An All-Inclusive Dual-Sport Motorcycle Adventure
(9 days/ 8 nights)
This tour will bring you to many of Ecuador's most popular attractions in just over a week, while still taking the rider far-far off the beaten track and onto many of the country's best motorcycling roads. This tour will have you experiencing shocking cultural, climatic and geological changes each and every day. The ride goes through some of the world's most biodiverse natural areas and riders will have plenty of time to enjoy each visited location along the way. In addition, there are several opportunities to learn about Ecuador's amazing natural places such as an interactive fun tour at the Equator, a hike through the Amazon jungle with a native guide to learn about the wildlife there and the traditional uses of plants and insects, as well as a tour to learn how chocolate is grown and processed. You will also get an appreciation of how native Ecuadorians have lived for centuries, riding through lands where horses and oxen are still used instead of trucks and tractors. All accommodations are first-rate high quality hotels and resorts - some of the best in Ecuador. This tour is an opportunity to experience an "Amazing Ecuador"!
Distance Covered: 62 miles (10 miles unpaved road) / 100 km (15 km unpaved road)
You'll begin this 9-day / 8 night “Amazing Ecuador” dual-sport motorcycle tour from our shop in the magnificent capital city of 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. We'll answer all your questions about 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.
Our first stop: 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 you 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 this first stop located directly on the “red line” you will experiment with gravity, including witnessing how water drainseither 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 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, we 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 twisties is certain to be exhilarating fun. Changing the pace a little bit, we then 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,we will take a break and relax on their amazing patio while watching hundreds of hummingbirds flit around us. There is probably no other place on earth where so many species of birds can be viewed.
We'll 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 wilvisit 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 at the Hotel Caskafessu. We will enjoy a fantastic gourmet dinner before settling in for the night in this comfortable bed and breakfast inn.
Mindo - Nanegal - Nangulvi - Lake Cuicocha - Cotacachi - Peguche Falls - Otavalo
Distance Covered: 127 miles (75 miles unpaved road) / 204 km (120 km unpaved road)
You will start your day in the bird watching capital of Ecuador, enjoying breakfast while hundreds of species of colorful birds surround you in every direction. You will then pack up your bike and head out of the micro-climate of Mindo and climb into the cloudforest of Ecuador's Western Slopes. You'll be awakened riding the twisties while the fragrant rainforest air surrounds you. Passing through the town of Nanegal, we will have a chance for a short hike and swim in a waterfall and small lagoon.
Continuing deeper into the rainforest, we enter one of Ecuador's most beautiful natural regions that few foreigners ever visit. The Rio Intag cloudforest region is fast becoming known though for its high quality coffee growers. 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. You will witness a completely different pace of life here. You can have a stop at the naturally heated swimming pools at the volcanic baths at Nangulvi. The restaurant along the Intag river is a great place for a snack or lunch.
As we continue your ride, the elevations will rise and fall several times - and with each change in elevation we will see new wildlife, farming and vegetation. 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. The lake is over 600 feet deep and when the ancient peoples could not find the bottom, they believed that the lake was in fact a tunnel to the Pacific Ocean.
Just below the lake, we will stop in the town of Cotacachi, known for its leather market and leather artisans. This is a opportune time to find a new wallet, belt, or boots at great prices. The next stop is at the Peguche Falls. When you get off the bike, you will hear the falls roaring in the background. It is a short walk to the falls through eucalyptus groves and once you arrive at the magnificent falls, you will understand why this is a sacred place for the shamans of the indigenous people.
Otavalo textiles are famous for their history and quality. The Otavaleños were skilled weavers even prior to the Incan rule. Then in the Spanish colonial days, after being granted land near present day Otavalo, Rodrigo de Salazar set up a weaving workshop that employed the already skilled weavers. Through technological advancements, the Otavalo weavers supplied textiles to most of Latin America. Today the area has a number of wool mills and looms producing high quality textiles. A visit to the Indigenous market at the "Plaza de los Ponchos" in the center of Otavalo is a feast for your eyes and an opportunity to bring back some great gifts for your friends and family.
