Backroads of Ecuador Print
backroads-of-Ecuador-Tour-Route

Backroads of Ecuador

A 10-day Guided Adventure on Ecuador's Best Paved Backroads

 

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Overview:

This ride is designed to take you on Ecaudor's best paved roads and to enjoy some of its most unique and luxurious lodging available in the country.   The ride explores the three distinct "worlds' of continental Ecuador - the Andes - the Amazon and the Pacific Coast.

The tour includes several off-bike activities as well including the hot springs at Papallacta, a motorized canoe expedition in the Amazon jungle with a native guide, zip lines across the Pastaza River, surfing in the Pacific and a traditional cleansing ceremony by the Tsachilla Tribe of the Ecuadorian Rainforest.

This is an all-inclusive tour where single occupancy rooms are standard, all meals, fuel and guide are included. There are no hidden or addtional costs, as on all of our tours.  

Note regarding daily mileage:  Mileages in Ecuador may appear short but on back roads and through several small towns and villages, few miles can be ridden each day.  Our tours generally start at 8:00 each riding day and finish at 6:00 pm with various off-bike activities, museums and tours which fill up the time. 

 

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Features:

  • 10 Days / 9 nights (with one rest day)
  • Total Distance Covered: approximately 1,811 km / 1,125 miles
  • Average distance per day : 207 km / 129 miles of twisty Andean roads
  • Altitude: from sea level to 14,500 feet  (300 meters to 4.500 meters)
  • 100% paved backroads
  • The best roads in Ecuador- only the most scenic and safest routes are taken.
  • 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)
  • Pricing   Please see the full price list at the bottom of this page following the detailed itinerary.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 1 

Quito - Papallacta Hot Springs & Coca Cayambe National Park

71 km /  41 miles

 

You'll begin this 10-day "Dirt Deluxe" guided tour from our shop in Quito, Ecuador. In 1978, Quito became the first place on the planet to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having the best-preserved historic center in all of Latin America. Quito is high on the Antiplano Plateau (the highest capital city 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.  Our shop is located in the most luxurious and modern part of the city, so we suggest you get a hotel near our shop and take advantage of all that this city has to offer.

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During the first morning of the tour you’ll be outfitted with the motorcycle of your choice and given a thorough orientation answering all questions concerning local customs, rules of the road, riding signals, Ecuadorian driver courtesies, and more.  

Today's ride is very short and we will head out of the city on the newly constructed "Ruta Viva" that will swiftly take us to the mountain range to the east of the city.  We'll ride a series of switchbacks, climbing in elevation to 13,400 feet - giving us spectacular views of the city behind and below us. This pass is also the continental divide.  Rain that falls on the eastern side flows to the Amazon jungle and Atlantic ocean and that on the west side flows eventually to the Pacific Ocean.

We'll have lunch in a scenic restaurant serving the local specialty - trout fished from the glacial lakes and rivers of this high altitude paramo.  


1-IMG_0580Then we'll check nto our private cabins at one of Ecuador's most popular and beautiful resorts - the Termas Papallacta Hot Springs Resort.   

Your guide will offer those who want to do a little extra riding on unpaved routes the chance to explore the adjacent Coca-Cayambe National Wildlife Refuge.  This is one of Ecuador's most highly protected natural areas. 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.

 

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Day 2

Papallacta - Puerto Misahualli - Cotococha Amazon Lodge

158 km / 99 miles

 

Enjoy your great breakfast, take another swim in the volcanic baths and get ready for another amazing day! 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 12,000 feet to just 1200 feet above sea level, so some stops to remove a layer of clothing will be necessary along the way.1-DSC00484-001

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!

Screen_Shot_2016-03-14_at_6.40Riding 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.inner_tubes

Once we have checked into the cabins, we will board a long, motorized canoe that will take us up the Napo River (the 5th largest tributary to the Amazon River).   We will get out of the canoe to do a hike deep into the jungle as the local guide explains the different plants, insects and animals that we encounter along the way as well as explain the different traditional uses for them.   We'll arrive at the beautiful Cascada de las Latas and go for a swim in the warm, crystal waters.  After our swim, we will head back to the river and float on innertubes back to the lodge.

Afterwards, we will enjoy a special drink while relaxing  around the elegant fireplace.  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.

 

 

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Day 3

Cotococha - Puyo - Pailon del Diablo - Baños

 161 km / 100 miles

We'll wake up to the scents and sounds of the Amazon jungle and enjoy a hearty breakfast.

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.1-tungarahua_erupting

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.

 

 

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Day 4

Baños - Atillo Lakes - Sangay National Park - Macas

248 km / 154 miles

We'll take some time in the morning to enjoy the unique city of Baños, have a soak in the hot springs that are just steps from our hotel and then pack up the bikes.   First, we'll cross a narrow gorge over the Pastaza River and take a series of small back roads through brocolli and exotic fruit farms.   We'll climb a steep grade to get even better views of the Tungarahua Volcano and then we will follow the mighty Chambo R and1-DSCN1006-003 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.

inigenous_young_girlRiobamba 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 ride through these charming indigenous villages where they still use the same farming techniques as centuries ago.  Its an opportunity for us to get a glimpse of ways of life that have almost disappeared from our planet.

