Cloudforests, Coast, and Craters Tour
A 7-Day Guided Motorcycle Adventure
Distance: 1,237 kilometers / 769 miles 75% paved road / 25% unpaved road
Lowest Elevation: 0 meters | 0 feet
Highest Elevation: 4445 meters | 14,583 feet
Elevation Gain / Loss: 14,350 meters | 47,080 feet
Time Needed: 7 days / 6 nights (add a day before and after the tour for a total of 9 days)
Climates: Cloudforest, Tropical Rainforest, Tropical Grasslands, Desert, Highlands Pampa, Dry Forest
Recommended Gear: Raingear, camera, waterproof saddlebags, suntan lotion, insect repellent, sunglasses, summer and winter weight gloves.
All-inclusive pricing includes all meals, gas and entrance fees. You won't have to pull out your waller...
This tour is a combination of our most popular tours and will take you on some of the best roads and to the best sights in Ecuador. You will pass through several climatic zones, including the cloudforests, coastal savannah, beach, desert, and the rainforest on the eastern and western slopes. You will ride through some of the most bio-diverse parts of the world, seeing rural parts of Ecuador that few visitors get to see. Experience warm sandy beaches and volcanic spring baths. Plus a variety of foods and cuisines along the way!
Distance Covered: 64 miles / 103 km on paved road (unpaved 10 miles optional)
You'll begin this 7-day / 6 night “Cloudforest, Coast & Craters” tour from our shop in Quito, Ecuador. In 1978, Quito became the first place on the planet to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having the best-preserved historic center in all of Latin America. Quito is high on the Antiplano Plateau (the second highest in the world) in the Andes at 9,350 feet. We suggest that you arrive a day or two early to experience our magnificent capital city while getting acclimated to high altitude before beginning the tour.
During the first morning of the tour you’ll be outfitted with the motorcycle of your choice and given a thorough orientation answering all questions concerning local customs, rules of the road, riding signals, Ecuadorian driver courtesies, and more. The first day’s ride purposefully includes a sampling of the different types of roads that will be ridden. You will have the opportunity to safely become accustomed to asphalt, dry gravel, cobblestone, and dirt farm roads.
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” you will experiment with gravity, including witnessing how water drains either clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which side of the Equator you are standing. You will also have the opportunity to see how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live by visiting models of their homes. This will enable you to better understand the cultures and ways of life that you will experience as we pass through the various regions.
Departing the Inti-ñan Museum, we are now officially outside of the Quito metropolitan region, and have begun riding in the Northern Hemisphere. Our second stop is to view the beautiful Pululahua Crater Geo-Botanical Reserve, a crater formed by a volcanic eruption 2,500 years ago. From there, head onto the western slopes of the Andes that are full of dense, green forests and steep mountains. The roads have been recently paved and riding these sharp curves is certain to be exhilarating fun.
We will have lunch in the garden of a fantastic restaurant in the heart of the cloudforest. We'll watch in amazement as hundreds of colorful birds surround us as we enjoy our first Ecuadorian meal together.
Changing the pace a little bit, we take a left turn off the main highway and venture onto an unpaved, unmarked road that leads even deeper into the cloudforest. Here, at the world-famous Bellavista Cloudforest Bird Lodge, we take a break on their amazing patio and watch hundreds of hummingbirds flitting around us. These are all of a completely different species than the birds seen at lunch. There is no other place on earth where so many species of birds can be viewed. Note that the unpaved section is optional - we can continue along the newly paved highway all the way to Mindo if you are not comfortable riding on unpaved roads.
Continue through the lush cloudforest along clear streams with cascading waterfalls to the funky, eclectic town of Mindo. Mindo is situated in a warm microclimate cloudforest that’s known for its natural beauty and great restaurants. We will visit the El Quetzal chocolate factory for a tour that entertains while educating about the farming and processing of organic cocoa and how it is turned into chocolate and formed into bars. You will want to sample this chocolate, as Ecuador produces some of the best chocolate in the world.
After our visit to the The Quetzal , we check into the carefully selected accommodations for the night deep in the cloudforest setting at the charmingly luxurious Septimo Paraiso Resort, winner of the 2016 "Best Cloudforest Lodge" by Luxury Travel Guide.
