Offroad Ecuador ADVenture
A 6 Day Self-Guided Expedition
- Time Needed: 6 days / 5 nights
- Total Distance: approx. 670 miles / 1,075 kilometers
- Accomodations: 3-4 star hotel and high quality hostel accomodations
- Mostly unpaved roads
- Very remote areas
- Cotacachi Wildlife Refuge, Nono Biological Reserve, Quilotoa Crater Lake, Salinas de Guaranda
- Climactic Zones: Tropical Rainforest / Tropical Grasslands / Highlands Pampa / Cloudforest
- Provinces: Pichincha, Imbabura, Santo Domingo de los Tschallas, Cotopaxi, Bolivar, Los Rios
This tour is reserved for the truly adventurous -those who love to ride off-road - way, way off the beaten track. The tour aims to avoid pavement as much as possible and will take the rider immediately out of Quito and onto some spectacular off-road riding and to parts of Ecuador that most people don't ever get the opportunity to see.
You will visit the colonial cities of Otavalo, Cotacachi, Sigchos and other less-known and much more remote villages and towns.
The route passes through a part of this world that time has forgotten, where farming is still done with ancient techniques and where people are surprised to see strangers come through their village. It is a ride through incredible terrain, mountain passes and around crater lakes.
The Offroad Ecuador ADVenture Tour passes through several climactic zones and thus offers a chance to view native wildlife while gaining an intimate understanding of the incredible biodiversity found in Ecuador.
WARNING: This is not a normal motorcycle ride. This tour requires elements of endurance and stamina. Riders must be able to ride in adverse weather conditions and adverse road conditions and for long time periods of time (up to 10 hours)
Quito-Inti'ñan-San José de Minas-Laguna de Mojanda-Otavalo
Distance Covered: 94 miles (60 miles offroad) / 151 km (96 km offroad)
You’ll begin your six day “Offroad Ecuador ADVenture" 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 centre in all of Latin America. We recommend you arrive a day or two in advance of the tour to experience this majestic city and to acclimate yourself to the high altitude.
On the morning of the tour departure, you’ll be outfitted with the offroad motorcycle of your choice and given a thoughtful presentation that will answer all your questions concerning the route, local customs, rules of the road, and other tips to make sure you enjoy the road and have the information you need to make this ride a success. You will be provided a GPS that has been programmed with a route for each day. A "Road Book" will provide you with information for each day's route including points of interest, interesting facts, suggested lunch stops and advice on travel and departure times. You will be provided a set of waterproof saddlebags (or hard luggage depending on your bike choice), plus a full emergency kit containing tire repair kits, inner tubes, a first aid kit, spare clutch and brake levers, other spare parts, a complete toolkit and a pre-paid cell phone.
The first day's ride is intended to give you a sampling of the different types of roads you will be riding. You will ride on a combination of asphalt, dry gravel, cobblestone and unimproved dirt roads.
The first stop will be in the middle of the world The Inti-ñan museum is situated right on the Equator. Inti-ñan means "path of the Sun" in Quechua, a native language of Ecuador. Be sure to take a tour of this magical site, a place that the indigenous peoples have revered for thousands of years. You will learn how the ancient people came to understand that this was the center of the world, centuries before "modern" geography or GPS devices. You can play with gravity here and perform some experiments to learn about the Coriolis effect caused by the Earth's rotation. See the water spin different directions down a drain, depending on which hemisphere it is in. You will also get to know how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live and visit some typical homes of a few different cultures you will find in Ecuador. This tour will give you excellent background information on Ecuador and its people so that you will better understand the cultures as you pass through the various regions of Ecuador over the next six days.
After the visit of the Inti-ñan museum, you will be riding in the Northern Hemisphere. You will first pass through a dry desert canyon on a dusty dirt road that will bring you into a deep canyon. This area resembles the landscapes you would find in Arizona or the California desert. Then ride out of the canyon into a lush green patchwork of fields of vegetables, roses and dairy cattle. 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, climb in altitude on spectacular dirt back roads giving grand vistas of the serene farmlands and forests below. The wonderful aromoas of eucalyptus and pine forests will waft into your helmet.
