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Inca Roads

A 10-day Guided Motorcycle Adventure (Paved)

Overview:

The Inca reigned over South America before the arrival of the Spanish and were some of the best road builders in history.  When their empire expanded from Peru into Ecuador in the early 1500’s, they built impressive cities, fortresses, burial grounds and temples connected by an extensive system of paved roads and suspension bridges known as the “Qhapaq Nan”.  These roads were of such high quality that large stretches of them are still intact to this day and were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014.  The Qhapaq Nan road system was a unique achievement of engineering skills as it passed through varied geographical terrains, including the snow-capped mountain ranges of the Andes, rainforests, fertile valleys and stark deserts.

In recent years Ecuador has rivaled the Incan Empire in road building.  The country has the highest investment of GDP in road construction in all of the Americas and this has resulted in the creation of thousands of miles of newly paved and properly cambered roads.  

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On this exhilirating tour we'll follow in the footsteps of the Inca and explore many of Ecuador's national parks and wildlife areas.  You'll experience Ecuador's mega-diversity of terrains, climates, and cultures as we ride through the Amazon Jungle and various altitudes of the Andes mountains.  You will have the opportunity to visit rich cultural areas such as the famous markets in Otavalo, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cuenca, and the traditional vilages of Salinas de Guaranda and Alausi.

Above all, this tour includes some of the best motorcycle rouds in South America.  You'll tackle the twisties around active volcanoes, ride the altiplanos at 14,500 feet, carve through deep river canyons and go deep into the Amaozn jungle.  

 

Features:

  • 10 Days / 9 nights (with one rest day)
  • Total Distance Covered: approximately 1865 km / 1160 miles
  • Average distance per day : 207 km / 129 miles of twisty Andean roads
  • Altitude: from 1000 feet to 14,500 feet  (300 meters to 4.500 meters)
  • 97% asphalt road / 3% dirt or cobblestone roads
  • The best roads in Ecuador- only the most scenic and safest routes are taken.
  • 3-5 star hotel accomodations including unique luxury hacienda and boutique hotel accomodations
  • Single occupancy (your own private hotel room)
  • Experienced, LOCAL RESIDENT multilingual tour guide (you will be shown an insider's view of the country).
  • All 100% inclusive price including all meals, gasoline and entrance fees to parks and attractions.
  • Chase vehicle (for groups of 5+ riders).
  • minimum particpants: 1 (guaranteed departure)
  • maximum riders: 10 (keeps things fun and easy)

Highlights:

  • Otavalo - with one of the largest and most colorful indigenous markets in South America
  • Amazon Jungle expedition with motorized canoe
  • Baños - a charming spa town with thermal baths and waterfalls
  • Nariz del Diablo Train Ride - one of the world's great feats of railway engineering
  • Ingapirca - Ecuador's best preserved Inca ruins exhibit the hallmarks of the empire's architecture
  • Colonial Cuenca - the pristine colonial architecture, cobbled streets, and flowering plazas of this UNESCO world heritage city
  • Chimborazo National Wildlife Refuge - view the rare and protected wild vicuña
  • Sangay National Park - rugged scenery, high paramo lakes and pristine wilderness
  • Salinas de Guaranda - an alpine village known for its chocolates, wool and Swiss cheeses
  • Laguna Quilotoa - high altitude volcanic caldera with strange blue-green waters


cobblestone_road_to_mojanda

Day 1
Quito- Inti'ñan - San José de Minas - Laguna de Mojanda - Otavalo

Distance Covered: 116 miles / 186 km 

You’ll begin your tour 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 center in all of Latin America. We suggest you arrive a day or two early to experience this amazing town and to get used to the altitude before your ride.  Quito was the second capital of the Inca Empire after Cusco, Peru and the  

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, etc.san_jose_de_minas_pichincha

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 and just a few miles of ancient Incan cobblestone roads. This is not to challenge you or to push you - its so we may determine your riding level and so that you become accustomed to your motorcycle quickly.  

Our 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. 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. We will also get to know how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live and visit some typical homes. This tour will give you some excellent background information on Ecuador so that you will better understand the cultures as we pass through various regions of Ecuador over the next ten days.

After the visit at the Inti-ñan museum, we will be riding in the Northern Hemisphere. We will first pass through a dry desert canyon that will bring us into a deep canyon. We will then ride out of the canyon into lush green patchwork of fields of vegetables, roses and dairy cattle. We'll stop in the charming little town of San José de Minas with its beautiful stone church and well-manicured central park.  This will be your first taste of the remarkable diversity of terrains and climates that you will experience on this ride.