You will become an expert at riding on cobblestone road after your visit to Lake Mojanda - a high-altitude lake (around 13,000 feet). To get there, we will follow a road that was constructed hundreds of years ago of cobblestone. Each stone has been carefully placed so that the road lasts several lifetimes with minimal maintenance. These roads are still maintained the old-fashioned way - by replacing the rocks by hand. Once at the top of this cobblestone road, you will be looking at the Fuya Fuya Volcano and the serene high altitude Mojanda Lake surrounded by highlands pampa and wild alpaca.
You will settle in for the night in your own private cabin alongside the tranquil Lake San Pablo in the luxurious Cabanas del Lago Hotel, just outside of Otavalo.
Otavalo - Cayambe - Cangahua - Oyacachi - Papallacta
Distance Covered: 72 miles (50 miles unpaved) / 116 Km (80 km unpaved)
We will enjoy a great breakfast on the shore of Lake San Pablo while watching the duck and swans swim and feed in the tranquil water.
Today's ride will certainly be way off the beaten track, as most maps of Ecuador do not even have the roads identified on them! A special permit is required to enter this region, which ensures little traffic and unspoiled wilderness.
Our ride will start passing through the countryside of working farms outside of Otavalo, then we will cross the Equator again in Cayambe (another opportunity for photos if you want) and then take you on ancient Incan cobblestone roads that lead deep into the paramo rainforest. We will have great views of the massive snow-capped Cayambe volcano to our left. This is the only place on Earth where the Equator passes through snow. We will be entering the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. At slightly over 400,000 hectares, the reserve is one of the largest in Ecuador. The reserve is home to more than 100 mammal species, and 395 bird, 70 reptile, and 116 amphibian species. This area is most known for the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus). Other local mammal residents include the puma (Puma concolor), mountain or Andean cat (Oncifelis colocolo), fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), Andean coati (Nasuella olivacea), and dwarf deer (Mazama rufina). Birdwatchers may catch a glimpse of one of the beautiful hummingbirds, parrots, or the endangered Andean condor, which is the world’s largest flying bird. Most of this ride will be in high elevations, at over 13,000 feet. Be prepared for dramatic changes in weather that come on fast. Temperatures can vary from the mid-30's to low 70's.
We arrive at the secluded town of Oyacachi in a fertile, volcanic valley. Oyacachi has thermal hot springs, with pools kept at various temperatures. Here will have a fresh trout lunch. And we mean fresh! Once you have ordered at the restaurant, they will go fish out a trout cook it up immediately. Nothing could be more healthy or delicious!
Then, we continue our ride through pristine forests and high altitude paramo to arrive at the luxurious Termas de Papallacta Spa & Resort. Here you can really pamper yourself after a rough ride through the wilderness. There is an outstanding gourmet restaurant, beautifully decorated thermal pools, jacuzzis, saunas and ample opportunities for a professional massage.
Papallacta - Jumandy Caves - Puerto Misahualli - Cotococha Amazon Lodge
Distance covered - 99 miles on paved roads / 159 Km on paved roads
Enjoy your great breakfast, take another swim in the volcanic baths and get ready for another amazing day! (There is that word again!) The morning will have you twisting down the Eastern Slopes of the Andes mountains, passing tremendous waterfalls and crossing through rich fertile valleys. We will descend from an altitude of about 11,500 feet to about 1500 feet above sea level, so some stops to remove a layer of clothing will probably be necessary.
After passing through the rainforest town of Baeza, we enter the Amazonian region of Ecuador. You'll notice more humid air and a dramatic change in vegetation and culture. Further up the road are the Jumandi Caves, created by underground river currents. There are guides there that will show us around the caves, but you will need to wade through water - so be sure to have a pair of shorts handy. The guides will provide us with a pair of rubber boots. Be sure to bring a flashlight and your waterproof camera!
