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Guided Introduction to Ecuador Tour
"Introduction to Ecuador Tour" (12 days)
Ecuador is one of the most geographically, culturally, and biologically diverse countries in the world. Amazing landscapes encompassing rainforests,Andean mountain ranges, coastal ranges, deserts and tropical grasslands make this South American country a haven for astonishing wildlife, stunning panoramas as well as rich anthropological and cultural sites.
This tour will take you to all of the best that continental Ecuador has to offer on this absolutely unforgettable motorcycle adventure.
We will visit all of the major regions of continental Ecuador - the Andes, the Coast and the Amazon Basin. We will have time to explore the major cities of Quito, Loja, Manta, Esmeraldas and Cuenca, including many places declared "World Heritage Sites" by the United Nations. We'll visit the popular "gringo"hangouts such as Canoa, Vilcabamba, Otavalo and Baños. We will experience the various cuisines and cultures of Ecuador such as the creole cuisine in Esmeraldas, fresh coffee from plantations in Loja, fresh chocolate from the cacao plantations in Vinces, hearty soups of the Andean highlands, and steamed fish wrapped in Amazonian jungle leaves.
One of the things that sets a motorcycle trip apart from other types of tourism are the scents, fragrances and aromas that you can experience while riding - you can't experience these while travelling in a bus or car. Ecuador provides you with a feast for all your senses - you will pass through brilliant fields of multi-colored roses, see wild orchids in the rainforests, smell the eucalyptus and pine forests, ripening bananas, and ride through salty mist along the shore. You'll smell the fresh, wood-oven baked bread in colonial cities.
The tour will also take you off the beaten track to explore some of the wild areas of Ecuador. It is one of the most adventurous tours that you can do, giving you access to untouched wildlife and unforgettable insight into how native Ecuadorians have lived for centuries.
12 Days / 11 nights (10 riding days with two rest days)
Total Distance Covered: approximately 2,662 kilometers / 1,654 miles
Average distance per day : 266 kilometers / 165 miles (10 riding days)
99% asphalt road / 1% dirt, gravel or cobblestone roads
4-5 star hotel accomodations including unique luxury hacienda and boutique hotel accomodations
Single occupancy (your own private hotel room at no extra charge)
Experienced, multilingual, local resident tour guide
All inclusive pricing includes meals, gas, entrance fees, etc. No pulling out your wallet!
minimum particpants: 1 (guaranteed departure)
maximum riders: 9 (keeps things fun and easy!)
Pricing: Starting at $5250- please see the bottom of this page for pricing (which depends on the bike chosen).
Photos from a previous Introduction to Ecuador Tour November 2012 (with offroad options taken):
Quito - San José de Minas - Laguna Mojanda - Otavalo
Distance covered: 120 kms / 75 miles -- on 100% paved roads
You’ll begin your twelve day “Introduction to Ecuador Tour" from our shop located in Quito, Ecuador - 2850 meters (almost 2 miles above sea level) in the Andes Mountains. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador with about 1.5 million residents and has some of the best examples of Spanish colonial architecture in Latin America. Quito was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970's for having the best preserved and least altered historic centre in all of Latin America.
On the morning of the tour departure, you’ll be outfitted with the motorcycle of your choice, a helmet communication system as well as a thoughtful presentation that will answer all your questions concerning local customs, rules of the road, etc.
Our first stop is in the middle of the world. Inti-ñan means “path of the Sun” in the Quechua language and the Inti-ñan Museum is situated directly on the Equator. The indigenous peoples have revered this site for thousands of years and our group will learn how ancient people came to understand that this was the center of the world centuries before the advent of modern geography or GPS devices. During our first stop directly on the “red line” we will experiment with gravity, including witnessing how water drains either clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which side of the Equator we are standing. We also have the opportunity to see how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live when visiting their homes. This will enable us to better understand the cultures seen as we pass through various regions over the next few days. Departing the Inti-ñan Museum we officially leave the Quito metropolitan region and begin riding in the Northern Hemisphere.
The route for this first day has been purposefully chosen in order to acquaint you with a taste of the wide variety of different kinds of roads in Ecuador and to allow you the time to get acquainted with your bike. The fun starts with a newly paved road that dives deep into a dry river canyon. This is canyon carving" at its finest and you'll quickly see why Ecuador is a motorcycling paradise!
From the colonial town of San José de Minas with its manicured central plaza and towering church, we will climb in altitude on back roads giving us grand vistas of the serene farmlands and forests below. We will experience great aromas as we pass through eucalyptus and pine forests. We will stop to add a layer of clothing as we ride up to a height of over 12,000 feet (3714 meters) to view the majestic Mojanda Lake surrounded by the Fuya-Fuya volcano which guards the lake. This will be the first time we will be in the high-altitude paramo climate.
From there, we will ride down through the colonial city of Otavalo, famous for its expansive indigenous market. We will finish today's ride enjoying the local music and delicious local fare at the 300 year old Haciienda Pinsaqui - one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador where Simon Bolivar stayed on several occasions and famous as the site of the Pinsaqui Treaty which brought lasting peace with neighboring Colombia.
Otavalo - Cotacachi - Esmeraldas - Tonchigűe
Distance covered: 355 kilometers / 220 miles on 100 % paved roads
After a hearty breakfast of fresh juices, baked breads and eggs, we'll start the day by riding to the indigenous market in Otavalo. For hundreds of years, the indigenous people have brought their animals, crafts and produce down from the surrounding hills to sell in the market here. Don't worry - this market has very little to do with typical knick-knacks and tourist dollars. This is the real thing.
We'll witness the frenxy of the animal market - one of the most authentic experiences you'll find anywhere. We'll also have time to explore the Plaza de los Ponchos- a maze of hanging tapestries, weavings and handmade garments. A second animal section of the market deals with fowl, cuyes (guuinea pigs), rabbits, puppies and kittens..
We'll ride out of Otavalo and to the meticulously clean streets of the town of Cotacachi. Cotacachi is internationally known for its talented leather artisans. Many of the world's designer clothing brands manufacture their leather goods in this beautiful Andean city. You'll get a chance to acquire a belt, wallet or jacket here at very good prices. From here, we'll ride a series of beautiful ancient Incan cobblestone roads that are still maintained the old fashioned way. Don't worry - these roads have no traffic and the stones are very easy to ride on.
You'll then head off the beaten path, on a sinuous, recently paved highway that gradually descends from the Andean mountains, through farms of papaya, mango and other exotic fruits. You will have entered the lovely Pacific province of Esmeraldas.. You will pass through miles of giant coastal mangroves and witness more incredible biodiversity.
You will get a glimpse at the lively city of Esmeraldas, northern Ecuador's major port and coastal city. You can stop for lunch to try out some of the creole cuisine, unique to this part of Ecuador.
Once past Esmeraldas you will pass the thatched roofs of the festive beach town Atacames.
Keeping along the coast , you will end the day's ride at the Cumilinche Club. This French-owned resort has comfortable cabins and a private stretch of beach of unspoiled natural beauty. You will be able to go for a swim in the warm Pacific Ocean and explore the natural caves that surround the beach. You''ll partake in a gourmet Franco-Ecuadorian dinner.
In the morning, you will want to take a walk to admire some of the incredible birds, crabs and other coastal wildlife along this isolated and quiet empty stretch of coast.
Tonchigűe - Pedernales - Jama - Canoa
Distance covered: 290 Km / 180 miles on 100 % paved roads
You will start the day riding along miles of the Ecuadorian coast and past many shrimp farms and then through rolling hills of the tropical grasslands of the coastal lowlands. You will see that the preferred form of transport here is horseback. You will stop for lunch in the somewhat chaotic little city of Pedernales. Known as the capital city for shrimp harvesting and trade in Ecuador (the country's third most important export) here you can enjoy some of the great restaurants serving the freshest shrimp you will have ever tasted in your life!
You will continue your ride down the unspoiled coastline of empty, sandy beaches and into the warm, friendly fishing village of Jama. Then, you will head inland for a ride on some of the serene, undisturbed countryside of Manahi, passing cattle farms.
Then we'll head towards the sunset, and onto the warm, sandy beach of Canoa. Canoa is home to a mixed population of native fishermen, transient surfers and expatriate retirees who are seeking sun and relaxation. You will settle into the comfortable Canoa Beach Hotel and get ready for your day off from riding...
"Rest" Day in Canoa
Break Day! Relaxation and sunshine! Canoa has one of the best beaches on the Ecuadorian coast and is a very popular place for surfing (boards and lessons available from Canoa Thrills). You can rent a sea-kayak and explore the coastal caves. Other available activities include paragliding, whale watching, horseback riding or fishing.
Or, you can just pull up a chair at some of the great hang-outs, beachside bars and restaurants and enjoy a restful day away from the bike.
Distance covered: 381 km / 237 miles on 100% paved roads.
With a day of rest behind you, you will head south, crossing Ecuador's newest and longest bridge that spans the Bahia de Caraquez and brings you into the new and modern city of the same name. Montecristi isfamous for the fine straw hats they produce there - mistakenly known as a "Panama hat." You may be tempted to buy one of these hats, which can be folded into the size of a match case and carried with you on the motorcycle.
Then, you'll head into the fishing and seafaring city of Manta, famous for its bustling seafood market, excellent restaurants and one of the few places in the world that still build wooden boats by hand. Then, you'll head inland, passing through the town of Jipijapa and surrounding rice paddies, cattle ranches and coffee plantations.
Then we will ride through some of the most beautiful farmlands and countryside in rural Ecuador. With rolling hills, grand plains and friendly people we'll get to know this rarely visited hidden gem of Ecuador. We'll cross the Guayas river and enter a region that has become known as the producer of the world's best chocolate.
We'll end the ride outside the town of Vinces. Vinces was settled by French chocolatiers in the 19th century and still retains its French architectural heritage. The region is famous for producing the world's best chocolate, known as "arriba" chocolate. The chocolate is called "arriba" because when the first European chocolate makers came here, they noticed the locals were carrying some of the best smelling and delicious chocolate in their canoes. When asked where the chocolate came from, the locals replied "arriba" which meant up-river, where Vinces is located today. We'll spend the night on a chocolate and banana plantation. in the unique Senor de los Caballos Resort. We'll get a chance to learn how teakwood, chocolate and bananas are grown and cultivated from the manager of the plantation.
Vinces - Machala - Paccha - Zaruma
Distance Covered: 345 Km / 214 miles on 98% asphalt road / 2% unpaved road
More adventures ahead! You will head across the great plains with plenty of fishing birds and rice paddies. We'll cross through the Churute mangrove national wildlife area - known for its beautiful mangroves and alligators.
You'll see the agriculture and landscape change as you enter El Oro Province. The smell of ripening bananas and cacao plantations will fill your senses. You will have a quick ride through the coastal city of Machala, known for being the "Banana Capital of the World" - where a large portion of Ecuador's banana trade and market activities occur.
Onward, you will then head back inland, through mangroves and farmlands and into the hills that were once one of the wealthiest regions of the Spanish Empire. The Canari Indians died here, deep in the gold tunnels of Ecuador's Andes. First the Incas, then the Conquistadores, working the Indians till they dropped. It is a rugged yet strikingly beautiful region of Ecuador, known as the gold province.
We'll spend the night in the gold mining town of Zaruma. Zaruma was founded in 1549 and still boasts some of the finest examples of early colonial Spanish architecture in all of South America. Zaruma is also known for having the most beautiful women in Ecuador. You will find a nice, cozy room at the Roland Hotel.
Zaruma - Portovelo - Piñas - Vilcabamba
Distance Covered: 242 km / 150 miles on 100% paved roads
Heading out from Zaruma, we'llstop in Portovelo to visit the gold mines there, some of the world's biggest and most productive. We will visit the mine by riding one of the carts used to transport the raw ore.
Then, as you head back on your bike we ride changing landscapes on rural, mountainous backroads through dense forest. You will pass through the town of Pinas, known for its beautiful orchids.
We will 'll climb in elevation once again, riding through the picturesque Spanish colonial towns of El Cisne, with its magnificent cathedral and the charming town of Catamayo. This road has non-stop curves. We have tried to count them but each time we try we lose count. It must be in the thousands! This is where you'll want to make sure you don't scrape off the ends of your footpegs.
We will finish today's ride in the peaceful, hippy-mecca town of Vilcabamba in what is known as the "Valley of Longevity" because the population here is known to live very long lives. With lush green scenery, a mild year-round climate, and fresh mountain air, it is no wonder that Vilcabamba has been a popular vacation spot for hundreds of years. Once a retreat for Inca royalty, foreigners discovered Vilcabamba in the 1970s after a series of articles were published including one in "National Geographic" that highlighted the long lives of the locals.
Since then the area has been known as the Valley of Longevity and has turned into one of the most popular destinations in Ecuador. Because most people come to Vilcabamba to relax, the town has managed to keep its small town appeal with only a cluster of small restaurants and internet cafes surrounding the sleepy town square. The tranquil atmosphere, perfect weather, and an endless array of outdoor activities has combined to create a place where people often come for a weekend and end up staying a month.
We check into the comfortable award-winning (Best Hotel and Spa in Ecuador) Madre Tierra Eco Resort- a very well-managed, American owned and operated hotel and spa with beautiful grounds and spectacular pool. The rooms are very comfortable and the swimming pool is beautiful. They also offer great massages and spa treatments if you would like to un-do some of the effects of riding.
Distance Covered: 250 km / 155 miles on 100% paved road
Today's ride is going to be in high altitudes so you will want to add an additional layer of clothing.
We head north on the Panamerican highway and experience some of the beautiful high altitude vistas below the dark blue sky that are found only when above 10,000 feet. We ride through the gorgeous colonial city of Loja, full of Universities, cafés and plazas with street musicians. Then we continue north along one of the most scenic stretches of the Panamerican highway, with tremedous views and exhilirating curves and climbs.
Once in the indigenous town of Saraguro, we stop and take a stroll through the famous market there. The Saraguro are a unique ethnic group who were brought to Ecuador from Bolivia by the Incas to work on the Royal Road. Their distinct dress sets them apart and makes them a proud, productive people.
After a hearty lunch you are back on the bike, with breathtaking scenery fighting for your attention as you keep your eyes on the curves and swoops. You will climb to over 11,500 feet at the Tinajilla Pass as you cross the high altitude pampa. Keep a careful eye out for wild llama and try to capture them with your camera.
On today's ride you will roll into Ecuador's third largest city and arguably its most charming -the city of Cuenca. Cuenca is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site as its historic centre is a well-preserved example of Spanish Colonial architecture. You will be staying in the luxury colonial Casa del Agula Hotel -right in the historic center of this beautiful city.
Cuenca - Alausi - Chimborazo Volcano - Baños
408 km/ 253 miles on 100% paved road
This is a long riding day, so we get up early in the morning and get on the road after a great buffet breakfast. We head out on the Panamerican highway towards the north, first passing through dense pine and eucalyptus forests. The scent of these forests will be something that will stay with you long after the ride. We continue on these mountain roads, passing through high altitude paramo and crossing chilly high altitude mountain passes at 11,000+ feet. After some breathtaking views, we turn right onto a road that takes us through scenic farmlands and was once part of the Incan trail during the reign of the Incan empire. The people along this road still use centuries-old farming techniques. It is defintely a ride through the past.
The road takes us to the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador - Ingapirca. Otherwise known as Ecuador's "Macchu Picchu" - you can visit the ruins of this Incan Solar temple and marvel at their advanced irrigation techniques.
Then,we arrive in the Andean town of Alausi, which is known for its warm and welcoming indigenous population who wear brilliantly colored clothes. The town is also known for its architecture. The town has a very active market and some great restaurants serving fresh trout, locally grown produce and other regional specialties. This is a good place for lunch.
We continue up the Panamerican highway, and climb to 4,500 meters (14,500 feet). The route will go around the Chimborazo Mountain (6268 meters – nearly 4 miles high - the highest peak in Ecuador) and through the Palmira Desert, the largest and fastest growing desert in Ecuador. It will pass through the Chimborazo National Wildlife refuge where you will see will many wild guinea pigs, hunting birds such as the condor and wild vicuña, a relative of the camel and llama that run wild here. This area will make you feel like you are on another planet.
We ride through the outskirts of Ecuador's fourth largest city, Ambato, and head through lush farmlands and valleys, dorpping to an elevation of 5,000 feet inthe adventure tourism mecca of"Banos de Agua Santa", famous for its health-giving thermal springs. The town is set in the shadow of the mighty Tungarahua Volcano, which is a very active volcano that occasionally erupts with pyroclastic emissions and thick ash. Banos is located in what is known as "magnetic vortex," a unique place where the planet's 4 essential life elements - Air, Earth, Water, and Fire - are found. You will check into the Posada del Arte Hotel and enjoy access to the great restaurants, hot springs and activities that Banos has to offer.
¨Rest¨ Day in Baños
Today is another chance for some additional great adventures! Baños is one of the world's best centers for adventure and extreme sports. With so many inexpensive, experienced guides and tours available, we strongly encourage you to take full advantage of them in order to experience the incredible natural beauty that surrounds this town.
You can go for a day of rafting or kayaking on some world-class rapids, do some bungee jumps, go canyoning (rapelling down waterfalls), take a jungle tour, ride down a volcano on a mountain bike or improve your rock-climbing skills. If none of those activities appeal to you, Baños has some great hangouts, restaurants and bars and and an exciting nightlife, too.
This is the perfect spot for a rewarding rest day no matter what you choose to do.
Banos - Puyo - Cotococha Amazon Lodge
82 miles / 132 km on 100% paved road
You can feel free linger a little longer than normal this morning, taking another volcanic bath and enjoying a full breakfast at the La Floresta hotel before we get back on the road. We leave Banos and head eastward - riding down what is known as the "Route of the Waterfalls" through the eastern slopes which will eventually descend into the Amazon River Basin.
You will see the vegetation change dramatically as you descend along the eastern slopes of the Andes into the Amazon rainforest. The air will become warm as we arrive in Puyo - we are now officially in "Amazonia". Wer take the rolling hills of highway 45 north, with great views of the Sierra to your left.
We turn onto a road that follows the Napo River, and go deeper into the Amazon jungle and arrive at theCotococha Amazon Lodge and check into our riverside bungalows for the night. Each bungalow is built according to traditional architecture in harmony with the surrounding rainforest. All bungalows are equipped with a private bathroom, a private veranda with reclining chairs or hammocks in which to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of Ecuador's Amazon.
Afterwards we enjoy a special welcome drink, relaxing around the elegant fireplace, to coordinate and discuss the next day’s activities with the local crew. This is a very special place set in a peaceful setting filled with the sounds of the Amazon jungle. You'll sleep well tonight as the Napo River purrs in the background.
Cotococha - Puerto Misahualli - Tena - Quito
225 km / 140 miles on 100% paved road
After another healthy breakfast at Cotococha, wel board a motirized canoe to take a ride up the Napo River. A native guide will hike with us through the Amazon jungle, giving expert explanations of the the wildlife, insects, flowers and vegetation that grows there as well as explain their tradional and medicinal uses . We finish the short hike with a refreshing swim in a clear waterfall and beautiful lagoon. Then, we tranquilly float back to the lodge on innertubes, pack up the bike to continue you ride along the Napo River.
We cross a narrow wire bridge into the town of Misahualli. This is a port city - the beginning of the navigable parts of the Amazon basin. From here you could take a boat to the Atlantic. The town is a lot of fun because of their mischievous monkey population which loves the attention of visitors and teasing the local dogs. Bring your camera. We will have a lunch here with the monkeys!
Then, we back westward on the other side of the Napo river, and through the kayaking capital of the Americas, Tena. From Tena, we ride along the edge of the Amazon jungle with dense vegetation all around. We start our ascent into the eastern slopes once again as we pass through the rainforest town of Baeza. Here you will want to add some additional layers of clothing for the chilly air that you will face as you climb to over 13,400 feet. With fantastic views of the city below, you will coast into Quito with memories of the past twelve days that will last a lifetime
Pre-tour 35% discount on high quality riding gear from !
You do NOT have to pull out your wallet on our guided tours!
Prices do not include:
Refundable security deposit to cover any damage to the rental motorcycle
Dinner and lunch on rest days
Optional activities on rest days
Ecuador IVA tax (12%) FOR ECUADOR RESIDENTS ONLY
NO TAX FOR TOURISTS TO ECUADOR!
Hotel accomodations before and after the tour in Quito.
tips and gratuities for your guide
Sign up one additional rider - get $200 off your price!
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Now - Book Your Adventure!
Have a look at our tour calendar to see what dates work for you. Then, just contact us and let us know which tour and which bike you are interested in. You can also just press this button and fill out the form and we'll respond as quickly as possible:
We'll get back to you usually within a day (sometimes we are out guiding tours and may take 2 days to respond at most). If you don't see a date that fits your schedule, just ask and we'll see what we can do.
"Ok, if I could give this trip 6 stars I would.... My wife and I did the "Introduction to Ecuador" tour two-up on a Triumph 800 XC. When we first looked at booking the trip, we were a bit concerned that my wife might not enjoy riding on the back of a bike for 12 days. We both knew I would enjoy it because well... I'd be riding a motorcycle around Ecuador. I love riding motorcycles and I love seeing new places so we knew I couldn't help but enjoy it. Anyway, we were both absolutely blown away.
Sylvain led the tour and I don't think he could have done anything more to accommodate us and make sure we enjoyed ourselves. The hotels and the food were both excellent. He even made an extra stop at a botanical garden because he knew my wife liked flowers. It was a very nice gesture.
The scenery in Ecuador is so spectacular that you almost become immune to the beauty of the sights. It almost becomes ordinary until you go around the next corner and once again become stunned by what you see. We fell in love with Ecuador.
I would recommend this tour to anyone and I hope to someday go back. If you like to ride motorcycles, this trip should be near the top of your bucket list. If you have a chance to go... do it!
Thanks Sylvain and Court for a spectacular vacation!" - Ty Jaster, Lethbridge, Canada
"Just got back from the 12 day Introduction to Ecuador tour. What a diverse place! Where else can you see high altitude snow capped mountains, Amazon jungle and beautiful coastline? In my opinion the best and ONLY way to see all of Ecuador is by motorcycle. You would miss so much by driving in a car or riding on a tour bus. And you don't need a bike bigger than 650cc to easily get around.
The trip was well planned and just kept getting better and better each day. Each place we saw had it's own charm and excitement and the food was excellent. Surprisingly the best meal prepared for us was at the lodge in the Amazon. Or maybe it was the seafood on the coast. Hmmmm. Sylvain was our easy going guide and did everything to keep us all happy.
If you like to ride motorcycles then all I have to say is 2.5 straight days of well paved, low traffic, twisty mountain roads with the longest stretch of straight being 200 yards. Never thought I'd get tired of twisty roads, but on the third day I honestly was looking to relax while riding.
Overall a great time and a trip that will be remembered forever. I would come back to Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental in a heartbeat." -Jon Toporowski, Oregon USA