Mojanda_LakeFrom San José de Minas we will climb in altitude on back roads giving us grand vistas of the serene farmlands and forests below. We will experience great aromas as we pass through eucalyptus and pine forests.

We will stop to add a layer of clothing as we ride up to a height of over 12,000 feet (3714 meters) to view the majestic Mojanda Lake surrounded by the Fuya-Fuya volcano which guards the lake. This will be the first time we will be in the high-altitude paramo climate.

From there, we will ride down through the colonial city of Otavalo, famous for its expansive indigenous market. 

We will finish today's ride enjoying the local music and delicious local fare at the 300 year old Haciienda Pinsaqui - one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador and famous as the site of the Pinsaqui Treaty which brought lasting peace with neighboring Colombia.

 

Amazon_River_Canoe

Day 2
Otavalo - Papallacta - Baeza - Itamandi Amazon Lodge

Distance Covered :  295 Km / 183 miles

After a hearty breakfast of fresh juices, baked breads and eggs, we'll start the day by riding to the indigenous market in Otavalo.  For hundreds of years, the indigenous people have brought their animals, crafts and produce down from the surrounding hills to sell in the market here. Don't worry - this market has very little to do with typical knick-knacks and tourist dollars. This is the real thing.  We'll witness the frenxy of the animal market - one of the most authentic experiences you'll find anywhere.  We'll also have time to explore the Plaza de los Ponchos- a maze of hanging tapestries, weavings and handmade garments.  A second animal section of the market deals with fowl, cuyes (guuinea pigs), rabbits, puppies and kittens.

1-Court_at_Otavalo_Market-001From Otavalo, we'll head down the Panamericana Highway, rolling past pastoral green dairy farms and through dense forests.  To our left, we will catch a glimpse of the Volcan Cayambe, the highest point in the world on the equator and the only place where the line between the hemispheres crosses snow. We'll ride across the equator once again and continue our ride in the southern hemisphere, passing warm valleys bursting with orchards and rose plantations.

We'll turn east off the Panamericana and stop to add a layer of clothes. We'll be riding steeply up to the Papallacta Pass at 4064 meters (13,350 feet).  From here, we'll cross the Paramo de Papallacta grasslands and view the high altitude trout paradise, Lake Campucocha. Here, we have crossed the continental divide and now we'll start descending onto the Eastern Slopes.  Grandiose waterfalls of several hundred feet tower over the road in several spots and will inspire pure awe.  We'll see the four peaks of the Antisana Volcano peep through the clouds to the south as the air begins to warm and the humidity begins to rise.1-volcan_cayambe

Once we reach the cloudforest town of Baeza, rolling pastoral landscapes take over which are banked by steep hillsides.  The road becomes a series of twisty curves that float above the roaring Papallacta river - whose waters are heading briskly to the Amazon, just like us.

We will come down through the foothills of the Andes and the road drops again in elevation.  The vegetation gets thicker and greener while the air becomes heavier with occasional wisps of steam.  We're now in the Amazon basin and an area specifically known for its abundant condors and rare birds, such as the black-billed mountain toucan.

Further along, we'll pass through the whitewater kayaking capital of Tena and cross a narrow bridge at Puerto Napo.  We'll follow the Rio Napo eastward and stop in the town of Puerto Misahualli. This jungle town is the western-most navigable port in the Amazon network of rivers.  It is possible to take a boat from here to the Atlantic ocean..  We'll stay here long enough to have a little fun with the town's most famous residents - a congress of monkeys that love to tease the local tourists and dogs.

mike_reina_in_amazon_lodgeFrom Misahualli, we head further east,  deeper into the jungle and park our bikes in a barn for the night.  We'll transfer our luggage and gear into a long motorized canoe and begin our trip a few miles even further into the jungle,  now completely away from roads and 'civilization'.  We'll jump out of the canoe at the luxurious, yet ecologically sustainable Itamandi Lodge. This unique hotel offers additonal activities, including a cultural visit to a Kichwa community, where you can attend the presentation of folkloric dances with the children of the community, educational treks through primary forests, night walks, a visit to the wild parakeet clay lick, bird watching, floating down the Arajuno River on tubes, production of artisan chocolate and more. Or you can just enjoy a laid-back respite in  the open-air hotel area with pool, full service bar and relaxation zone. Across the river sits the famed scientific research station Jatun Sacha.  Here there are about 800 species of butterflies and hundreds of species of trees.  You'll sleep well with the sounds of the jungle around you.

