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A Lap of Luxury PDF Print E-mail



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A Lap of Luxury

A Motorcycle Tour of Ecuador's Best

(12 days / 11 nights)



The relatively small country of Ecuador packs in a considerable number of experiences and landscapes.  With some of the most dramatic roads on the planet, it’s no wonder why motorcyclists hail Ecuador as a paradise. Snowcapped volcanoes, glacial high altitude rainforests, pristine natural reserves, and aquamarine crater lakes lure nature lovers and adventurous spirits from all over the world.  The route includes two UNESCO world heritage cities and passes through  So whatever your passion, be it traditional food or adrenaline-pumping adventure, you can pursue it here.

The epic 1,294-mile route encompasses varied scenic landscapes, from mountain highs to palm-tree fringed lake towns to deep Amazon rainforest.





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

Distance Covered: 136 km / 85 miles

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. . We suggest you arrive a day or two early to experience this charming city and to get used to the altitude before your ride. Quito is set in a hollow at the foot of the active Pichincha Volcano (15,728 feet).  The  city's charm lies in its colonial center - the first place in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site - where cobbled streets are steep and narrow, dipping to deep ravines.   At night, the city is magic - with beautiful illuminated plazas and grandiose gold-laden churches.  We can provide you with bicycles or motorscooters to experience the city at its fullest.Quito_Ecuador_panoramica

INTINAN_EQUATOROn 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, and how to operate your pre-programmed GPS.  You will be provided a package that includes daily maps with points of interest and a pre-paid cell phone with instructions to call us for absolutely any reason along your trip.  We'll go over the route with you in detail and set up any special additional points of interest you may be interested in seeing.

The first day's ride is intended to give you a sampling of the different types of roads you will be riding to get you accustomed quickly to the riding conditions in Ecuador. . You will have a chance to ride on asphalt, unpaved (easy) farm road and a few miles of ancient cobblestone roads. This is not to challenge you or to push you - its so you become accustomed to your motorcycle quickly.

But first, getting out of Quito is a breeze. By taking the updated Occidental Highway, you will quickly be out of the city traffic and in the dry, desert like climate zone found in the northern area of the city.  You will already have descended over 1000 feet and the air will be warm and dry here.

Your first stop will be exactly in the middle of the world. The Inti-ñan museum is situated right smack-dab on the Equator. Inti-ñan means "path of the sun" in Quechua, a native language of Ecuador. Take the 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. Play with gravity here and perform some experiments to learn about the Coriolis effect, caused by the Earth's rotation. You will also get to know how the indigenous populations of Ecuador live and visit some typical homes. This tour will give you excellent background information on Ecuador so that you will better understand the various cultures as you pass through various regions of Ecuador over the next twelve days.

After the visit at the Inti-ñan museum, you will be riding in the Northern Hemisphere.  You can stop to visit Rumicocha - the ancient Inca military fort built on a pre-historic system of agricultural terraces.  Some researchers inist the location is mystical; others are vehemently opposed to making a big fuss -you can decide for yourself which side you are on.

Then, you will drop into a dry, desert canyon with landscapes that will remind you of Arizona or Californa deserts.  You'll cross a one-lane bridge over the roaring Guayllabamba river then ride up, and out, of the canyon into lush green patchwork of fields of vegetables, roses and dairy cattle.  These narrow, twisty roads have now brought you to the more isolated countryside where a dramatic change in pace from the city of Quito is obvious.  Its amazing you are only just a few miles out of the city; you'll feel like you are already in some parallel universe.cobblestone_road                                                                              

The village of Perucho's town square features a simple, traditional restaurant serving up the local specialties - roasted guinea pig, San Cocha pork stew and the local tangerine wine.   Continue your climb through agricultural lands growing roses and various vegetables.  Stop in the charming little town of San José de Minas with its beautiful stone church and well-manicured central park. Here, Ecuadorian cowboys or gauchos are often seen rdiing horses in town from the local farmlands. This is just your first taste of the remarkable diversity of terrains, cultures and climates that you will experience on this ride.

From San José de Minas, climb in altitude on back roads giving grand vistas of the serene farmlands and forests below. You will experience great aromas as you pass through eucalyptus and pine forests. From there, ride down cobbled switchbacks and enter the land of the Otavaleños - a thriving, prosperous group, famous through the centuries for their textiles and weavings.  

otavalenaTheir typical outfits make Otavaleños easily recognizable.  "They walk, sit and stand with exquisite grace." wrote Ludwig Bemelmans in the early 20th century.  Women traditionally wear elaborately embroidered blouses with a shawl that wards off the sun or carries babies. Necklaces of gold or colored beads are worn around the neck and their long, black hair is tied back in a single braid.  Men wear their hair long and braided - often to the waist as an important symbol of their roots and inherited wisdom.  Wool ponchos are worn in all types of weather over white, calf-length pants and rope sandals.  A fedora hat tops it all off.

