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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SturgisChick, Jun 24, 2014.
Good to hear your OK. As far as blue boobies, if there's no pics than it didn't happen.
Wow great adventures you are enjoying, thank you for taking us along, Stay safe!
Thanks so much, RiderRick. Wishing you safe and happy riding!
Pics to follow soon though. Hope you are well!
I'm better now seeing you post again.
We follow the PanAm to Quito where we hope to try and find a bargain tour to the Galapagos. It's been a bucket list item of mine and thankfully Brian is willing to give it a go. Please accept my apologies in advance for the next two posts, because we didn't have the bikes in the Galapagos so I'm not really sure it should be part of a "ride report", but the Galapagos were incredible so I'm going to share some pics.
Quito was our home base for a few days while I shopped local travel agencies in person and online. After 3 days in town we booked a one week trip to the islands that was to depart 4 days later. We arranged to leave our bikes parked at the hostel and store some gear in a locked storage area while we were gone. Quito is a beautiful city, filled with lots of tribal people in their traditional dress.
The city sprawls for miles to the north and south while it's crammed from east to west in a narrow high valley.
We take a day to see the old part of the city and visit some of the old churches, Plaza Grande and the Basilica where we climb up for a rooftop view that is spectacular.
The builder designed the church with gargoyles that are actually animals and birds all found in Ecuador and the Galapagos.
We stop in to see the guys at Freedom Bike, Sylvain and Court, and they were awesome - giving us suggested rides throughout the country mixing dirt, tarmac, mountains and beaches. You name it and Ecuador probably has it and you can fly in and rent a bike from them in Quito if you don't have the time to get here on your own bike.
We flew out of Quito bound for Guayaquil first before heading off shore to the Galapagos. That first flight was short, only 40 minutes or so. We can see the volcano Tungurahua blowing up in the center of Ecuador as we fly above the clouds.
First stop, Baltra Island...then a water taxi to the northern edge of Santa Cruz and a shared taxi with two backpackers for a 45- minute ride to the other side of the island and a couple of nights in Puerto Ayora.
We stop at the fish market and watch the pelicans and sea lions begging for scraps from the cleaning process.
We spend a day hiking out to a beach through a cactus forest, which was incredibly beautiful. We see lava lizards, loads of birds and plants and then reach the beach where we see black marine iguanas and young Sally Lightfoot crabs along with the more mature red ones.
We visit the Darwin Research Center where we see land iguanas which are more yellow, and the incredible giant tortoises.
Sea lions laze all over town, on docks, sidewalks and benches.
Another day we hike out to Las Grietas, a big crack/small canyon in the lava rock bedrock of this island that has filled with dark blue brackish water. Locals swim here, but thankfully it's empty when we visit, and it's a gorgeous place.
Most of our trip was booked as a cruise out to some of the smaller islands to get to see a lot of different landscapes, fish, birds and wildlife. So after a couple of days on land we head back to the airport to meet our guide and then transfer to the boat. Then the real fun begins!
Just remember it's a ride report because of your choice of transportation. Please share everything you do with your loyal followers who live vicariously through travels as well as all the other adventures seekers on this forum. BTW, it great to see where your bucket list takes us.
Thanks for the open perspective and most of all for following along.
We spend 4 nights and 5 days on the boat and our first afternoon we are already seeing new things...we walk to a laguna on Santa Cruz to see pink Flamingoes feeding.
We spend that afternoon snorkeling, which becomes part of our daily routine when we snorkel twice each day and hike twice each day as well. We spend our first morning on the boat at Rabida Island and see sea lions basking on the red sand in the sun.
When we cross between islands we see dolphins playing in the surf.
Sunrises and sunsets are so lovely.
We see marine iguanas on most of the islands.
On Santiago we hike along a lava flow for a morning, and the designs in the lava are incredible. All the islands are stunningly beautiful.
