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Northern Ecuador Discovery PDF Print E-mail

Northern Ecuador Discovery

A Self-Guided Dual-Sport Adventure

(2 days / 1 Night)




  • Time required:  2 days / 1 night
  • Dual Sport Adventure: 65% unpaved road / 35% paved road
  • Total Distance Covered: 217 miles / 349 kilometers
  • Accomodations: 1 night in a private cabin at the Nangulvi Hot Volcanic Springs
  • Elevation changes:  several - from 2000 feet (750 meters) to 13,000 feet (3900 meters)
  • Highlights: Route of the Hummingbirds, Nangulvi Hot Springs, Cuicocha Crater Lake, Cotacachi Leather Market, Peguche Waterfalls, Otavalo Indigenous Market, Mojanda Lake, Inti-nan Equator Museum
  • Climatic Zones: Cloudforest, Tropical Rainforest, Dry Arid Forest, Highlands Pampa
  • Departures:  Daily prior to 12:00 noon

    You will start from our shop in Quito on a motorcycle of your choice equipped with a GPS unit containing a pre-programmed route and you will be given a briefing to provide you with information about the day's ride, local traffic rules and basic riding customs in Ecuador.
    Once on the road, you will head north towards Cayambe, an indigenous town with a view of the Cayambe volcano.   There, you can stop and take some pictures at the Equator Monument and stand with your feet in two hemispheres at the same time (if you don't stop here you will have a second chance on the way back, when you cross the equator for the second time).  From Cayambe, you will pass by the relaxing shores of Lake San Pablo, a great place for lunch.
    Then you will head into the town of Otavalo, famous for its indigenous peoples' market and the handwoven textiles they make there.  After Otavalo, you will want to visit the town of Cotacachi, famous for its exquisite leather goods.  From Cotacachi, you will wind through the mountains to the magnificent crater lake of Cuicocha (Guinea Pig Lake).  With astonishing views all the way, you will head through the rainforest and curvy roads, back to Quito.


    This tour will take you to some of the most spectacular and interesting sights in Ecuador in just two days.  This is a dual-sport adventure and this means you should be comfortable with riding large portions of unpaved roads.  It is not a very challenging or "technical" ride -but will get you into some remote areas.   You should be eble to handle muddy conditions or change in weather and climates.  You will pass through several climatic zones and natural wildlife reserves including the Nono Biological Reserve, the  Intag Cloudforest Reserve, Peguche Waterfall Reserve, Cotocachi National Park, and the Mojanda Lake Reserve.  It is also a chance to learn about the Indigenous culture of Northern Ecuador and to experience firsthand the curious gravitational effects at the Equator.


    Day 1
    Quito - Nono - Nanegal - Playa Rica - Nangulvi Hot Springs

    130 km / 81 miles (70% unpaved road)

    You'll start this tour at our offices located in Quito, the magnificent capital city of Ecuador nestled in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 9,000 feet (2980 meters).  You will be outfitted with the dual-sport motorcycle of your choice equipped with a luggage or saddlebags, GPS navigation system with a pre-programmed route, a generous set of spare parts, tools, a map, and riding gear.   You will be given a thoughtful presentation to orient you with the equipment and the riding customs and rules of the road (written and unwritten) of Ecuador.  

    ecoruta del quinde on motorcycle from quito to mindo and tandayapaThe GPS will take you out of Quito on the scenic "Route of the Hummingbird" which first climbs the footholds of the Pichincha Volcano, giving you breathtaking views of the city below.  Then you will find yourself amongst fertile farms and descend into a valley in a charming country town of Nono - a world away from Quito yet just a few kilometers outside of the city.   This is a good place to stop and take a big breath of mountain fresh air!  You will continue along the twisty back roads and stop to marvel at the beautiful, three-tiered Guagrapampa Waterfall - a short hike but a great place to swim or just relax.  The next few miles will be through one of the world's most biodiverse regions, the Nono Biological Reserve, a region that often wins the Audobon's society contests for the large number of bird species present.   Here there are other amazing creatures such as intensely colorful frogs, spectacled bears and colorful wildflowers and orchids. 

    You will pass through the friendly rainforest town of Nanegal and its sister town, Nanegalito.  You will be descending from the cloudforest to the rainforest and you will witness a change in vegetation and climate.  You will be treated to outstanding views of the lush jungle and countryside that surrounds this area.  You will be challenged with a small river crossing and rewarded with fantastic waterfalls!1-DSC00811

    You will end the day's ride by soaking in the thermal hot springs baths at the Nangulvi Hot Springs.  You will check into your simple, yet comfortable private cabin and have full access to the several pools kept at varying temperatures and filled with water from the volcanic spings which are said to have therapeutic qualities.  The tastefully decorated restaurant on the edge of the roaring Rio Intag is a great place to have dinner or perhaps a beer after a great ride.