Stop to add a layer of clothing as you 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 stands guard over it. This will be the first time you will be in the high-altitude paramo climate on this ride.
From there, ride down, through the colonial city of Otavalo, famous for its expansive indigenous market. Otavalo is known to have one of the most highly concentrated Native American populations in all of the Americas. You should stop here to view the various crafts, textiles and other unique colorful items for sale at the Plaza de los Ponchos.
You will finish the day'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. Have a delicious dinner alongside the lake and return to your cabin, warmed by a wood fireplace.
Distance Covered: 107 miles (90 miles offroad) / 172 km (144 km offroad)
After a full American buffet breakfast on the shore of Lake San Pablo, you will head to the town of Cotacachi, just north of Otavalo. Cotacachi is known for its leather artisans. You can stop here 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 you will ride through picturesque small towns and have another 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 (300 meters) deep and the native people believed it had no bottom, but was a tunnel to the Pacific Ocean.
This is a ride through very remote sections of Ecuador, on unimproved dirt roads with very little traffic. It will have incredible views of farmlands and natural forests. You will pass through remote villages that are rarely visited by outsiders.
You will descend into the scenic region of the Intag river. This region 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. The result is a rich, organic, robust coffee that is exported around the world.
Be sure to stop in the friendly town of Apuela. Here you can visit the Rio Intag Coffee Growers and see how they select the beans by hand and how they roast coffee. You may want to buy some of the local Rio Intag coffee to bring home to your friends and family.
After lunch, continue thedescent into the Intag valley and stop for a swim in the warm thermal waters at the Nangulvi thermal baths. This is an excellent place for lunch along the roaring Intag river.. This area of Ecuador is known for its abundant wildlife and bird species.
You'll turn onto a road that goes deep into the cloudforest and the Nono Biological Reserve, known as one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Have a refreshment break at the Bellavista Bird Lodge, a world famous bird watcher destination. You'll have an amazing show of many multi-colored hummingbirds, toucans and several other species of bird.
You will arrive in the cloudforest town of Mindo, known for its natural surroundings and fun atmosphere. We will visit the famous butterfly museum, with some of the most incredible species of butterflies on display. If you prefer chocolate to butterflies we can also visit the Quetzal to learn about organic chocolate growing and how cacoa is turned into chocolate. After this full day, you will check into the cozy Hotel Caskafessu for the night.
Mindo -Las Pampas-Sigchos-Chugchilan
Distance Covered: 133 miles (65 miles offroad) / 214 km (105 km offroad)
Once you leave Mindo, you will be riding on some of the most scenic paved roads in Ecuador. Passing through the cloudforest town of San Miguel de los Bancos, you wil take a newly paved road full of incredible switchnacks and hairpin turns. You will descend from about 7,000 feet in altitude to about 2,000 feet above sea level. There will be great changes in landscapes, temperature and climates as you descend, passing over some roaring rivers.
You will ride through a newly paved curvy country road with little traffic that passes through miles of chocolate, vegetable and coffee plantations. Then you will turn onto an unimproved dirt road with some challenging uphill climbs. We'll point you to a great little waterfall and swimming hole where you can take a little break from the warm weather at this altitude.
There are times when this road can get a bit muddy but the views and scents are out of this world. You pass through lush jungle, rainforest and then reach the small village of San Francisco de las Pampas. This town is in a very remote and secluded area of Ecuador and we are usually warmly greeted by the friendly townsfolk. We will stop here for a lunch before continuing our climb.
From las Pampas you will continue your climb, eventually reaching an altitude of about 13,000 feet in a completely different climate than just a few hours before Its chilly here and the views are absolutely stunning.. Wild alpaca and guinea pigs run freely. You will cross over a high altitude pass and you will feel like you are in airplane in its final descent as you roll down switchabacks with the town of Sigchos below you. Sigchos has been around for many centuries and was an Indigenous settlement and trading post long before it became a Spanish town in the 1530's.
From Sigchos, continue on Incan cobblestone that becomes an unimproved dirt road which is among the most scenic roads in all of Ecuador. This stretch of road is known as the "Quilotoa Loop" and draws backpackers and adventurers from afar for the idyllic pace of life and scenery.
You will finish your ride this day at the luxurious Mama Hilda's Hostel This family-run bed and breakfast will immediately make you feel as though you belong in the family. We will enjoy a homestyle Ecuadorian dinner of pots and pots of food. The President of Ecuador has stayed here on a few occasions and it is one of our favorite overnight stops.
Chugchilan-Quilotoa Crater Lake-Zumbahua-Angamarca-Salinas
Distance Covered: 107 miles (90 miles offroad) / 172 km (144 km offroad)
After a hearty breakfast at Mama Hilda's, head out again on the twisty roads of the Quilotoa Loop, passing through the charming mountain town of Chugchilan and, after another blissful hour's ride on stunning dirt roads, you will arrive at the awe-inspiring Quilotoa Crater Lake, which was formed after a catastrophic volcanic eruption about 800years ago and still has a strange, unusual blue-green color due to the minerals that bubbled in from the earth's core.
Then ride to Zumbahua on a recently paved road that will give great views of a fertile valley. Zumbahua is a farming town and on Saturdays has a farmers' market in the mornings so this would be a great place to stop and get some fresh fruits to snack on as you head towards the more remote regions of Ecuador.
After Zumbahua, you will once again be on unpaved dirt and gravel roads and through some of the most picturesque regions of Ecuador. We will rise through cloud forest, then into highlands pampa, where wild alpacas and llamas roam free. You will get to a height here of about 13,500 feet. Be prepared as the weather can change here quickly.
Then, you will pass through the quaint, charming little town of Angamarca. Angamarca means "Condor's Nest" in the native language, Quechua. This town will give you insight into the traditional life in Ecuador. Things haven't changed much in this town over the centuries. You will be met with lots of curious townspeople as few people ever pass through this town.
You'll ride along sheer cliffs that give astounding views of a valley several hundred feet below. The dirt road has a few small river crossings and very little traffic. You will continue the ride and descent along the Western Slopes, into the town of El Corazon - where they brew and bottle their own unique brand of strong liquer - an aquadiente that is flavored like bubblegum, coconut, pineapple or chocolate - this is pure 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 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 will feel as though you have ridden into a time warp.
Taking the dirt road out of Facundo Vela, you 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 you continue the climb.
We will cross a high mountain pass at around 13,000 feet before arriving in the village of Salinas de Guaranda. This town is unique and is a model for many communities in South America. It pulled itself out of extreme poverty with the help of a Swiss benefactor who taught them to make high quality cheeses from the local milk, using a cooperative economic model. With the goal of full employment and to keep their young people from leaving the village, they expanded the success of the cheese making operations into several other small industries such as making wool yarn, soccer balls and high quality chocolates, among others. Be sure to get a tour of this amazing village. At the Hostal La Minga you can warm yourself at the fireplace and be right in the center of the village.
Distance Covered: 75 miles / 121 km
You'll be pretty tired from yesterday's long ride and so you can sleep in a little this morning. Enjoy the clean mountain air in the village of Salinas. Salinas has an interesting history. Only a little over 40 years ago, most of its residents were peasants and had to work in the fields to pay tribute to the wealthy land owners. After the reforms that came in the early 1970's the people had control of their lands and they decided to form a cooperative town economy with the goals of full
employment and to better the standard of living for its residents. They learned to make cheese and chocolate from a Swiss philanthropist. With the succcess of their cheese and chocolate production, they no longer live in mud huts and they have expanded into other areas, with the townspeople votiing on what investments they should make and to share the profits. They now make soccer balls, herbal remedies and sevaral other products there.
The youth association will gladly give you a free tour of the town (we suggest tipping the guide) to show you the salt mines and all of the different economic activities that go on in this small town. Its fascinating and a great way to enjoy your visit in this unique town.
Back on the bike, you'll head back into the wilderness. You'll ride along the edge of a precipice that will give you 100 mile views of the clouds and landscapes below. You'll ride among small subsistence farmers with their pigs, donkeys and cows tied along the roadside. Chickens will cross the road for no apparent reason.