Another day we snorkel along Bartolome Island and swim past Pinnacle Rock while watching penguins and sharks in the water, and thousands of fish, chocolate chip starfish, and so much more.
As we reach the dock at Bartolome Island for the hike to the top, we are greeted by a sea lion and then a Galapagos Hawk waits for us at the end of the trail.
The view from the top is incredible.
We take Zodiac rides along lava flows, rocky and sandy shores and through a mangrove swamp. There are dozens of kinds of birds here, including Brown Pelicans and Blue Footed Boobys.
We see Spotted Eagle Rays in the mangroves too.
And on our last morning on the boat we take another Zodiac ride and watch the sun rise behind sea lions on the dunes.
The trip was a stretch for our budgets, but worth every penny! And incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience...
Now back to the bikes!
Thanks for the shout out! Hope you are enjoying the riding! If you have any troubles, feel free to call.
Thought I had subscribed to your RR but for some reason I didn't get notified so I am replying to let you know I am following along and enjoy your summaries of each country you are riding through.
PM sent about Galapagos Island.. I am curious about the details on getting there..
Thanks for the great pictures of the Galapagos Islands and now I understand the remark about the blue boobys.
Ok, so maybe I lied a little - there are pics of boobies in my ride report! Ha!
Got your message and will be happy to help in any way I can.
Court and Sylvain at Freedom Bike in Quito gave us a few recommended rides for Ecuador, including some of their favorites and some great dirt riding. We opted to take one of the routes they suggested in Central Ecuador as we rode out of Quito. So Brian leads us south of the city on the PanAm as far as Lasso and then he turns off and we head west toward Sigchos. The road is a narrow, twisty, switchback-filled stunner.
It's an overcast, grey day but it's perfect riding weather and so far it's been dry. We pass lots of small farms and villages on the way. And I see more of the political ads that people paint on their houses. I guess you must really love a candidate to do that, but maybe they pay for the paint to change it later...
It's obviously rained here before we came, as there are lots of little streams and waterfalls here.
And it's so lush and green...
We finally wind our way down and through a valley and around some bends into the next one and then top a hill and ride into the hilltop village of Sigchos. We find a small restaurant for lunch. There isn't a menu, and they are only serving one thing today. We each get a plate and a cup of juice. And at first I think the rolled up "things" in the gravy are tortillas, but I find out they are rolls of pork fat. I try to be discreet and not insult anyone, and smuggle some out to a dog on the street. All the rest of it was pretty good, and warm on this chilly damp day.
The road we want to take out of town climbs up a steep hill on a type of cobblestoned surface that uses round river rocks...and as we head out it starts to rain. Not the best combination, but thankfully we got out before it really started to rain. We have an hour of pouring rain and wet roads to Chugchilan where we plan to stay at a hostel for the night.
And finally it clears up just before we hit Chugchilan.
The center of Ecuador is bisected by the PanAm Highway which runs generally north to south. There are high mountain ranges on each side of the PanAm and many of the tallest peaks are dormant or active volcanoes. The area has been dubbed the Avenue of Volcanoes, and it's incredibly beautiful. We are riding toward one of the dormant volcanoes which has collapsed and now forms a large crater lake, Lago de Quilotoa.
The small village of Quilotoa and the crater lake are about 15 miles from Chugchilan where we are staying. There's a good hike some people at the hostel tell us about and we decide to stay an extra day or two and do. We catch an early morning bus to Quilotoa and hike around 1/3 of the crater rim and then drop down into a canyon on the backside and cross a valley and canyon, and river, to make our way back to Chugchilan. It's a 5-hour grueling hike for me...super steep. And worth every ache and pain I feel for the next two days.
As we descend from the ridgeline we see women working fields by hand and tending sheep, and they are dressed in traditional clothing - skirts, stockings, wool sweaters and hats.
We walk through a small village with lovely murals painted on some of the buildings.