Riding onward, we pass through the white-water rafting capital of South America, Tena, and cross the roaring rivers that feed the Amazon river further to the east. The route will take us for a short detour out to the town of Puerto Misahualli - which is the most western navigable port of the Amazon river basin. From here, you could take a boat all the way to the Atlantic ocean via the Amazon river. Puerto Misahualli is famous for its mischievous monkey population that loves to play with the local dogs and tourists. Be sure to bring your camera -but hold on tight to it! The monkeys love to snap them out of your hands!
Then we'll cross the mighty Rio Napo on a one-lane wire bridge over the mighty Napo River, to find the Cotococha Amazon Lodge, and check into your private, riverside 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.
Afterwards, we will enjoy a special welcome drink while relaxing around the elegant fireplace. We will coordinate and discuss our next morning’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 roars in the background.
Cotococha Amazon Lodge - Puyo - Baños de Agua Santa
Distance covered: 88 miles / 142 km on paved road.
We wi'll begin our day eating breakfast amidst the sounds of the jungle. Then you will be provided a pair of rubber boots and we board a long, motorized canoe that will take us up the Napo River. Accompanied by a native guide, wel hike deep into the Amazon jungle and learn about the different plant, animal and insect species that we see along the way. You will learn how the native peoples communicated, hunted and used the plants and animals in this unique wilderness. The hike is about 45 minutes long and at the end we will be rewarded with a swim in a beautiful lagoon with a cascading waterfall in a natural setting.
After the hike, we float back to the lodge in an inner tube while enjoying the tranquility and beauty of this natural wonderland. Once back at the lodge, we pack your saddlebags and head back onto the road. You will have great views of the Sierra towering over you to the west as you ride at the edge of the Amazon jungle, passing through the city of Puyo, the commercial, cultural and political capital of this area. There are great places for lunch in and around Puyo - a good chance to taste the local Amazonian specialties.
From Puyo, we begin our climb back into the Andes on a twisty road lined with astounding waterfalls and beautiful wild orchids. We avoid the tunnels, opting for the side roads along the cliffs, for fantastic views of the roaring river below.
We end today's ride in the beautiful city of "Baños de Agua Santa", famous for its health-giving thermal springs. The town is set in the shadow of the mighty Tungarahua Volcano, which is now a very active volcano that occasionally erupts with pyroclastic emissions and thick ash. Baños 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. Once in the heart of the small city, we check into the comfortable and friendly Floresta Hotel where we will spend the next two nights. Then we head to the volcanic springs, just a few blocks away, to soak away and refresh!
"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 (rappelling 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 an exciting nightlife, too. This is the perfect spot for a rewarding rest day, no matter what you choose to do.
Baños - Riobamba - Chimborazo National Wildlife Refuge - Salinas de Guaranda
93 miles / 150 Km on paved roads
Leaving Baños, we follow a unpaved road that curves around the mighty Tungarahua volcano. This particular road can not be paved because of the frequent seismic activity. This road will follow along the Chambal river, leading past fertile farmlands to the colonial city of Riobamba with grand plazas and Spanish colonial architecture.
Once outside of Riobamba, we will begin a climb that will take us to over 14,500 feet. Be prepared to add extra layers of clothing and to have your winter gloves ready. The temperatures can be just above the freezing point along this high altitude ride. This is the famous Chimborazo National Wildlife Refuge and we will be riding 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 distance to the core of the earth. Wild vicuña, a relative of the camel and llama, run free along with wild guinea pigs in this national wildlife reserve. The terrain is barren and the weather changes quickly in this high altitude desert. It makes you think you are somewhere on the Moon, not Earth.