    Day 2
    Nangulvi  - Cuicocha Lake- Cotocachi - Peguche Falls - Otavalo Market - Lake Mojanda - Inti-nan Museum -Quito

    136 miles / 219 km on 60% unpaved & cobblestone road  / 40% paved raod

    You will wake up listening to the roaring Rio Intag, birds chirping and the silence of the echoing mountains.   After a great breakfast, you will continue along the river, arriving in the town of Apuela.  Apuela is the home of the Intag coffee growers' association and this is a great place to pick up a bag of what is becoming one of the best quality coffees in the world.   

    You will climb in elevation, then descend, then climb again, achieving great views of 100+ foot cascading waterfalls and fragrances of pine, eucalyptus and something that smells like an artificial "rainforest fresh" airfreshner - only this is the real thing and so so much better!  You will arrive at the Cotacachi National Forest and the Cuicocha (guinea pig) lake - a crater lake of crystal blue water that is 600 feet deep!  You can have a look at the displays in the visitors' center which will give you some helpful information about the wildlife in the area.  

    From the Cuicocha lake, you will descend along paved roads into the town of Cotacachi - famous for its colonial architecture and skilled leather craftsmen.  If you want to get a good leather jacket, belt or wallet - this is the place to do it.  The prices are very attractive and the quality is second-to-none.

    The next stop is at the Peguche Falls.  When you get off the bike, you will hear the falls roaring in the background.  It is a short walk to the falls through eucalyptus groves and once you arrive at the magnificent falls, you will understand why this is a sacred place for the shamans of the indigenous people.

    Otavalo textiles are famous for their history and quality. The Otavaleños were skilled weavers even prior to the Incan rule. Then in the Spanish colonial days, after being granted land near present day Otavalo, Rodrigo de Salazar set up a weaving workshop that employed the already skilled weavers. Through technological advancements, the Otavalo weavers supplied textiles to most of Latin America.  Today the area has a number of wool mills and looms and produces high quality textiles.  A visit to the Indigenous market at the "Plaza de los Ponchos" in the center of Otavalo is a feast for your eyes and an opportunity to bring back some great gifts for your friends and family.


    You will become an expert at riding on cobblestone road after your visit to Lake Mojanda - a high-altitude lake (around 13,000 feet).  To get there, you will follow a road that was constructed hundreds of years ago of cobblestone.  Each stone has been carefully placed so that the road lasts several lifetimes with minimal maintenance.  These roads are still maintained the old-fashioned way - by replacing the rocks by hand.  Once at the top of this cobblestone road, you will be looking at the Fuya Fuya Volcano and the serene high altitude Mojanda Lake surrounded by highlands pampa and wild alpaca.

    You will have several more climate changes ahead of you as you ride through some unpaved farm roads crossing lush green patchwork of fields full of vegetables, roses, and pastures for lucky dairy cattle.  Be sure to stop in the charming little town of San José de Minas with its beautiful stone church and well-manicured central park.   The next part of the ride resembles the dry canyons of Arizona - you will ride down a dusty dry road and cross the Guayallabamba river.

    Then you will ride right into the  middle of the world  The Inti-ñan museum is situated right on the Equator.  Inti-ñan means "center of the world" in Quechua, the native language of Ecuador.   Take a tour of this magical site, a place that the indigenous peoples have revered for thousands of years.   Learn how the ancient people came to understand that this was the center of the world, centuries before "modern" geography or GPS devices.   Play with gravity here and perform some experiments to learn about the Coriolis effect caused by the Earth's rotation.  Get to know how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live and visit some typical homes.   

    Now,  just coast back to our offices in Quito to return the bike and tell us about your trip!


    Recommended Bikes and Pricing :

    • On a Honda XL200 or Suzuki DR200: $285
    • On a Suzuki DR650: $395
    • On a Kawasaki KLR650: $395
    • On a Husqvarna Terra TR650: $415
    • On a Suzuki V-Strom 650: $455
    • On a BMW G 650 GS: $475
    • On a Triumph Tiger 800XC: $545
    • On a BMW F800GS: $545
    • On a BMW R1150GS: $525
    • Passenger/Pillion fee: $85

    Prices Include:

    • Unlimited Mileage Motorcycle Rental
    • Gloves & Helmets 
    • Saddlebags or Luggage System
    • One night in the Nangulvi Hot Springs (private cabin)
    • One breakfast & One Dinner
    • Pre-programmed GPS with daily routes
    • Emergency kit including pre-paid cell phone, first aid kit, spare parts and tools

      Prices do not include:

    • Ecuador IVA sales tax (12%)  for Ecuadorian residents ONLY
    • Gasoline (budget about $10-$12)
    • Meals other than listed above  (budget about $10 per day)