Cloudforests, Coast, and Craters Tour
A 7-Day Guided Motorcycle Adventure
Distance: 1,237 kilometers / 769 miles 75% paved road / 25% unpaved road
Time Needed: 7 days / 6 nights
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...
Minimum participants: 1 (guaranteed departures)
Maximum particpants: 8 (keeps things fun and easy)
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: 62 miles (10 miles unpaved road) / 100 km (15 km unpaved road)
You’ll begin your "Cloudforest, Coast and Craters" tour from our shop located in Quito, Ecuador - 2850 meters (almost 2 miles above sea level) high 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 magnificent capital city while getting accustomed to the high altitude before you begin 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, Ecuadorian driver courtesies, 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 directly 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. Directly on the red line of the equator we will see water go either clockwise or counter-clockwise down a drain, depending on which side of the equator we are on. We will also get to know how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live and visit some typical indigenous homes. This tour will give you excellent background information on Ecuador so that you will better understand the cultures we'll see as we pass through various regions of Ecuador during the epic trip ahead.
After the visit at the Inti-ñan museum, we will be officially out of the Quito metropolitan region and riding in the Northern Hemisphere. We will stop to view the beautiful Pululahua Crater Geobotanical reserve. This crater was formed by a volcano that erupted 2500 years ago. After the crater visit, we will be heading into the Western Slopes of Ecuador. The Western slopes are full of dense, green forests and steep mountains. The roads through this area have been recently paved and riding the sharp curves will be fun and exhilirating. Then, we will change our pace a little bit -and take a left turn off the main highway and onto an unpaved, unmarked road that takes us deep into the cloudforest. Here we will have a chance to visit the world-famous Bellavista Cloudforest Bird Lodge. This is a very special place where we will take a refreshment (or lunch depending on the time) on their amazing patio, as we watch hundreds of hummingbirds surround us. There is no place like it on earth where so many species of birds can be seen.
Once back on the bikes, we'll be riding through the deep cloudforests alongside clear streams with cascading waterfalls, arriving shortly into the funky, eclectic town of Mindo. Mindo is set in a microclimate of the Western Slopes of Ecuador, in a warm cloudforest known for its natural beauty and great restaurants. Once in Mindo, we will head to the El Quetzal chocolate factory for a tour that will educate and entertain. We'll learn about organic cocoa farming and processing and how cacao is turned into chocolate from the moment it is picked from the tree to the completed chocolate bars. We will of course sample some of their products before leaving!
After our visit to the The Quetzal we will check into our carefully selected accomodations for the night at the Hotel Caskafessu. We will enjoy a fantastic gourmet dinner before settling in for the night.
Day 2: Mindo - La Concordia - Pedernales - Jama - Canoa
293 km / 182 miles on 100% asphalt road
After a hearty breakfast, we will head out of Mindo, climbing first in elevation and then once back on Route 25, we will start our 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. We will feel the temperature of the air around you begin to rise as you roll down the curves, crossing some roaring rivers and experiencing breathtaking views along 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. When you enter Manabi Province you will begin to see that horses are a more common mode of transport than cars and buses as you head into the tropical grasslands.
La Concordia is a commercial city, a trading center for the area's biggest crop - palm oil. The palm groves that surround this city are almost magical.
You 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 it has a festive atmosphere. This is also Ecuador's shrimp capital and we will 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.
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.
We 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. Our carefully selected accomodations are at the Coco Loco Hostel, right on the beach and with a great atmosphere thanks to its friendly helpful and fun staff.
Day 3: Canoa - Bahia de Caraquez - Quevedo
229 kilometers / 142 miles on 100% 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 "Jellyfish Drive." After crossing the Bahia de Caraquez on Ecuador's newest bridge and through the city of the same name, you’ll begin to head away from the coast, passing through many cacao, rice and cattle farms and through the town of Portoviejo. 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 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 Jade Restaurant, the best Ecuadorian-Chinese cuisine in Quevedo (and probably in all of Ecuador).
Day 4: Quevedo - El Corazon - Facundo Vela - Salinas de Guaranda
136 kilometers / 85 miles on 5% asphalt / 95% unimproved dirt roads
Today's ride may not be very many kilometers long but will be somewhat challenging as it will be primarily on unimproved dirt and gravel roads. We will start the ride leaving the bustling city of Quevedo on a dirt road 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 1912...
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 11,000 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 Hotel El Refugio you can warm yourself at the big fireplace and get a good night sleep in a room overlooking the village.
Day 5: Salinas de Guaranda - Chimborazo - Riobamba - Banos
150 kilometers / 93 miles on 90% asphalt road / 10% unimproved dirt 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 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.
Day 6: Banos - Patate - Latacunga - Pujilli - Quilotoa Crater Lake - Chugchilan
197 kilometers / 122 miles on 85% asphalt / 15% unimproved dirt roads
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 become unpaved and we will wind through some incredibly picturesque countryside. We will stay for the night at the San José de Sigchos Hacienda, which has excellent first class accomodations plus a swimming pool, jacuzzi, a steam sauna and dry sauna that will help us relax on our last night together. The Haciendal will serve you a delicious, gourmet Ecuadorian dinner. If we arrive early they have ATV's that can be used to explore the farm and surrounding countryside.
Day 7: Chugchilan - Saquisilli - Machachi - Quito
151 kilometers / 94 miles on 90% paved roads / 5% cobblestone road / 5% unimproved dirt road
We will enjoy a hearty hacienda 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 provide you with a route 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...
Please see our tour calendar or please contact us for specific dates that you require!
- On a Honda XL200: $2450
- On a Suzuki DR200: $2450
- On a Suzuki DR650: $2730
- On a Kawasaki KLR650: $2980
- On a Husqvarna TE630: $3130
- On a Suzuki V-Strom DL650: $3250
- On a BMW R1150GS: $3590
- Unlimited Mileage Motorcyle Rental
- Saddlebags or hard luggage system
- ALL Meals
- Single occupancy in 3-4 star hotels and hostels
- SOAT emergency medical and third party liability insurance
- Helmets and gloves
- Experienced, multi-lingual guide
- Entry fees to activities mentioned in the description (volcanic baths, chocolate tour, etc)
Prices do not include:
- Airfare to Quito
- Hotel accomodations before and after the tour
- Alcholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities
- Ecuador IVA tax (12%)
- Sign up an additional rider - get $100 off your price!