This tour is all about showing you the best parts of Ecuador in just 10 days. The tour combines a wide variety of roads and is meant for intermediate to more advanced riders.
The tour will bring you through remote areas of Ecuador, allowing you to see unspoiled wildlife and to experience the culture of the rural indigenous Ecuadorians and to discover how subsistence farmers have lived here for centuries. We will visit areas of Ecuador that most visitors do not get to see.
The goal of the tour is not only to provide an excellent ride but to also enjoy the incredible outdoor activities and things to see in Ecuador. We will visit a butterfly zoo, go on a boat ride in a crater lake, visit indigenous markets and art galleries, swim in the warm Pacific ocean, and have opportunites for kayaking, white water rafting, whale watching, rock climbing, rappelling and numerous other first-class outdoor adventure activities. We will also have some extra time to share some relaxing laughs, a cold beer, and local stories with Ecuadorians and other compatriot adventurers along the way.
The "10 Best Days in Ecuador" Tour was featured in the May 2012 Edition of Rider Magazine
10 Days / 9 nights (with two rest days)
Total Distance Covered: approximately 1,121 miles / 1804 kilometers
Average distance per day : 140 miles / 225 km on eight riding days (2 rest/activity days)
70% asphalt road / 30% dirt, gravel or cobblestone roads
Avoids the major highways and throughways of Ecuador - only the most scenic and safest routes are taken.
3-5 star hotel accomodations including unique luxury hacienda and boutique hotel accomodations
Single occupancy (your own private hotel room)
Experienced, LOCAL RESIDENT multilingual tour guide (you will be shown an insider's view of the country).
Longest running motorcycle tour of Ecuador.
All 100% inclusive price including all meals, gasoline and entrance fees to parks and attractions.
Chase vehicle (for groups of 5+ rider)s.
minimum particpants: 1 (guaranteed departure)
maximum participants: 8 (keeps things fun and easy)
Quito-Inti'ñan-San José de Minas-Laguna de Mojanda-Peguche-Otavalo
Distance Covered: 94 miles (60 miles offroad) / 151 km (96 km offroad)
You’ll begin your "10 Best Days in Ecuador" Tour from our shop located in Quito, Ecuador - 2850 meters (almost 2 miles above sea level) in the Andes Mountains, on the Equator, in South America. Quito was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970's for having the best preserved and least altered historic center in all of Latin America. We suggest you arrive a day or two early to experience this amazing town and to get used to the altitude before your ride.
On the morning of the tour departure you’ll be outfitted with the motorcycle of your choice and given a thoughtful presentation that will answer all your questions concerning local customs, rules of the road, riding signals, etc.
The first day's ride is intended to give you a sampling of the different types of roads we will be riding. We will have a chance to ride on asphalt, dry gravel, cobblestone and dirt farm roads.
Our first stop will be in the middle of the world. The Inti-ñan museum is situated right on the Equator. Inti-ñan means "center of the world" in Quechua, a native language of Ecuador. We will take a tour of this magical site, a place that the indigenous peoples have revered for thousands of years. We will learn how the ancient people came to understand that this was the center of the world, centuries before "modern" geography or GPS devices. We will play with gravity here and perform some experiments to learn about the Coriolis effect caused by the Earth's rotation. We will also get to know how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live and visit some typical homes. This tour will give you some excellent background information on Ecuador so that you will better understand the cultures as we pass through various regions of Ecuador.
After the visit at the Inti-ñan museum, we will be riding in the Northern Hemisphere. We will first pass through a dry desert canyon on a dusty dirt road that will bring us into a deep canyon. We will then ride out of the canyon into lush green patchwork of fields of vegetables, roses and dairy cattle. We'll stop in the charming little town of San José de Minas with its beautiful stone church and well-manicured central park.
From San José de Minas we will climb in altitude on spectacular dirt 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 mountain 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 can stop here to view the various crafts, textiles and other unique colorful items for sale here.
We will finish today's ride along the calming shores of Lake San Pablo and settle in for the night in a private lakeside cabin at the Hosteria Cabanas del Lago.
Distance Covered: 151 miles (~130 miles offroad) / 244 km (~210 km offroad)
After a full American buffet breakfast on the shore of Lake San Pablo we will first stop to visit the animal market in Otavalo. Here, local farmers bring livestock into an open market every Saturday morning. They offer baby ducklings, geese, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, oxen, sheep and just about any other farm animal you can dream of. After the market, we will get back on the bikes and head to the town of Cotacachi, just north of Otavalo. Cotacachi is known for its leather artisans. We will stop briefly at the market in the center of town - this is a great opportunity to get a new belt, wallet or even leather jacket at fantastic prices.