The last as-the-crow-flies mile of the hike we descend 1500 feet and have to climb back up that and a few more on the other side, just to cross a "bridge" made of a few logs over a narrow river.
Wow, Ecuador....could you be any more beautiful?!
After riding through the construction zone of a road between Chugchilan and Quilotoa we get to some non-construction road...whew. And we head south toward the highway and then will ride east toward Latacunga where we catch the PanAm Highway south and into a city, Ambato. Brian rode the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay in August 2011 at the end of his Ushuaia-to-Prudhoe Bay ride and when he stopped for a pic at the Arctic Circle he met a fellow rider.
Julio had ridden all the way up from Ecuador after riding around South America.
So they had some stories to share. Brian and Julio kept in contact and he has invited us to stay with him and his family in Ambato. He's at work when we arrive but a family friend from across the road whisks us into his driveway and home for a homemade lunch. It's amazing how friendly everyone is here...reminds me of home.
We wind up staying almost a week with Julio and we get a few chores done. Julio recommends a great day ride loop around Volcan Chimborazo, so one weekday morning we ride out for the 150-miles or so ahead of us. The clouds at first don't let us see the peak of this 20,564 feet giant. The peak of Chimborazo is further from the center of the earth than the top of Mount Everest is because of the Equatorial Ridge....wow.
The ride takes us up onto a high plain and the wind really picks up. We see alpacas (or are they llamas?) along the edge of the road.
And finally the clouds clear for me to get a peak at Chimborazo.
I start to see signs warning us to slow down as there are Vicunas grazing in the area too. As big as a deer and easily spooked and unpredictable, they'd make a mess of my bike, so I keep my eyes open.
They are everywhere on this open plain.
We stop to get a couple of photos along the road...
And at the entry gate....we had heard if we sweet-talked the guard he might let us ride up another 400 meters (in elevation, its about an 8km ride) to get a better view....but I must not have been very sweet with my talk that day. The best we were allowed to do was take a pic at the gate.
Then around the far side we go and head for Riobamba and the last half of our loop.
When we get back to Ambato that night Julio's mother shows me that Tungurahua, another local volcano that has been erupting for 15 years, can be seen clearly tonight with its plume of smoke and ash.
We go out for a special treat for lunch with day with Julio and his padres...and we all dines on a single Cuy - aka. guinea pig.
Words can't express how lovely and generous Julio and his family were. We had such a great time with them, and really appreciated them sharing some of their culture with us. We came down with a case of food poisoning one night and Julio's mom made some "magic" soup which helped us recover really quickly. And I know Brian and Julio had a good time reminiscing about the Dalton.
Muchas gracias, amigos! If we can ever return the favor...
We ride out of Ambato and head east about an hour and a half to the small town of Baños, named for the baths that spring from the mountains here. Tungurahua, located right on the edge of town, has been erupting here for more than 15 years.
We've been told that each state/province here makes its on special type of candy and a type of liqueur. We sampled the Pajaro Azul (anis seed flavored liqueur) back in Ambato and we see the local taffy being made in many of the shops.
We stop by on a Sunday and are considering taking a dip in one of the local thermal pools, but its crazy busy so we stop back on Monday instead. The cloudy yellow water isn't very appealing but its said to be very healthy so we go for a dip.
We head up the steep mountainside toward the Casa del Arbol (aka tree house) which a famous little spot where you can swing out over the mountainside and get a good look at the volcano and valley below.
From the top we hike down to town again using a narrow trail that follows the steep ridgeline ziggin and zaggin its way down to the giant statue of the Virgen who watches over the town.
We look back just as the clouds clear to get a peak at Tungurahua blowing off some steam and smoke. There's a great camping spot across the valley where you can watch red lava running in streaks down Tungurahua's sides at night, but it rains a lot when we are here, so we don't get to see that.
I'm going to have to go to Ecuador one day....
Michelle great updates, still not sure about the Cuy...tell Brian he really needs to work on his Captain Morgan stance though oser