Otavalo is one of South America's most important centers of Native American culture and its Saturday market is world-reknowned. The Plaza de los Ponchos is not to be missed - this textile and craft market is open every day and provides the authentic, immersive market experience that draws visitors from around the world.

The communities that surround Otavalo are connected by a network of beautiful natural cobblestone roads.  You'll take one out of town and stop to visit the Ñanda Mañachi musical instrument workshop.  This family crafts traditional musical instruments, including panpipes, charangos and 10-stringed mandolin-like instruments traditionally made from armadillo shells.  They'll be happy to play the instruments for you, performing songs that they have been singing for generations.

Continue on the network of cobbled roads to the west side of peaceful Lake San Pablo.  you'll pass through villages where you will see wool dyed in buckets along the rivers or hanging on clothes lines to dry.  You will ride around the Imbabura volcano, known as the father spirit by Otavaleños and head into its foothills.  A twisty ribbon of pavement will take you to over the eastern flank of the volcano and into the idyllic valley of Hacienda Zuleta.surroundings-011

Hacienda Zuleta is a hotel, but more importantly, a real working farm owned by the same family for generations.  And not just any family.  The Plaza family are often referred to as the "Kennedys of Ecuador" - as various family members have held high office or played important roles in the country's history over the centuries.  Fernado Plaza has led his family's foray into the world of tourism with skill and passion.  His grandmother, a famous hostess, wouldn't let a guest leave the hacienda "until they were totally happy."  And this Plaza spirit to make each of their guests feel at ease, at home, lives on today through Fernando and the rest of the extended family.  It is that sense of entering a family home that makes a stay at Zuleta so special.hacienda_zuleta_room

At Zuleta there are workshops that produce embroidery that is worn by the President of Ecuador and another that produces hand-made leather saddles that are exported all over the world.  At Zuleta, Andean life goes on all around you and you become part of the farm.  There are cows that need to be milked every morning for their cheese making enterprise and organic vegetables that are harvested each day and incorporated into their meals. These all compliment your experience in ways that few haciendas in Ecuador can






Day 2
Angochagua - Cayambe - Papallacta

Distance Covered :  128 km / 80 miles

To your left, 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. You will ride across the equator once again and continue your ride in the southern hemisphere, passing warm valleys bursting with orchards and rose plantations.

Turn east off the Panamericana and stop to add a layer of clothes. You'll be riding steeply up to the Papallacta Pass at 4064 meters (13,350 feet).  From here, cross the Paramo de Papallacta grasslands and view the high altitude, trout paradise, Lake Campucocha. Here, you have crossed the continental divide and now you'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.  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 in 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 towards the Amazon, just like you are.

The road drops again in elevation.  The vegetation gets thicker and greener while the air becomes heavier with occasional wisps of steam.  You'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 ofPuerto 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.

From Misahualli, you head further east,  and park your bike in the jungle at the Hamadryade Lodge where you will enjoy a comfortable private cabin that is surrounded by the sounds of the jungle and the roaring Napo River. You'll enjoy a delicious gourmet dinner here (included).



Day 3
Papallacta - Baeza - Puerto Misahualli

Distance Covered: 144 km / 90 miles



Day 4
Puerto Misahualli - Puyo - Baños

Distance Covered: 159 km / 99 miles




Day 5
Rest Day in Baños


Day 6

Baños - Riobamba - Atillo Lakes - Macas

Distance Covered: 256 km / 159 miles


Day 7

Macas - Paute - Chordeleg - Cuenca

Distance Covered: 297 km / 185 miles



Day 8

Cuenca - Cajas National Park - Guayaquil

Distance Covered: 191 km / 119 miles


Day 9

Guayaquil - Colimes - Jipijapa - Puerto Cayo

Distance Covered: 241 km / 150 miles



Day 10

Rest Day in Puerto Cayo


Day 11

Puerto Cayo - Canoa - Pedernales - Valle Hermoso

Distance Covered: 382 km / 237 miles


Day 12

Valle Hermoso - Mindo - Quito

Distance Covered: 161 km / 100 miles