Mindo - Laguna Azul - Pedernales - Jama - Canoa
295 km / 183 miles on 100% asphalt road
After a hearty breakfast, hop on your bike, and we will head out of the Septimo Paraiso Cloudforest Reseve. We first climb in elevation and then begin to descend along the western slope of the Andes. Expect fog as we pass through the cloudforest and down into tropical rainforest. From San Miguel de Los Bancos, we continue a long, gradual descent towards the Pacific coast. The temperature begins to rise as we decrease our altitude, rolling through sweeping corners, crossing roaring rivers, and experiencing breathtaking views along the way.
Palm trees appear and the leaves of “junglesque growth” along the road grow in size the farther west we travel. Crossing the coastal savannah of Manabi Province we notice that horses are a more common mode of transportation than cars or buses.
We stop to take a short hike into the rainforest for a swim in one of the most beautiful swimming holes in Ecuador - the Blue Lagoon (laguna azul) with its serene, deep, warm water and cascading waterfall.
After your swim, we will cross over a wire suspension bridge (photo above) that will take us to an island in the Caony River for a wonderful lunch stop in a beautiful rainforest setting.
La Concordia is a commercial city and trading center for the area’s biggest crop: palm oil. The palm groves that surround this city appear almost magical.
On the Pacific coast the city of Pedernales - sometimes referred to as the "Wild Wild West" -- is known for it’s chaotic markets, plentiful restaurants, nightclubs, and fun-loving residents. The closest beach to Quito, this resort town is Ecuador’s shrimp capital and naturally we will stop at one of the ocean-side restaurants for a taste. Expect to enjoy the freshest and most delicious shrimp you’ve eaten in your life.
From Pedernales we ride south along the coastal road, passing wild, 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.
Our day ends in the town of Canoa. This is home to a mixed population of native fishermen, transient surfers, and expatriate retirees who are seeking sun and relaxation. Our carefully selected accomodations are at the Canoa Beach Hotel, right on the beach and with a great atmosphere thanks to its friendly helpful and fun staff.
Day 3: Canoa - Bahia de Caraquez - Quevedo
183 kilometers / 114 miles on 95% asphalt road
Enjoy a last swim on the beautiful beach in Canoa and a filling breakfast. Our morning ride will continue down the coastal road also known as "Ruta del Sol." After crossing the Bahia de Caraquez and through the city of the same name, we’ll begin to climb on high cliffs that overlook the beautiful Chone River and the mangroves of El Corazon Island.
We'll cross through catle farms, rice paddies, cacao plantations and through the towns of Calceta, Quiroga and Tosagua. Here we will see many of the majestic Ceibo Trees. These trees were fabled by the ancient people to be the Earth's ties to the spiritual world. Since the only place they grow in the world is along the equatorial belt, their bare branches were thought to be roots that kept the world attached to heaven. They flower only once every five years and can store thousands of liters of water in their huge trunks.
We'll cross over a bridge over the serene Santa Teresa reservoir, full of fishing birds. Then we'll pass through a dense rainforest full of twists and curves and small farms growing exotic fruits and coffee.
This part of the country is full of South American squirrels that live in the wild. You will definitely hear - and may be lucky - to glimpse the famous howling monkey.
The population in this area of Ecuador make their living from agriculture, mostly rice, cacao plantations, and cattle. We will spend the night at the Olimpico Hotel in the city of Quevedo. Quevedo was the first Chinese settlement community in Ecuador and many of the Chinese restaurants date back to the 1920’'s. We will have a Chinese feast at the best Ecuadorian-Chinese cuisine in the world.
Quevedo - Facundo Vela - Salinas de Guaranda
127 kilometers / 79 miles on 50% asphalt / 50% unimproved dirt roads
Today's ride may not be very many kilometers long but will be somewhat challenging as it include unimproved dirt and gravel roads. We will start the ride leaving the bustling city of Quevedo through miles of palm tree, cacao and banana plantations. The fragrances of ripening bananas and cacao beans roasting in the sun will waft through your helmet. We will climb in elevation on spectacular country roads, arriving in the small town of El Corazon - where they brew and bottle their own unique brand of moonshine - a flavored alcohol that is quite good, yet inexpensive. El Corazon is a very friendly town and a good place to stop for lunch.
From El Corazon you will again face some challenging dirt roads that wind through thick jungles and arrive in the colorful, isolated village of Facundo Vela, a place that seems like it hasn't changed much in the past 100 years. The town is usually full of horses with not a single car to be seen. You may feel as though you have ridden into a time warp - and it is now 1917...
Taking the dirt road out of Facundo Vela we will continue to ride and gain altitude on a series of switchback cobblestone trails. The air through this section of cloudforest is scented with wild orchids and tropical plants and will get cooler and cooler as we continue the climb. In this part of Ecuador, farming is still done without modern machinery. You'll see plenty of oxen, horses, alpaca and donkeys. The indigenous inhabitants wear colorful, traditional dress and enjoy a simple life here. They are usually pretty surprised to see foreigners come through their villages.
You'll cross a high mountain pass at around 13,400 feet before arriving in the village of Salinas de Guaranda. This town is unique in Ecuador as it has a Swiss heritage. Here they make chocolate and cheese in the Swiss tradition and we will have a dinner consisting primarily of the local cheese at a local restaurant. At the La Minga Guesthouse you can warm yourself at the wood stove and get a good night sleep in a room overlooking the village.
Day 5: Salinas de Guaranda - Chimborazo - Riobamba - Baños
171 kilometers / 106 miles on 98% asphalt road
You will wake up in the high altitude "Swiss" village of Salinas - you should have some additional layers ready for today's ride - you will be riding through some extreme temperature and climate changes - so be prepared.
After a hearty breakfast we will get a tour of this special town. We'll see how the locals bring in their fresh milk on alpacas, donkeys and horseback to the cooperative cheese factory. We will learn how they turn this milk into Gruyere, Parmesan, Swiss and Gouda cheese. Then we will see the yarn mill where they shear the sheep and alpaca and run the raw woold through `100 year-old machines that are hand-me-downs from the closed mills of New England in the USA. We'll also see how they make soccer balls by hand and then we'll visit the chocolate factory to get a taste of the incredible chocolates that are made here. Then, we will head out on paved farm roads through the rolling green pastures that surround Salinas.
With fantastic scenery at all times we turn onto the Avenue of Volcanoes to ride around the Chimborazo Volcano, which soars above at a height of 6,310 meters (20,702 feet). This is the highest mountain in the Americas and is the highest land mass on earth when you take into account its proximity to the Equator.
Our ride around Chimborazo will take us through the Chimborazo wildlife refuge where if you hadn't gotten a glimpse of wild llamas earlier, you will be sure to see plenty here today! There are also wild guinea pigs and other wild animals. You will be at an altitude of about 14,500 feet (4,350 meters) - so be sure to have your warm gloves on. The views will be stunning!
We will then cross through the colonial city of Riobamha and continue eastward, following the Chambo River and scenic valleys. The road will become a dirt road for about 15 miles but easy to ride and a completely different terrain of shifting faultlines and high cliffs.
We will then arrive in the town of Banos - one of the best adventure capitals of the world. We will be sure to soak away the day's ride in the volcanic baths that are kept at varying temperatures before we head to one of the town's excellent restaurants with an outdoor garden. Our carefully selected accomodations for tonight are at the friendly and comfortable La Floresta Hotel.
Banos - Patate - Latacunga - Pujilli - Quilotoa Crater Lake - Chugchilan
183 kilometers / 114 miles on 100% asphalt
We can take the time this morning to have another soak in the town's volcanic spring baths before heading out on the road. The morning will be spent riding some curvy narrow, paved country roads that take you past dairy farms and vistas above the city of Ambato.
We will pass through the beautiful colonial city of Latacunga with its Spanish colonial historical centre and then ride westward, up into the mountains. You have now begun riding on the famous "Quilotoa Loop." The Quilotoa Loop is known for its beautiful scenery and for its friendly, indigenous people. We will stop in the town of Pujilli, which has a great indigenous market - not very touristy - but with great textiles and other useful but inexpensive goods. This is a great chance to chat with the local people.