From Cotacachi we will ride through some picturesque small towns and stop to visit the Cuicocha Lake. This lake, which is in fact a crater, lies at the foot of the extinct Cotacachi Volcano (16,300 feet or 4968 meters). The volcano's eruptions in the past created the lake and produced the minerals that make the surrounding valley one of the most productive agricultural regions in the Andes.
We'll be riding on dirt roads with very little traffic through this area of Ecuador known as one of the most undeveloped and most biologically diverse in the country . We will have incredible views of farmlands and natural forests. We will pass through remote villages that are rarely visited by outsiders.
We will descend into the scenic region of the Intag river. This area is becoming famous for its outstanding coffee, thanks to the organization of a local coffee growers association. The Intag farmers use the large leaves of other plants like bananas, naranjilla and guayaba to give a natural shade to the coffee bushes. These other crops also provide the farmer his own food and gives him his independence.
We will stop in the friendly town of Apuela and have a full Ecuadorian lunch. We will buy some of the fresh, locally-grown Rio Intag coffee and brew a cup and enjoy the freshest coffee of your life before we get back on the bikes.
After lunch we will continue to descend into the Intag valley and stop for a swim in the warm thermal waters at the Nangulvi thermal baths. After a refreshing swim we will continue to ride arriving on the Western Slopes. Here we will experience the cloudforest. This area of Ecuador is known for its abundant wildlife and bird species.
We will arrive in the town of Mindo, known for its natural surroundings and fun atmosphere. Here we will visit the "Mariposario" or butterfly museum, with over 1200 of some of the most incredible species of living butterflies on display. If you prefer chocolate to butterflies we could also visit the Quetzal to learn about organic chocolate growing and how cacoa is turned into chocolate. After this full day, we will check into the cozy Hotel Caskafessu for the night.
Mindo - La Concordia - Pedernales - Jama - Canoa
293 km / 182 miles on 80% asphalt road 20% unimproved dirt road
We will head out of Mindo, climbing first in elevation and then once back on Route 25, you will start your descent along Ecuador's western slope. It may be a bit foggy as we pass through the cloudforest and descend into the tropical rainforests. From San Miguel de Los Bancos we will continue the long, gradual descent towards the coast. You will feel the temperature of the air around you begin to rise as you roll down the curves, crossing some roaring rivers and breathtaking views to the left and right all the way.
Watch, and you will begin to see palm trees and more "junglesque" growth along the road. The leaves of the plants will grow in size. We will pass through Esmeraldas province and once in Manabi province, you will begin to see that horses are a more common mode of transport than cars and buses as we head into the tropical grasslands.
We will pass quickly through La Concordia, a commercial city and a trading center for the area's biggest crop - palm oil. The shaded palm groves that surround this city are magical.
After a ride through the rolling coastal savannah grasslands, we will arrive at the coast in the city of Pedernales, sometimes referred to as the "Wild Wild West" because of its chaotic markets, plentiful restaurants, nightclubs, and fun-loving residents. This is the closest beach to Quito and has a festive atmosphere. This is also Ecuador's shrimp farming capital and we we be sure to have a shrimp lunch here at one of the oceanside restaurants. It will be probably the freshest and most delicious shrimp you will ever have in your life. There are also other great Ecuadorian seafood specialties such as Ceviche and fish chowders that you can try that will knock your socks off.
Once we leave Pedernales, we will be riding along the coastal road, passing by several natural, wild and undeveloped beaches and shrimp farms. We will pass through the quiet town of Jama - a throwback to a simpler time, where the tides and fishermen set the pace.
In Jama, we will head inland to experience the calm beauty of Manabi Province farmland. We will ride on some unimproved dirt farming roads and we will cross the deep Jama river without a bridge.
You will finish today's ride in the town of Canoa. Canoa is home to a mixed population of native fishemen, transient surfers and expatriate retirees who are seeking sun and relaxation. We strongly recommend taking an extra rest day here in Canoa. Our carefully selected accomodations are at Baloo right on the beach and with a great atmosphere thanks to its friendly helpful and fun staff.
"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.
Canoa - Bahia de Caraquez - Montecristi - Manta - Puerto de Cayo
131 miles on mostly asphalt road / 212 km
You’ll head south today along the seacoast. You’ll cross the brand new Bahia de Caraquez bridge and pass through several small fishing villages and rice paddies. The seafood in this area is amazing and the cuisine in Manabi, especially, is considered among the best in Ecuador.