 

road_from_banos_to_puyo

Day 3
Itamandi - Puyo - Paillon del Diablo - Baños

Distance Covered: 161 km / 100 miles

We'll wake up to the scents and sounds of the Amazon jungle and enjoy a buffet breakfast before setting out in a canoe for an expedition in the jungle with a native guide.  We will learn about the many different species of plants, birds, i nsects and animals in the jungle as well as their traditional and medicinal uses.  We'll float back to the lodge in innertubes enjoying the tranquility of river life before we pack up and return to our motorcycles via canoe.

We will head south, skirting alongside the dense vegetation of the jungle and continue to the town of Puyo where we will turn west to begin our climb back up the Eastern Slopes.Screen_Shot_2014-05-015  We'll be riding in a deep gorge cut out by the powerful Rio Pastaza (a tributary to the Amazon) which will get narrower and narrower as we ascend.  This road has been dubbed the "Ruta de las Cascadas" for the many waterfalls that tumble from the green valley walls.  Many of them fall right overhead from overhanging rocks.  

paillon_del_diabloThe vegetation is luxuriant and exotic with the scent of numerous wild orchids that will fill your helmet   We'll stop to visit the Paillon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron) falls which are a thundering set of waerfalls that we will view from a beautfiul set of steps.  It is a very impressive display of mother nature's awesome power. 

We'll continue our climb up the eastern slopes on the bikes and stop next for a real thrill.   We'll tie into a zip line and cross a 200 foot chasm head-first across for about a half a mile canyon straight into the Agoyan waterfalll.  It feels like you have grown wings and become a bird.  There is also a cable car if you want to do this at a slower pace!

Once we have reached an altitude of about 6,000 feet (1850 m), we will be in the resort town of Baños, at the base of the active Tungarahua Volcano.  Baños was settled in 1553 and enjoys a warm, subtropical climate and is nestled among soaring green hills that are lined with waterfalls. erupting_tungurahua

Volcan Tungarahua (meaning "throat of fire") rises above the town at 5053 meters (about 16,500 feet) and erupts frequently. These mild erouptions provide a exuberant display of pyroclastic flows and ash which we can view from the hills above the town.  

We'll check into the cozy and firendly Posada del Arte Hotel and walk a block up the street to soak ourselves in the volcanic baths that make this town famous.  There are various pools of different temperatures and sizes. One is so hot that it will leave a red mark around you like a cooked lobster once you get out.   These baths are a great way to relax after a day of excittement and excellent riding.  We'll have dinner in one of the town's cosmopolitan restaurants.

 

altiplano_near_alausi

Day 4
Baños - Penipe - Riobamba - Alausi

Distance Covered: 143 km - 89 miles

Today's ride is going to be absolutely beautiful  but not so long, so we'll have some time in the morning to do an activity in Baños such as canyoning, hiking, horseback riding or just taking a little extra time to go shopping and exploring the town. We'll pack up the bikes at around noon and head out of town, taking the route that crawls around the base of the mighty Volcan Tungaarahua.Patate-Tungarahua-Erupting.gif

This road is often closed and portions of it are not able to be paved due to the constant seismological activity and geological shifting that occurs here.  There is about 5 miles of unpaved section comprised of packed black volcanic ash that we will cross with care.  

From there, we will follow the Chambo River valley and the landscapes will alternate between deep green pastoral lands and dense eucalyptus and pine forests.  We'll pass several orchards and scenic agricultural villages as we climb out of the valley and into the city of Riobamba.

above_alausiRiobamba is a colonial city with pastel buildings and well groomed parks and squares.  We'll ride through the city's cobbestone streets and head out on a back road leading to breathtaking pastoral lands tended by shepherds and dairy farmers. The serpentine road leads past a region of green pastures and cool waters flowing in rivers dropping from the mountains above.  

We'll re-join the Panamericana Highway again in the town of Guamote and ride in the cool air of the altiplano at 11,500 feet.  To the left, we'll ride by the high-altitude Palmira desert, which was once the fastest growing desert in the world, but has been contained thanks to an effective environmental campaign and reforestation efforts.   It is a stunningly beautiful yet rare landscape.alausi

We'll downshift and enter a series of switchbacks that lead to the town of Alausi. Alausi is in a round valley and encircled by steep hills.  The town has an old-world feel to it, much like a southern European town, with narrow cobblestone streets and colorful adobe houses.  The town's activities center around the railroad tracks (we'll see why tomorrow) and we'll settle into the town's most comfortable hotel, the Hosteria La Quinta which has lvoely balconies overlooking the city below.  