You will be steadily rising in altitude again and will have a chance to see more llamas and alpacas grazing in the highlands pampa. If just looking at them doesn't satisfy you you can enjoy some llama meat at the Llama cafe just before you get to the town of Tigua. Tigua is known for its colorful paintings and ceramics and this small village has a fantastic gallery - worth a stop at least to see some of the fine art created in this part of the world.
Once in the town of Zumbahua, we will turn north and ride through a beautiful valley to the Quilotoa Crater Lake. This amazing lake was created by a collapsed volcano that left behind minerals that now give the deep crater lake an odd blue-green color.
From the Quilotoa Lake the road will wind through some incredibly picturesque countryside. We will stay for the night at the Mama Hilda's Hostel. The staff at Mama Hilda's will serve you a delicious, family-style Ecuadorian dinner with pots and pots of food.
Chugchilan - Saquisilli - Machachi - Quito
152 kilometers / 95 miles on 90% paved roads / 5% cobblestone road / 5% unimproved dirt road
We will enjoy a hearty breakfast with fresh fruits and juices and then head out on the road. For those with offroad riding experience and a desire for a more offroad route home, we can proute to take you on back roads back to Quito by request.
We will continue on unpaved road until you reach the town of Sigchos. Sigchos was an indigenous settlement long before the arrival of the Spanish who settled it in the early 1500's. Once through Sigchos the road will become an ancient cobblestone road. There are a few of these ancient roads in Ecuador and they are maintained the old fashioned way - by replacing the stones by hand. The work is really impressive.
We will wind through some dizzying switch-back roads, climbing first in elevation and then descending into the town of Saquisilli. Saquisilli is famous for its enormous indigenous market.
From Saquisilli, we will head north towards Quito on the PanAmerican highway, otherwise known as the Avenue of Volcanoes. Along this highway you will be surrounded by towering snow-capped volcanoes - with the Cotopaxi Volcano on one side and the Illiniza on the other.
To end your tour on a festive note, we will stop at the famous "Cafe de la Vaca" in Machachi. They set the standard for Ecuadorian food and have great Ecuadorian coffee.
You will finish your "Cloudforests, Coast and Craters" Tour where you began - at our offices in the Mariscal Section of Quito. Now that you have finished your tour we hope you have some memories to last a lifetime...
Upcoming Tour Dates:
- 03 September 2017
- 21 January 2018
Please see our tour calendar or please contact us for specific dates that you require!
- On a Yamaha XT250: $3670
- On a Suzuki DR650: $3880
- On a Kawasaki KLR650: $3880
- On a Husqvarna Terra TR650: $3950
- On a Suzuki V-Strom DL650: $4260
- On a BMW G 650 GS: $4260
- On a KTM 690 EnduroR: $4370
- On a Husqvarna 701 Enduro: $4370
- On a Yamaha Ténéré XT660: $4230
- On a BMW F700 GS $4370
- On a Triumph Tiger 800XC: $4510
- On a BMW F800GS: $4510
- On a Suzuki V-Strom 1000: $4230
- On a Honda Africa Twin CRF100L: $4580
- On a KTM 1050 ADVENTURE: $4620
- Passenger / Pillion (double occupancy): $1475
- Contact us for shared room price if you have a travel partner and prefer to share a room.
- Unlimited Mileage Motorcyle Rental
- Saddlebags or hard luggage system
- Tank Bag
- ALL Meals
- Tour of Quito on doubledecker bus (before or after your tour)
- Single occupancy in 3-4 star hotels and hostels
- Experienced, multi-lingual, Ecuador resident, "insider" guide who knows the route and the people along it
- Entry fees to activities mentioned in the description (volcanic baths, chocolate tour, etc)
- Store your luggage while you ride (bring your own padlock)
- Guaranteed departure (we go even if you are the only one signed up - we do not cancel tours!)
- Support vehicle for groups of 5+ riders
- Souvenir T-Shirt
- Pre-tour 25% discount on high quality riding gear from
- You do NOT have to pull your wallet out on any of our guided tours!
Prices do not include:
- Hotel accomodations in Quito before and after the tour
- Refundable security deposit required for motorcycle rental
- Alcholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities for your guide
- Ecuador IVA tax (14%) ONLY FOR RESIDENTS OF ECUADOR
- **NO TAX FOR VISITORS ON TOURS**
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.
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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.