In the town of Montecristi you can visit a coffee factory and might also be tempted to buy a “Montecristi” – also known as the original Panama hat. In the late 1970’s President Nixon received a Montecristi hat folded neatly into a matchbox sized container.
We will have a stop in Santa Marianita to watch kitesurfers practicing their sport before continuing along the coast. Great vistas of the coastline!
We will end the day's ride in the fishing and beach town of Puerto Cayo which is within the Machalilla National Park, made up of tropical dry forest, fog forest, coastal scrub, beaches, islands and islets as well as ocean. The ocean that is contained in the park contains a coral reef. The park protects nearly a third of the coastal fisheries in the country. We will have an outstanding seafood feast in the town of Puerto Cayo then stay at the luxurious Sancutary Puerto Cayo Lodge for a tranquil evening on the one of Ecuador's most beautiful beaches.
Puerto de Cayo - Santa Ana -Colimes - Balzar - Quevedo
155 miles (75 miles unimproved dirt road) / 250 km (121 km unimproved dirt road)
Today you’ll begin to head away from the coast, passing through many cacao, rice and cattle farms along rolling hills on dirt roads through rural parts of Ecuador rarely visited by outsiders.
We will pass through the friendly town of Santa Ana and through the tranquil countryside of Los Rios and Guayas Provinces.
You’ll also participate in a unique Ecuadorian experience - crossing a river using a “canoe ferry” – a hand-made ferry with no engine. You’ll be asked to help pull the ferry to the other side of the river! This part of the country is full of fishing birds of all types and a natural forest kept intact by the locals, where hundreds of South American squirrels live in the wild. You will definitely hear and (if you are lucky) get a glimpse of the famous howling monkey.
You’ll spend the night at the 4-star Olimpico Hotel in the city of Quevedo. Quevedo was the first Chinese settlement community in Ecuador and many of the Chinese restaurants (called "Chifa" in Ecuador) date back to the 1920’'s. We will have a great Ecuadorian Chinese meal at the best Chifa in Quevedo, the Restaurante Jade.
Quevedo - El Corazon - Salinas de Guaranda - Chimborazo - Riobamba - Banos
`158 miles (90 miles on unimproved roads) / 255 km (145 km on unimproved roads)
Up early today! Your ride today will be the most challenging of this “10 Best Days in Ecuador Tour." Adding to the challenging dirt roads, there will be lots of altitude, temperature and climatic changes throughout the day. You’ll proceed from a warm, tropical zone at near sea level and climb to 4,400 meters (14,500 feet) and then back down to 1900 meters in the bustling adventure tourism of Banos. 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. We will pass through the Chimborazo National Wildlife refuge where we will see will many wild guinea pigs, hunting birds and llamas.
You’ll pass through many towns that time has forgotten, including the town of Facunda Vela where time seems to have stopped about a hundred years ago. You’ll see many other indigenous settlements with almost no modern technology, where farming is still being performed using traditional methods. You’ll spend the night in the city of Banos de Agua Santa famous for its health giving thermal springs. Your hotel tonight will be the Hotel Floresta.
"Rest" Day in Banos
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, hike some magnificent trails, rent an ATV, 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.
120 miles (40 miles on cobblestone and unimproved roads)
You’ll bike today from Banos along some old cobblestone and dirt roads through the small farming town of Patate and along a dirt road overlooking the city of Ambato. The ride will continue on the astounding “Avenue of the Volcanoes" where you will be surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes. Along the way you’ll travel through the indigenous town of Pujilli where we can stop to see the market in the center of town. We will stop in Tigua, famous for their indigenous artists, and visit an art gallery.
We will continue on the famous road known as the Quilotoa Loop and to the Quilotoa crater lake with its unusual green color made possible by minerals left behind the volcanic eruption that created it.
We will end the night in the family-owned Mama Hilda Hostel in Chugchilan. We will enjoy a family style Ecuadorian dinner with pots and pots of great, filling food and then crash in a wood-stove heated room for the night in the mountains.
After a hearty Mama Hilda's breakfast we will head back on to the Quilotoa Loop and into the colonial town of Sigchos, an indigenous settlement that became a Spanish town in the 1500's. We will then head back up to an altitude of about 13,000 feet and then start a long descent along beautiful, unpaved roads through extremely remote villages. We will arrive at an elevation of about 2,000 feet and stop for a swim in a deep swimming hole with warm waters formed by waterfalls.
Then we will head back up to Quito, entering the city from dirt roads, avoiding the suburban sprawl and return to our offices in the Mariscal for a celebration...