 

 

 

 

10cuenca-ecuadoro

Day 5

Alausi - Nariz del Diablo - Ingapirca - Cuenca

Distance Covered: 184 Km / 114 miles (not including train ride)

We will pack a lot of fantastic experiences and amazing riding into today so we will start with a filling breakfast.  We will first walk a block away to the train station and board the train bound for the "Nariz del Diablo" (Devil's Nose).

devils_nose_train_in_ecuadorWhen the Ecuadorian railroad was built in the early 1900's, this section of track was known as the  "most difficult railway in the world."  It is an amazing feat of engineering indeed.  At one point the train will descend over 3,000 feet, having to move backwards and then forwards as it descends the steep switchbacks.  The train will let us off in the town of Sibambe, where will visit the condor museum there,  and see these powerful birds close -up.  Then we ride the train back to Alausi and get ready for an astounding ride through the southern Ecuadorian Andes.

As we head south down this lonesome stretch of the Panamericana Highway, we'll see some profound changes in the landscape.  The rugged, sharp peaks and snow-capped volcanoes of the North will give way to softer, greener and tamer lower elevations.  The climate and terrain is also a little drier here.  Until just a few years ago, this stretch of the Panamericana Highway was in very poor shape which isolated this section of the country for many years.  We can still witness these effects as we ride through virtually uninhabited countryside. The whole region feels very far away and strikingly different from the North of Ecuador.  The motorcycle riding here is some of the best you'll find on the entire Panamericana (which stretches from Alaska to Ushuia in Argentina).  This is brand-new pavement and the seemingly endless curves and vistas will be an afternoon delight for sure.sherry_at_solar_temple

The little town of Tambo was an ancient Chasqui (Inca courrier) way station on the Inca Royal Road between Cusco and Quito. We'll turn off  here from Panamericana Highway and into the traditional lands of the Cañari people.  The Cañari are particularly noted for their resistance against the Inca Empire.  Eventually conquered by the Inca shortly before the arrival of the Spanish, the Cañari would later ally with the Spanish against the Inca.  The landscapes here are astounding with rolling patchwork fields that are still to this day tended to by animal - not machine - power. In many ways a ride through this region is a throwback to another simpler, healthier time. We'll see many Cañari dressed in brightly colored ponchos and white felt bowlers

cows_in_field_near_ingapircaThe meandering road leads to Ingapirca, which is the best preserved Inca site in Ecuador.  Constructed during the Inca expansion into Ecuador in the late 15th century, the site had been previously occupied by the Cañari people for more than 500 years. The vast ruins here include the Temple of the Sun, and remains largely intact. It is composed of an immense oval-shaped platform whose slightly inward-tapering walls are made of superbly carved blocks of stone, fitted together with enigmatic precision.  The site exhibits other architectural emblems of the Inca empire such as trapezoidal doorways and exquisite stonework that are usually reserved for ceremonial temples.  We will get a brief tour of the site that will reveal the fascinating history of this region and the ancient empire.

From Ingapirca, we'll continue down this magnificent stretch of the Panamericana, through the towns of Cañar, Biblian and Azoques which all feature gothic temples and churches that sit righteously above the highway. And, although they were defeated by the Inca, the Canari culture lives on.  Passing through paramo and then thick forests, the road brings us to the city of Cuenca.cuenca_to_ingapirca_road

canari_peopleCuenca is Ecuador's most beautiful and charming city.  The UNESCO World Heritage City features narrow, cobblestone streets, melodious houses with balconies and flowery interior courtyards, and lots of churches and monasteries built of precious stone.  It was founded by the Spanish in 1557 on the site of Tomebamba - a city established by the Inca in 1470 which was said to have rivalled Cusco in Peru with its pomp and majesty.

We'll check into a magnificently restored 19th century mansion which is now the Casa de Aguila Hotel, right in the colonial centre of Cuenca.  We'll have a stroll around the centre of this city, visiting the Catedral Vieja - a cathedral built in 1557 and the Parque Calderon, as well as the famous flower market.  Cuenca offers an outstanding choice of fine restaurants, and we'll choose from a wide variety of cuisines to celebrate the end of a fantastic day..

 

 

road_from_cuenca_to_macas

Day 6
Cuenca - Paute - Sucua - Macas

Distance Covered: 247 Km / 154 miles

After a delightful buffet breakfast, we'll pack up our bikes and ride through Cuenca on its cobblestone streets and depart the city, heading east.  The road will first bring us past fantastic rock outcroppings and then drop down into a warmer, greener valley..  The valley is replete with fruit orchards, flower plantations and orchid nurseries.  This is a newly paved road and this beautiful valley is becoming a popular place for Cuencanos to buy their weekend homes.  

We'll ride along the pleasant Rio Cutilcay which brings us to the town of Paute.  Paute is a beautiful town with a well manicured central park.  The town is famous for its fruit and you can pick up a great jar of jam from the town to bring home.

Hombre_ShuarFrom here, we'll climb again in altitude before descending into the Amazonian town of Sucua, the major home and center of the Shuar people.  "Shuar" in the Shuar language means people. But the Shuar refer to Spanish-speakers as apach, and to non-Spanish/non-Shuar speakers as inkis. Europeans and European Americans used to refer to Shuar as jívaros or jíbaros; this word probably derives from the 16th century Spanish spelling of "shuar", but has taken other meanings including "savage"; outside of Ecuador,  The Shuar were largely left undisturbed by the Inca for good reason.  

The Spanish, in their quest for gold, tried to colonize them.  When they tried to impose taxation and laws, they became deeply angered and attacked a Spanish outpost, killing thousands of settlers.  The Spanish Governor was then killed by having molten gold poured down his throat until his bowels burst - their attempt at poetic justice.  Most recently, the Shuar continued their culture of being great warriors in the war with Peru in 1995, where they consistently outwitted the Peruvians.  They have only very recently been integrated into Ecuadorian society and this area of the Amazon, protected by the Shuar is one of the most pristine parts of the jungle in Ecuador.

The Shuar are famous for shrinking the heads (Tzantzas) of their enemies, which ceased some 2 generations ago, the process evolved to take revenge from the bewitchment of the enemy over others as well as serving as a warning to any would be future attackers and predators.  We'll have a stop in the center of town.  Members of the older generation can still be seen with their facial tribal tattoos, although the younger generation has taken to wearing jeans and t-shirts...

We'll continue our ride passing a display of waterfalls on all sides of us and arrive in the town of Macas.  Macas is a very orderly and clean town with very friendly people.  We'll settle into the extraordinarily unique and friendly Mansion de la Amazonia Resort for a two night stay of relaxation and fun.

 

hotel_mansion_de_la_amazonia_macas

Day 7
Rest Day in Macas

Distance Covered: 0 km / 0 miles

Today is a day for relaxation and activity.  The Mansion de la Amazonia Hotel offers two swimming pools, a private stocked fishing lake with canoe, jacuzzi, sauna, and hiking trails that lead to fantastic waterfalls.  We also have the opporrunity to explore another area of the Amazon jungle, visit a local Shuar tribe (a brief course on etiquette is required before visiting).  There is also the possibility (for about $100 each) of taking a private plane deep into the jungle for a fishing expedition deep in the jungle, far from roads and cities.  Please ask us for more details.

 

 

vstrom_chimbo

Day 8
Macas - Sangay National Park- Chimborazo National Wildlife Refuge - Salinas de Guaranda

Distance Covered: 256 Km / 159 miles

Today's ride will take us through a wide variety of terrains and changing climates, so you will need to be prepared with extra layers of clothes and a heavy set of gloves.  We'll set out of Macas, heading west to enter the Sangay National Park on pristine new tarmac.  The government had been promising to create this road for the past 111 years- and it was just completed in 2014.  There had been a lot of controversy about bringing vehicles into what is considered one of the most beautiful natural areas of Ecuador.

cascada_guamote_macas_roadWe're very happy they built this road - and you will see why! It starts out, in the lower elevations, with a show of several dramatic waterfalls and provides the perfect cambering in the many curves we ride as we climb in altitude.  We'll pass into the cloudforest and through the small town of Zuñac- with very friendly residents.  

Vicuna_in_Chimborazo_NWR

From Zuñac, we'll start climbing again - with more dramatic tumbling waterfalls to entertain us as we twist and turn.  The forest will start to give way to a windswept paramo and we will come upon the absolutely stunning Lagunas de Atillo. The ancient natives of this region, the Puruháe people used to drown their convicted criminals in the icey waters.  The lakes are framed by jagged, pointy peaks.  We'll definitely be stopping here for some photos.

We'll descend a bit in elevation to arrive in a patchwork of bright and dark green fields interpersed betwen cold flowing brooks.  Here the people are raising sheep and the scenery is stunning.  We'll come through a dusty little town of Calaceda and turn to the west to re-join the Panamerican Highway north.  We'll pass the Laguna de Colta from which the local women gather the reeds and sell baskets alongside the road. We'll stop to see the Balbanera Church, said to be the first chapel the Conquistadors raised in 1534.  It still has carvings of angels and gargoyles and makes a great photo with the snow-capped Chimborazo mountain behind it.1-chimborazo

We'll turn west again and begin rising into highlands paramo,climbing the base of the Chimborazo Mountain.  With permanent glaciers at its peak, Chimborazo is the highest point in Ecuador and is the highest point on Earth.  This is because the Earth bulges at the Equator and Chimborazo's peak is the furthest piece of land from Earth's core.

The road we take crosses through the Chimborazo National Wildlife Refuge, home to thousands of wild vicuña, the smaller lighter faster cousin of the llama and camel.  Ecuador has one of the best protected vicuña populations in the world and we will be sure to see these majestic creatures as we wind around the gigantic mountain.  We'll reach an altitude of over 14,500 feet (4.500 meters) and here, the weather is unpredictable.  Be ready for bright sunshine, freezing rain, hail or even snow!  

salinas_de_guarandaWe'll descend from this high altitude and ride into the Guaranda valley and turn to the west again on a twisty road that winds through deep green pastures.  We'll arrive in the alpine town of Salinas (photo left), a grouping of colorful homes near the foot of a vertical wall of rock, surrounded by rolling fields and plains. Salinas is so named because it has a natural spring that brings forth water with the perfect combination of iodized salt, known for its healthful qualities.  

We'll check into the basic but comfortable "El Refugio" hotel and grab some dinner made with the town's most famous products - cheeses and sausage. The evenings will be a bit chilly as we are at an altitude of 11,500 feet, so we'll warm ourselves around the fire in the hotel and meet the other guests before sleeping in this tranquil setting.

 

 

 

 

 

Quilotoa_Lake

Day 9
Salinas de Guaranda - Tigua - Laguna de Quilotoa - Chugchilán

Distance Covered: 234 Km / 145 miles

We'll wake up in the high altitude town of Salinas and have a great breakfast of fresh cheeses, eggs and juice.  We'll get a tour of this unique town and learn about its amazing history.  Until 1971, the town lived under feudal law - the men worked in the fields and had to pay tribute to the land owner.  This changed with land reform signed into law by President Cordova (who was assasinated soon thereafter).  

A Swiss philanthropist came to help pull the town out of poverty and to the point is today with full employment and a prospering economy.. His foundation created a cooperative economy and provided the locals with training, materials. technical support and bank loans.  They imported machinery from the closed mills in Massachusetts.  It transformed the lives of the local sheep owners who had previously sold raw wool to middlemen for a pittance.  They began to manufacturer their own wool and sell it directly to manufacturers for a much better profit.  With this success, the town turned to making cheeses, importing Swiss cheese making technology.  Now they were able to turn the locally produced milk into the tastiest cheeses in the Andes. Similar expansion of the town's exonomy has happened with other activities such as producing chocolate and soccer balls.   We will spend an hour or so visiting this town and learning about its inspiring rags to riches story.

road_out_of_salinas_de_guarandaWe'll head out of Salinas and ride back into the heights surrounding Chimborazo at about 14,000 feet, and descend along another of the best roads in Ecuador which takes us through a deep gorge of a whitewater river.  The gorge starts out very narrow but as we continue our desent, the gorge becomes wider and wider.  This is a protected ecological zone, so the traffic is limited and we usually have the road to ourselves.  

We'll skirt around the city of Ambato and head north to the city of Latacunga. We'll turn here on the route that is known as one of Ecaudor's most scenic - The Quilotoa Loop.  The road first leads to the town of Pujillí, with a beautiful central1-chimborazo_mountain park and church.  From here, we'll climb higher and higher, with stunning views of Latacunga and the valley below.  As we continue to climb to over 13,000 feet, the temperature will drop sharply and we will soon find ourselves in a dramatic open landscape of highlands paramo.  We'll see the traditional homes made of mud adobe and thatch roofs, called chozas.