You'll pass through these high altitude Andean villages such as Gulag, Las Palmas and Matiabi Bajo. Each of the villages makes their own special Andean cheese from the fresh milk obtained by the farmers here. You can stop to see the small production facilities and even get a great snack of the fresh cheese. The townspeople here are very friendly and welcoming, as we motorcycle adventurers are the only ones ever to visit their villages.
We encourage our riders to bring small gifts of pencils, crayons, toothbrushes or other goodies for the kids here.
The air will get warmer as you descend into the rainforest. Lemon, orange and mandarin trees fill the air with new scents. There are several clear rivers where you can cool yourself off with a quick swim. Be sure to have your bathing suit ready (or not - there is not really anyone around).
You will end the day 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 and is known as Ecuador's "Chinatown." you should try Ecuador's best Chinese-Ecuadorian cuisine here before settling into the Hotel Olimpico for a great swim and a comfortable night's sleep.
Distance Covered: 153 miles (82 miles offroad) / 246 Km (132 km offroad)
From Quevedo you will climb back into the tropical rainforest region; first passing grand palm, banana and cacao plantations and then into coffee country. From the town of Velez, we will continue gaining in altitude and into another seldom visited part of Ecuador including the towns of Guasaganda and Pucayacu, with dairy and cattle farms. After passing through Pucuyacu, you will be faced with some of the most challenging portions of this ride (we saved them for last). On tight unpaved switchbacks, you will climb about 6,000 feet in just a few miles.
You will have incredible views all along the way of this fantastic region as you get higher and higher in altitude.
Then, you willl cross back into the town of Sigchos, which you passed on "Day 3" and complete the scenic "Quilotoa Loop" riding amazing roads of cobblestone with tremendous vistas in all directions.
Pass the famous market town of Saquisili (and stop there if it is a market day) and continue onto the Panamerican Highway, also known as the "Avenue of Volcanoes". We suggest that you stop for a final meal w at the famous Cafe de la Vaca before heading into Quito with a great adventure to tell your friends about...
Any departure date during the year - minimum only one rider - advanced reservations required.
- On a Yamaha XT250 $1795 USD
- On a Suzuki DR650: $1975 USD
- On a Kawasaki KLR650: $1975 USD
- On a Husqvarna Terra TR650: $2035 USD
- On a BMW G 650 GS: $2155 USD
- On a Yamaha Ténéré XT660: $2275 USD
- On a KTM 690 Enduro R: $2335 USD
- On a BMW F700GS: $2275 USD
- On a Husqvarna 701 Enduro: $2275 USD
- On a Triumph Tiger 800XC: $2335 USD
- On a BMW F800GS: $2335 USD
- On a Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L: $2395
- In a Volkswagen Amarok 4X4 5 Passenger Pickup Truck with Ironman Suspension: $2335 USD
- Passenger Pillion Charge: $775 USD (highly experienced offroad riders only)
- 2 bikes / shared room - contact us and tell us which bikes.
- Unlimited Mileage Motorcycle Rental (as described on our Rentals page)
- Saddlebags (Giant Loop Great Basin or AltRider Hemisphere)
- Tank bag (AltRider Hemisphere)
- Store your luggage in a locker in our office - bring your own padlock
- Pre-programmed Garmin Zumo GPS (contains the most up to date mapping of Ecuador provided by our partner, Garmin Ecuador)
- Road Book with maps, daily route sheets including points of interest, travel times and departure times
- Pre-tour debriefing
- 24 hour telephone support via pre-paid cell phone
- Emergency kit including spare inner tubes, tire repair kit, tire irons, tool set, spare clutch handle, first aid kit, pre-paid cell phone, etc.
- Use of riding gear (rain suits, boots, and jackets (sizes and availability limited - first come, first served)
- Single occupancy hotel accomodations
- 5 breakfasts, 3 dinners
- 25% discount on any riding gear from KLIM
- Post-tour special offers on video editing services and other gear from our partners.
- Souvenir T-Shirt
Prices do not include:
- Ecuador IVA tax (12%) (Ecuadorian Residents ONLY)
- Refundable secuirty deposit for motorcycle damage (see Rentals page for details)
- Tourists to Ecuador pay NO TAX!
- Hotel accomodations before and after the tour
- Entry fees to parks and tours