After descending to slightly lower elevations, you will find yourself downshifting as you twist through curvy roads in a fertile valley of dairy farms and enter the town of Salinas de Guaranda. Salinas has a very interesting history. It is a town that has pulled itself out of poverty into a prosperous, thriving town. Their local economy is a collective - all of the means of production are owned by the townspeople and the profits are shared and re-invested into new projects that provide employment and opportunities to the residents. We will get a tour of their chocolate factory, cheese factory and natural health care production from one of the local youths that operate their tourism board. It is a very interesting tour that takes about an hour.
Tonight, we will be staying in the El Refugio Hotel, which overlooks the town and has a great fireplace in the lobby where you can sit and chat with fellow travellers.
Salinas - Pujilli - Quilotoa Crater Lake - Chugchilan
Distance covered: 129 miles / 207 Km (15 miles / 25 km unpaved road)
In the morning we will be sure to stroll through Salinas to watch the early morning milk deliveries to the cheese factory. Dairy farmers bring their daily production into town by donkey, llama and by horseback. The city is alive in the brisk morning air. Then, we'll have a great breakfast (with fresh eggs and cheese of course) and set off on the road. You'll be riding along one of the most incredible motorcycle roads in the world - the "Antigua Ruta a Guaranda" which leads from a high elevation of about 12,000 feet following a river that carves a canyon through some of the most picturesque countryside in Ecuador. Be sure to have your camera ready for this ride!
We will pass through the beautiful colonial city of Latacunga with its Spanish colonial historical center and then ride westward, up into the mountains. We 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 colorful indigenous market - not very touristy but with great textiles and other useful and inexpensive goods.
Once again, we 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, we could 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 - we'll stop to see some of the fine artwork created in this part of the world.
In the town of Zumbahua, we turn north and ride through a beautiful valley to the Quilotoa Crater Lake. This is a water-filled caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The 3 kilometres (2 mi) wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following a catastrophicVEI-6 eruption about 800 years ago, which produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that reached the Pacific Ocean, and spread an airborne deposit of volcanic ash throughout the northern Andes. The caldera has since accumulated a 250 m (820 ft) deep crater lake, which has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals. Fumaroles are found on the lake floor and hot springs occur on the eastern flank of the volcano.
From the Quilotoa Lake the road will become unpaved and will wind through some incredibly picturesque countryside. We stop for the night at Mama Hilda's Hostel in Chugchilan, where the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has stayed on a few occasions. The hostel will serve us an enormous, family-style Ecuadorian dinner with pots and pots of locally grown food.
Chugchilan - Saquisilli - Avenue of Volcanoes - Quito
151 kilometers / 94 miles on 90% paved roads / 5% cobblestone road / 5% unimproved dirt road
After a hearty country Mama Hilda's breakfast, we head out on the road for our last day of adventure. For groups with offroad riding experience and a desire for a more offroad route home, we can opt for a more offroad route for the last day.
We will continue on unpaved road until we 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.
You will wind through some dizzying switch-back roads, climbing first in elevation and then descending into the town of Saquisilli. Saquisilli is known for its enormous indigenous market which happens every Thursday morning..
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 our tour on a festive note, we stop at the famous "Cafe de la Vaca" in Machachi. They set the standard for Ecuadorian food and have great Ecuadorian coffee.
We will finish our "Amazing Ecuador" Tour where it began - at our offices in the Mariscal Section of Quito. We hope that this has created memories to last you a lifetime!
ANY day ANY time of year, with advanced reservations.
On a Honda XL200: $3,350
On a Suzuki DR200: $3,350
On a Suzuki DR650: $3,820
On a Kawasaki KLR650: $3,820
On a Husqvarna TE630: $3,820
On a Husqvarna Terra TR650: $3,910
On a Suzuki V-Strom DL650: $4,000
On a BMW G 650 GS: $4,090
On a Triumph Tiger 800 X/C: $4,355
On a BMW F800GS: $4,355
On a BMW R1150GSA: $4,355
In a 1974 Land Rover Defender Pickup: $3,350 (available only when other motorcycles participating)
Passenger Pillion Charge: $2,490 (double occupancy)
Prices do not include: