Two Gringos in Ecuador

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swdirtrider, Feb 9, 2021.

  1. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    Make it happen. You won’t regret it. It’s been a few weeks since we got home, and I wake every morning thinking about how much fun it was. If you have any questions hit me up, I will be more than happy to share our experiences.
    #21
  2. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    Rolling out of the museum we started west up Route E28. It was fantastic to be out of city and into the country. The traffic had thinned out, the road was a beautifully maintained 2 lane road with lots of twistes. The sun was shining and we were grinning ear to ear. A quick stop soon revealed that I had left my phone at the gift shop in the museum. It was an absolutely horrible feeling and we turned around. Within a couple hours of starting this trip I may have already lost my new iPhone 12 and it’s amazing camera.
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    I returned to the shop to find Rosa so excited to see me. She had put my phone in her safe just hoping I would return. It was my first real experience with how amazing the people of Ecuador are. We exchanged pleasantries on the google translate. She was happy I would be able to take pictures of her beautiful country home to my family. What a huge relief, so thanks again Rosa! She didn’t want a picture with her, just her shop.

    Back on track it was 40km to lunch. We both needed some food and a chance to relax. The first day is always a bit chaotic. Being on a new bike, with a new luggage system, I constantly had a feeling of forgetting something. Thankfully that faded after the first day. We made our way in perfect weather to Los Armadillos Restaurant. Situated right off the road and in a beautifully lush valley it was a perfect stop.
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    We happened to be the only people here. So after we ordered lunch it was the first opportunity to break out the drone. The Mavic Mini 2 is a perfect travel drone. It’s small size and 4K camera are perfect on the bike. The only thing it lacks is active track. The restaurant is the structure on the right side of the picture below. More video from here is in the first post.
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    The view from our seats on the patio.

    When lunch arrived we quickly realized this won’t be a trip to shed pounds. The food is amazing! Everything is so fresh and flavorful.
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    After a bit of chatting with the owner and his family it was time to head off again. They were very thankful for our business. Times are tough right now with such minimal tourism. Afternoon was dwindling and the clouds were beginning to roll in as we headed west higher into the mountains towards Mindo.
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    #22
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  3. pro69ss

    pro69ss Been here awhile Supporter

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    I’m for the trip .
    Thanks for bringing us
    #23
  4. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    After lunch we both felt like the trip was truly beginning. Ecuadors beauty began to come alive as we continued to climb into the mountains, but also into the clouds. This section of Ecuador is a cloud forest, similar to rain forests, but in higher mountainous regions. We soon took a left onto a small dirt dirt road and began the ascent into the clouds.
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    The cool wet 60 degree air was refreshing as the rain and drizzle started to fall. This was our first dirt section of many throughout this trip. My buddy, who is in most of the pics, had never ridden Adventure bikes before. In fact he really only had a few hours riding some dirt bikes with his son as previous off road experience. He’s ridden street bikes his whole life, but never even ventured into an overnight trip. Typical Harley bar hoping kinda guy=). But all that was about to change.

    This dirt road was wet but well maintained, so it provided a great opportunity for him to get comfortable. We made our way for about an hour at a slow comfortable pace. The vegetation, waterfalls, and little villages were a treat for me as he was immersed in the ride.
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    We arrived at the Bellavista Cloudforest Reserve. This spectacular lodge offers rooms, hiking trails, great food, and a gorgeous mountaintop setting. Thousands of hummingbirds call this area home.

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    A passing rain shower provided a nice opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee and talk to the host. Again we were the only people here. Next time through I think it’d be a great place to spend the evening. It’s very remote and peaceful.
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    The rain turned to a light mist and we set off for our first overnight.
    #24
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  5. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    The rest of the ride took just over 1hr30min. Most of the time was spent in the dirt with light mist and temps in the 50s. I hadn’t expected such cool weather right away, but it was very refreshing. The air was crisp, really no traffic to be seen, and it felt like we had the country to ourselves. We made the final turn towards the hotel onto another dirt road. We rode about a half mile through beautiful flowers and dense foliage while the sun started slipping away. A small bamboo gate blocked our way so we stopped in the small parking lot.
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    Through the small walkway and down a little path we were met with a stunningly beautiful hotel. Nestled in the trees and flowers was our own slice of heaven for the night. Yet again we were the only the guests here and had the place to ourselves. Our gracious host for the night, Joanna, was wonderful. She allowed us to park our bikes inside the grounds and asked when we would like dinner. It would be freshly prepared and served at 7pm sharp.

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    Peppered, chicken, fresh veggies, salad, spinach soup (which was amazing), onion bread, white wine, and carrot cake. It was a feast for a king, and a wonderful end to the first day.

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    The night with its misty cool temps, provided the perfect opportunity for a great night sleep with the window open. It seemed worlds away from the hustle and bustle we live in at home. Lights were out by 9 in anticipation of what tomorrow would bring.
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    #25
  6. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Damn @swdirtrider, excellent pics and update. Seriously damn cool that your buddy decided to take this ride, and just as cool that you're showing him the ropes as it were. What a place to get your first adventure miles logged; memories of a lifetime.

    Haven't checked into the Mini 2; how's it handle ambient wind? I use the Mavic 2 (zoom) and it's a good drone, though active track and be infuriating. Have thought about picking up the Air 2 for portability. Great shot of the jungle with place you guys had lunch. Does it have the ability to take panos or other types of photos beside stills?

    Look forward to the next update! There's 6 inches of snow on the ground and freezing rain has been falling for hours - seeing the shots of the jungle and you guys enjoying the ride...perfect.
    #26
  7. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    I’m stuck in Midland, TX for work. Wind chill is -10, ready to head back to Ecuador. Mini 2 is my first drone. Flying is a normal thing for me though, and used lots of RC stuff (airplanes, helos) and it does phenomenal in the wind for its size. I had it as high as 13500 feet with 25-30mph winds and it did great. It will take RAW, HDR bracket photos, and Panos. I bought it a week before we left so I really didn’t know what I was doing with it and didn’t play around with the still photo options. I would just take videos in 4K and screen shot them for stills. I did use ND filters to improve the video.
    #27
  8. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    Since I’ve finally made it through Day 1, I will post the video from Day 2 (make sure to select 1080 or 720 from the settings). 180 miles from Mindo to Canoa on the Northern Coast of Ecuador. The day was filled with truly memorable stops and great riding. Hopefully you enjoy the video. I will post a detailed ride report about how the day unfolded.

    #28
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  9. third eye

    third eye back road loon Supporter

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    bravo, mas mas
    #29
  10. Essbee

    Essbee Been here awhile

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    Awesome RR so far! Keep it coming!
    #30
  11. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Liv,
    Having watched your videos, please don’t settle for a drone that doesn’t have the tracking/following feature. As frustrated as you may have been getting those shots, you use them very effectively. It’s a club you should keep in your bag.

    Sorry for the hijack.
    #31
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  12. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great job on the video @swdirtrider! Opening scene looking straight down from the drone with one of you riding over the bridge - killer!

    A couple random comments from watching. First, 3 minutes was not nearly enough...LOL. Though I know how long it takes to scrub through hours of footage, so that's not a complaint. Second - are there any actual traffic rules in Ecuador :lol2 :lol2 :lol2? Watching drivers in both directions skirt that bull in the road...yow. And the passing - seems like anything goes. Shot of that one guy on a small bike ripping by you or your bud on the left...not much room for error.

    So cool to see the transition from the rain forest down to the coast. Excellent job on the drone footage from the coast - that place looks like nirvana. Totally enjoyed the video man, well done and I look forward to reading about how that day unfolded.

    @ScotsFire - no worries about me switching from a drone with active track or chase mode; primary reason I have the stupid thing (lol). I wish DJI would do something akin to what Skydio does, but I'll put up with the irritation as when it works, it captures incredible footage. And it's a good thing it doesn't have a mic - could hear the expletives from a long ways away if it did :lol3
    #32
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  13. wellcraft

    wellcraft Long timer

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    Cool pictures and videos, did the rental agency provide any assistance with route planning or do they offer guided tours? I wouldn't mind taking a trip like this but I don't have anyone to ride with me and wouldn't want to ride solo.
    #33
  14. travisn000

    travisn000 Been here awhile

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    Definitely enjoying the RR, pics and videos.. the wife and I were suppose to be down there for a month in June, but COVID closed the borders; hope to be able to make it in the next couple of years.

    I would love to see a map or gps track of the route and places you guys stopped.. some of it I am able to find with google maps, but not all.

    THANKS!

    PS..

    If the rest of you are as impatient as I am, there are videos for day 3 and 4 on his youTube channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ2mCXUJoiiHiwlofCv0dWg

    ;D
    #34
  15. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    https://freedombikerental.com/
    Ecuador Freedom is the company we used. They offer numerous self guided and guided tours. Everything from day trips to multi week trips are available. Honestly, they make it as easy as showing up and basically jumping on the bike with a PRE planned route. The hotels, food stops along the way, and points of interest are all taken care of. They have spent years finding the best routes throughout the country. I was really impressed with how each day flowed. They felt like the right distance, time, and interest level. The self guided tour we did was Cloudforest, Coast, and Craters.

    We did meet another guy from Louisiana who was in your same position. He was solo and went with a guide. His guide Andy is a great dude and they seemed to be having a blast. Send them an email or give them a call. I’m sure they can workout a guided tour for you. Everybody in the company rides, they are extremely passionate about it. You won’t regret going!!
    #35
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  16. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    Here is the route map from the Cloudforest, Coast and Crater tour off their website. It’s a general overview of the route. I don’t have GPX tracks since we used their GPSs.
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    #36
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  17. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    The morning arrived with a low hanging cloud deck and light mist. It was a beautiful contrast of the lush green vegetation against the soft grey sky. The air was cool, mid 50s, and we were excited to see where the day would take us. Our host Joanna, had a wonderful breakfast prepared for us at 7:30. As would become the norm, we started the day off with fresh juice, breads, and eggs. The bikes where nice and dry as we packed up. We said goodbye to one of our favorite people we would meet and headed west.
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    Today’s ride would be mostly pavement as we made the long journey to the coast. Despite how crazy traffic seems to be at times, it works incredibly well. Most roads are two lanes, and passing is the norm. Thankfully there is a mutual cooperation between drivers to allow faster vehicles to pass. We quickly learned that slower vehicles will move to the right, then use their left turn signal. That tells you, they want to let you by. We both found riding in Ecuador to be much a better experience than in the States.
    As we continued west and began to descend the clouds soon gave way to bright sunny skies. The temperature was also rising up into the 70s. At our first gas stop it was time to shed some layers. Gas stations are full service down here. Most of the attendants were pretty surprised by the BMWs side tank.
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    It didn’t take long after the gas stop before we made it to our first stop of the day, Laguna Azul. This small trailhead sits tucked away right off the highway. We left our bikes with the local family who’s property is at the start of trail. We bought a couple bottles of water from the kid who was excited to see us pull up. 1 US dollar got us both big bottles. We shed the riding and threw on our running shoes. On good advice we decided to take the longer hike. There are 2 different lagoons, with the further one being bigger and better. So we set off on the spectacular 2 mile hike.
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    #37
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  18. scurry0

    scurry0 Adventurer

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    Progressing well Grasshopper
    #38
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  19. Aces&8s

    Aces&8s Adventurer

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    Following
    #39
  20. swdirtrider

    swdirtrider Adventurer

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    Living in Colorado I get the opportunity to do a lot of hiking. But this place was different, not like anywhere I had hiked before. The plants were vibrant, the ground was moist, and the air was the thick. We started down the trail and quickly came across the first small lagoon. Supposedly this was the lessor of the two, so we were pumped to see what would follow.

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    The trial continued on for another 40 minutes over multiple ridge lines and fantastic handmade bridges. At times it felt like being thrown into an Indian Jones movie. The hike was a great side trip off the bikes, a chance to really see the tropical side of Ecuador. With the temps now in the low 80s and bit of humidity we both had started to break a good sweat.

    Life can be a little dangerous out here=)
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    Once we crossed the final ridge, we could hear the rushing sound of another stream. We rounded the corner and were met with one of the most tranquil scenes either of us had scene. The sounds from the rushing waterfall met the babbling of the stream as it descended down through the lush valley. This lagoon might be one of the most peaceful places on Earth. We went back and forth about taking a swim, or pressing on with the ride. Thankfully, we came to our senses pretty quick!

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    Attached Files:

    #40
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