We will visit the art gallery in Tigua, which is famous and displays the work of local artists.  The works include painted hides, ceremonial masks and paintings depicting daily life in this region.  Tigua is a beautiful village comprised of tiled roofs against a dramatic setting of steep hills and cliffs.  From Tigua, we'll roll downhill into the small town of Zumbahua.  We'll visit the market there and get a snack of fresh empanadas.

road_to_zumbahuaWe'll then ride to the Laguna Quilotoa.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 (don't worry it is very easy to ride) will wind through some incredibly picturesque countryside along jagged cliffs.  We arrive at our destination for today, the small village of Chugchilan.  It is home to about a dozen families, a cheese maker and a women's knitting cooperative.  We will stay for the night at Mama Hilda's Hostel in the center of the village, where the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has stayed on a few occasions.   The hostel will serve an enormous, homestyle Ecuadorian dinner of pots and pots of food.  They also have horses that  you can ride in the surrounding countryside if we arrive early..

 

1-cotopaxi

Day 10
Chugchilán - Sigchos - Saquisilí - Quito

 

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...

Distance Covered: 161 Km / 100 miles

We will enjoy a hearty Mama Hilda's breakfast  with fresh fruits and juices and then head out on the road. .We will continue on unpaved (not difficult) road until wereach 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.   According to legend, this stretch of road is where the last Incan King - Atahualpa - was captured by the Spanish.  We will wind down through some dizzying switch-backs, climbing first in elevation across high altitude plains and then descending into the town of Saquisilli.  Saquisilli is famous for its enormous indigenous market.front_two_vstroms

near_saquisilliFrom 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.  In fact, eight out of 10 of Ecuador's highest peaks are located on this highway.

 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 "Inca Roads" 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...

 

Tour Dates:

Please see our Tour Calendar for a complete listing of our scheduled tours.

  • 13 February 2015
  • 04 June 2015
  • 09 October 2015

 

(If you do not see a convenient date,  please contact us to see if we can arrange a new tour date!)

Prices:

On a Honda XL200: $4,200

On a Suzuki DR200: $4,200

On a Suzuki DR650: $4,500

On a Kawasaki KLR650: $4,500

On a Husqvarna TE 630: $4,500

On a Husqvarna Terra TR650: $4,600

On a Suzuki V-Strom DL650: $4,900

On a BMW G 650 GS: $5,000

On a BMW F700 GS: $5,100

On a Triumph Tiger 800XC: $5,290

On a BMW F800GS: $5,290

On a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS: $5,100

Passenger Pillion Charge: $3,050 (double occupancy)

Available Discounts:

Sign up an additional rider - get $200 off your price!

Sign up two additional riders - get $500 off!your price!

Each addtional rider 3+ - get $300 each off your price!

support_truck

Prices Include:

  • Unlimited Mileage Motorcycle Rental (includes SOAT insurance, helmet, gloves)
  • Saddlebags or hard luggage system
  • Support Vehicle
  • Bottled water
  • Use of UClear helmet-to-helmet communication system
  • Experienced, local Ecuadorian resident, multilingual tour guide (you won't find this anywhere else!)
  • Single occupancy in luxury hacienda, boutique hotel, 3-5 star hotel accomodations (best botel in town)
  • All meals on riding days 
  • Tolls
  • All Gasoline & Oil
  • Hike with native guide in Amazon jungle, entrance fees to Intinan Solar Museum, all entries to parks and museums listed
  • Nariz del Diablo Train Ride
  • Colloborative group video professionally edited by VideoTov (groups of 4+ riders)
  • Pre-tour 25% discount on high quality riding gear from KLIM
  • Souvenir T-Shirt

You do NOT have to pull your wallet out on any of our guided tours!

 
Prices do not include:

 

  • Alchoholic beverages
  • Ecuador IVA (sales) tax (12% ) FOR ECUADORIAN RESIDENTS ONLY
  • NO TAX FOR TOURISTS TO ECUADOR!
  • Hotel accomodations before and after the tour in Quito
  • Lunch and dinner on rest day
  • Optional Amazon fishing expedition (involves a short flight on a small passenger plane and fishing guide with canoe  - pricing depends on number of participants)

 

 

 

How to 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.  Or, just click the button below and fill out the simple form.

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.