Photos from a guided Andes, Amazon & Pacific Coast Tour (February 2013):
*note that the route has since been paved and is now (end of 2014) 99% paved!
This self-guided adventure tour traverses three distinctive regions in Ecuador: the Pacific Coast, Andes Mountains, and Amazon Jungle basin while passing through several climatic zones, including cloudforests, coastal savannah, beach, desert, rainforests on both the eastern and western slopes of the Andes, and the unique Amazon jungle. This is an opportunity to experience several different cultures and varied ways of life from traditional coastal villages to those of indigenous people in the highlands and Amazon basin. The tour goes through some of the most bio-diverse regions in the world and parts of rural Ecuador that few visitors get to see.
Activities include a special coffee and chocolate tour, the Inti-ñan Solar Museum, and an Amazon jungle hike with a native guide. The tour packs a lot into a very exciting week to create memories that will last for a lifetime. With easy to follow pre-programmed GPS and a "Road Book" you will be sure to be riding the best roads in Ecuador and staying in carefully selected, biker friendly accomodations each night. Just hop on the bike and ride!
Distance Covered: 64 miles / 103 km on paved road (unpaved 10 miles optional)
You'll begin this 9-day / 8 night “Andes, Amazon and Pacific Coast” 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 be shown how to operate your pre-programmed GPS unit with daily routes and be given a "Road Book" with details and points of interest for each day. You will also be provided an "emergency kit" containing a pre-paid cell phone, first aid kit, tools and other items to ensure your ride goes smoothly. 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 your 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 you pass through various regions.
Departing the Inti-ñan Museum you are now officially outside of the Quito metropolitan region, and have begun riding in the Northern Hemisphere. Your 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.
OPTIONAL: Changing the pace a little bit, take a left turn off the main highway and venture onto an unpaved, unmarked road that leads deep into the cloudforest. Here, at the world-famous Bellavista Cloudforest Bird Lodge, take a break on their amazing patio and watch hundreds of hummingbirds flitting around us. There is no other place on earth where so many species of birds can be viewed. Note that the unpaved section is optional - you can continue along the newly paved highway all the way to Mindo!
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. You may want to 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 wanat to sample this chocolate, as Ecuador produces some of the best chocolate in the world.
After your visit to the The Quetzal , check into the carefully selected accomodations for the night deep in the cloudforest setting at the charmingly luxurious Septimo Paraiso Resort.
Day 2: Mindo - La Concordia - Pedernales - Jama - Canoa
293 km / 182 miles on 100% asphalt road
After a hearty breakfast, hop on your bike, bring up your programmed route for the day on your GPS unit and head out of Mindo. You will first climb in elevation to reach Route 25 and then begin to descend along the western slope of the Andes. Expect fog as you pass through the cloudforest and down into tropical rainforest. From San Miguel de Los Bancos, continue a long, gradual descent towards the Pacific coast. The temperature begins to rise as you decrease your 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.
You can stop and take a 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. This is a great refreshing stop that shouldn't be missed!
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 you will want to stop at one of the ocean-side restaurants for lunch. Expect to enjoy the freshest and most delicious shrimp you’veeaten in your life.
From Pedernales we ride south along the coastal road, passing wild and undeveloped beaches and shrimp farms. You will pass through the quiet town of Jama, a throwback to a simpler time where the tides and fishermen set the pace.
Your 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.
"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 Betty Surf & Yoga). 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 - Vinces
245 kilometers / 152 miles on 100% asphalt road
Enjoy a last swim on the beautiful beach in Canoa and a filling breakfast. This morning's ride will continue down the coastal road also known as "ruta del sol" 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 pass through the friendly town of Santa Ana and through the tranquil countryside of Los Rios and Guayas Provinces.
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.
Enjoy the night on a chocolate and banana plantation. in the luxurious Senor de los Caballos Resort. You'll get a chance to learn how teakwood, chocolate and bananas are grown and cultivated. You'll also learn to make a special drink.
Vinces - Quilotoa Crater Lake - Sigchos
287 kilometers / 178 miles on 98% asphalt / 2% unimproved dirt roads
After a breakfast of fresh juices, fruits and eggs by the pool, pack up the bike and head into the peaceful countryside of Los Rios Province. You'll soon be crossing expansive chocolate plantations and palm tree groves. The tremendous Andes mountains begin to tower above as you enter the foothills and begin tolimb in altitude, passing through - and then popping above-the clouds.
The air will begin to cool as you start of series of downshifts and hairpin turns to climb from near sea level to over 13,200 feet. The views are stunning along this climb and you will probably want to stop on a few occasions to marvel at the scenery below, capture some great photos and to add additional layers of clothing. After crossing the scenic high altitude village of Pilalo, descend into the town of Zumbahua, known for its Indigenous market in the center of town.
From Zumbahua, you are now on the famous "Quilotoa Loop" - famous for its incredible scenery and for the astonishing Quilotoa Crater Lake. Be sure to stop at the lake to admire its odd blue-green color from the minerals left after a meteoriccollision created it several thousand years ago. Once past the lake, you will be riding on newly paved roads that wind through several indigenous villages and past peaceful family farms.
The day's ride will end by relaxing in the saunas, jacuzzis and swimming pools of the Hosteria San José de Sigchos. This family farm-turned luxury bed and breakfast will offers us a comfortable room and delicious gourmet Ecuadorian dinner.
Sigchos - Chimborazo Wildlife Refuge - Baños
273 kilometers / 170 miles on 100% paved roads
You wake up in the renovated farmhouse of the Hosteria San Jose de Sigchos and have a good Ecuadorian country breakfast.. The first stop you'll want to make is in Sigchos. Sigchos was an indigenous settlement long before the arrival of the Spanish who settled it in the early 1500's. It has a beautiful church and well-maintained town center. Once through Sigchos the road will become a beautiful newly-paved road that is several centuries old built by the Incas before the Spanish arrived. This road is one of the most beautiful in Ecuador, with incredible views and fun tight switchbacks with very little traffic.
With fantastic scenery at all times you 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.
Your ride around Chimborazo will take you through the Chimborazo wildlife refuge where you'll be sure to see the rare wild vicuñ, the lighter, faster higher altitude cousin of the llama and camel 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!
You 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. There is an alternate, 100% paved route available if you do not like to ride dirt roads.
You will then arrive in the town of Banos - one of the best adventure capitals of the world. Be sure to soak away the day's ride in the volcanic baths that are kept at varying temperatures - the best time to get to the baths is when they open at 5:00 pm. The baths close at 4 pm every day to change the water so getting there at 5 means a smaller crowd and cleaner water! Once you have soaked away the effects of the road grab a meal at one of the town's fantastic restaurants. Your carefully selected accomodations for tonight are at the beautifuly decorated and charming Posada del Arte hotel.
"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. Contact our friends at GeoTours for more information on these activities. 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.
Day 8: Banos - Puyo - Cotococha Amazon Lodge
150 kilometers / 93 miles on 100% paved roads
Go ahead, linger a little longer than normal this morning! Take another steamy volcanic bath and enjoy a full breakfast at the comfortable La Floresta hotel before you head back on the road. The GPS will lead you 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.
Again, you will see the vegetation and cultures change dramatically on today's ride. The air will become warm as you arrive in Puyo - and you are now officially in the Amazonia region. The GPS will have youl take highway 45 north, and with a great view of the Sierra to your left, ride the comfortable, newly paved road with rolling hills and plenty of curves to keep it fun.
Take a right, turning onto a road that follows the Napo River, and go deeper into the Amazon jungle. You will soon arrive at the Cotococha Amazon Lodge and check into your bungalow 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.
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 surges in the background.
Day 9: Cotococha - Misahualli - Papallacta -Quito
222 kilometers / 138 miles on 100% paved roads
After another healthy breakfast at Cotococha, pack up the bike and continue your ride along the Napo River, and cross a narrow 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 for sure but be careful the monkeys don't grab it away from you!
Then, head back westward on the other side of the Napo river, and through the kayaking capital of the Americas, Tena. From Tena, continue your ride along the edge of the Amazon jungle with dense vegetation all around..
You will begin your ascent into the eastern slopes once again as you pass through the rainforest town of Baeza. Here, add some additional layers of clothing for the chilly air that you will face as you climb back into the majestic Andes.
You can stop at the Hot Springs of Papallacta for a relaxing swim and soak in the hot springs. Refreshed, you will now cross a mountain pass at over 14,000 feet before coasting back to Quito.
End the day's ride and the "Jungles Mountains and Coast" 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...
Any day, any time of year with advanced reservations.
On a Suzuki DR200: $1925
On a Suzuki DR650: $2450
On a Kawasaki KLR650: $2450
On a Husqvarna Terra TR650: $2550
On a Suzuki V-Strom DL650: $2760
On a BMW G 650 GS: $2970
On a KTM 690 Enduro R: $3070
On a BMW F700 GS: $3070
On a Triumph Tiger 800XC: $3180
On a BMW F800GS: $3180
On a Suzuki V-Strom DL 1000ABS: $3070
On a KTM 1050 Adventure: $3180
In a Volkswagen Amarok 4X4 Biturbo Diesel Pickup Truck: $3675
Passenger / Pillion (double occupancy): $795 (please note that Ecuadorian hotels charge per person, not per room)