned me out on sitting in front of one for very long. With great weather I much prefer getting out into the countryside. I have taken several trips, none of them longer than four or five hours and have seen places that most natives don't know exist. Sometimes one side of the road has electricity and the other side does not. In most of the places I may encounter a pickup truck or two, but most of the people are on horseback. On a couple of occasions I have asked to take pictures and the people have declined my offer. I have prepared a flyer that I will post in a few local places in Cuenca in hopes of finding a riding partner. I am also hoping to entice my good friend Don in Seattle to fly down this winter and spend a few days and check out the scenery. I think by January or February he should be pretty tired of the rain, don't you?

    Here in Cuenca it is perpetual springtime, the average low is 55 and the average high is 73. It is rumored to have the second best water in South America but I have not been able to verify that, nor the number one place. Gasoline is subsidized, probably by the high cost of imported goods, this motorcycle cost me $8K whereas in the States it is about $5,200. So diesel is $1.05, regular is $1.48 and premium is $2.19 but it does vary whereas the other two don't. I hope this smugmug link works and you enjoy the pictures. Lenny 0980535546.
    #1
  2. momanor

    momanor Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    16
    Thanks for the pictures Cuenca has been on my short list for a while..
    #2
  3. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    935
    Location:
    Salinas, Santa Elena, Ecuador
    I am coming to cuenca the weekend of december 8/9 for a wedding and staying in the sierra for a few days to poke around. I would love to get a ride in with you if you would like to show me around.
    I'll shoot you a pm as it gets closer with my phone number.
    Mike
    #3
  4. Vinny V strom

    Vinny V strom Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Austin, Tx
    Thank you for posting.
    #4
  5. lennyledoux

    lennyledoux Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Cuenca, Ecuador
    I will be in Guayaquil on the 8th for my niece First Communion, not sure what time I will get back although I suspect it will be Saturday afternoon. My wife is from Guayaquil, I own a house there, lots of family but it is just too doggone hot and humid for me down there and it will start getting insufferable in December. I mean it is so hot and muggy and raining very hard from January to March that the schools close! We can be talking 115 degrees, Oh, that is like summer in Houston:) But feel free to get in touch and we will see what we can do. I will presume you have access to a bike?
    #5
  6. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    935
    Location:
    Salinas, Santa Elena, Ecuador
    I ride a chinese 200cc tundra, i'm interested to see how it does at higher elevations:rofl
    I know what you mean about the heat. We used to live in Canoa up north and though not as hot as GYE it gets too hot and humid for me. Here on the peninsula we get a constant cool ocean breeze which was what sold me on the place!
    I think i will be at the wedding all day saturday and then be free so i will be in touch!
    Mike
    #6
  7. Hipster

    Hipster Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,819
    Location:
    Mpls, Mn.
    Great photos, thank you for sharing.
    #7
  8. lennyledoux

    lennyledoux Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Cuenca, Ecuador
    Miguelitro, I looked at a number of the Chinese bikes, nearly bought one but my car mechanic who rides Enduros here indicated he would no longer work on my car if I did:) I was concerned about reliability, parts, etc. So I bought the Yamaha, so far it has performed very well. A 400 would be nice, but very few instances where I really needed extra power.

    Hipster: You are sitting on a gold mine with those two bikes. I looked at them as well as my friend in Seattle rides a 990 Adventure that he bought new, one year old for $11,000. Here the exact same bike is $27K, a little rich for my blood. Frankly, as I have told him, I don't know that I would want to wrestle that much weight on some of the stuff I am riding on and the somewhat twitchy throttle could put me over a very steep cliff in a heartbeat. Probably not that bad but my point is that the new coming out Katoom 300 was interesting, but once again the price was like $14K.
    #8
  9. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    935
    Location:
    Salinas, Santa Elena, Ecuador
    The motor takes xr200 parts so they are available if need be from the honda shop here in salinas/la libertad. I had a front wheel bearing go out yesterday and was able to buy japanese bearings for 1.75$ each. Of course the one that was bad popped out with the race still in the hub so to get the mechanic to extract that cost me 3$ on top of the parts:rofl i almost pulled the trigger on the honda 250 tornado for a little over twice the price i paid for mine but a friend here who has a few thousand km's on his Tundra really likes his and convinced me to give the china bike a try. for 1500$(included 2 helmets, SOAT insurance and matricula/registration) I believe they are worth a shot.
    The motor is warranteed for 12,000kms or 1 year and you get 5 services from the authorized mechanic.
    Mike
    #9
  10. lennyledoux

    lennyledoux Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Cuenca, Ecuador
    I forget the name of the model I was seriously considering, but it was a 250, water cooled and had disc brakes front and rear. It actually looked pretty good and I would have been out the door for $2,250 without the SOAT and so forking over the coin for the Yamaha took me a few days. I took the Yamaha over the Honda for the rear disc brake and fuel injection. Not sure how long I will stay with the dual sport Metzeler Sahara's though, I think I would prefer a full knobby.

    I have been to Salinas several times, the last time in 2008. I have been coming to Ecuador since May 2003 and actually honeymooned in Salinas in Octubre, 2003. One of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. Interesting how different the bay side is vs the southern coast side of the peninsula. Almost nothing over there and the ocean just looks mean. But I like Salinas better than Playas although some of the family are telling me Playas is nicer now and they prefer it. Someday I will get down to the basin and I want to see Manta as well.
    #10
  11. M.Medel

    M.Medel Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    129
    Location:
    Madrid ,Spain
    Nice pictures of the places ...
    greetings
    Medel
    #11
  12. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    935
    Location:
    Salinas, Santa Elena, Ecuador
    I have not seen a china bike that is water cooled yet down here! I surf on the southern side most days and though it looks grey and cold and mean, its really 78-82* and nice! playas is nice but too close to GYE:evil. It is closer to the sierra roads but further from the good coastal stuff! Manta is a great ride up the coast but not much there to keep me there.
    I'm a young, 34 yo, semi retiree so I appreciate the night life salinas has to offer though I understand it can be noisy here.
    I'm still coming up to Cuenca and sure would like a tour guide.
    Mike
    #12