Rising in elevation, we will enter the Sangay National Park.   This is one of Ecuador's most protected natural areas and the road we will be riding was promised for the past 111 years- and it was just completed in 2014.  It took so long to complete the road because there had been a lot of controversy about bringing vehicles into what is considered one of the most beautiful natural areas of Ecuador.  You'll be glad that the road is completed as we see the eternally erupting Sangay Volcano and climb one of the many observation towers to view the wildlife and natural beauty of this region.

We'll stop in the friendly town of Zuñac and visit the small schoolhouse there which is part of our Pack for a Purpose Community Initiative.   We'll be able to directly distribute the school supplies and sporting goods.  Our program makes a huge impact on the lives of the school children in this isolated village.

We'll descend a series of stunning switchback roads with beautiful vistas lined with several tall waterfalls and arrive in the Amazon Basin once again.  This time we are in the Shuar region of the Amazon basin.

pack_for_a_purpose_kids_delivery_by_motorcycleThe Spanish, in their quest for gold, tried to colonize the Shuar people.  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.shuar2

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 Arrayanes de Piedra Resort for a stay full of relaxation and fun.

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Day 5

Macas - Gualaceo - Chordeleg - San Bartolomé - Cuenca

298 km / 185 miles

Waking up to the sounds of the jungle along the Upano River, we'll get back on the bikes and follow the river along the edges of the Amazon jungle.   We'll arrive in the town of Mendez and visit their circular town square - known for its vendors of exotic fruits.

tunnel_on_road_to_chordelegFrom Mendez, we'll climb back into the Andes on a newly paved road that borders on the Sangay National Park.  Here we will see all kinds of monkeys, colorful birds and armadillos.  The road is one of the top most beautiful roads in South America and each time we ride it we want to do it again!

We'll ride through the towncuenca of Zhumir - famous now for the alcholic beverages that are distilled there but has a special clay mud that draws people from all around to take mud baths or facial masks.  It has a rejuvenating effect.  

From here, we will continue along magnficent curvy roads to ride to the town of Gualaceo.  Gualaceo is the center of this region, one of the richest agricultural areas of the country .  Through this beautiful region we'll continue the ride to the town of Chordeleg.The town has beautiful rerraced homes with terracotta roofs and is famous for the fine jewellry that is produced there for centuries.  

We will take the famous "Route of the Guitars"- the road along which several famous guitar makers have their shops. Musicians from around the world come to have a custom guitar made here.  The ride is stunning and we will stop to visit the town of San Bartolomé - a gorgeous mountain village.

Then we'll arrive in Ecuador's most beautiful city - a UNESCO World Heritage City - the city of Cuenca.  It 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.

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Day 6

Cuenca - Cajas National Park - Vinces

280 km / 174 miles

We'll have some time in the morning to stroll the magnificent city of Cuenca before heading out to the Cajas National Park.  This is one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Ecuador.   It is a primeval landscape of craggy hills and glacier-scoured valleys studded with over 200 glacier lakes.

antonio_sotomayor_vincesThe park is home to wildcats such as the puma and spectacled bear and teeming with rabbits, guinea pigs and wild alpaca.   We'll stop here for lunch to enjoy some of the world's best trout and enjoy the landscape here.

We'll head down the western slopes of the park, passing through several different climates to arrive in the humid air of the coastal lowlands.  Here we will see miles and miles of banana and cacao plantations.  bananas_in_vinces

We'll cross through the Churute mangrove national wildlife area - known for its beautiful mangroves and alligators.

We'll end the ride outside the town of Vinces.  Vinces was settled by French chocolatiers in the 19th century and still retains its French architectural heritage.  The region is famous for producing the world's best chocolate, known as "arriba" chocolate.  The chocolate is called "arriba" because when the first European chocolate makers came here, they noticed the locals were carrying some of the best smelling and delicious chocolate in their canoes.  When asked where the chocolate came from, the locals replied "arriba" which meant up-river, where Vinces is located today. We'll spend the night on a chocolate and banana plantation. in the unique Senor de los Caballos Resort. We'll get a chance to learn how teakwood, chocolate and bananas are grown and cultivated from the manager of the plantation.

 

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Day 7

Vinces - Santa Ana - San Clemente - Canoa

246 km / 153 miles

 

We'll head out on the roads into a part of Ecuador that is a hidden gem that few people get to visit.  This part of the country is full of fishing birds of all types and a natural forest kept intact by the locals, where hundreds of South American squirrels live in the wild.  You will definitely hear - and may be  lucky - to glimpse the famous howling monkey.  

The population in this area of Ecuador make their living from agriculture - mostly rice and cattle.   We'll see a big change in landscape and culture as we leave the floodplains of the Guayas province and enter the more arid warmer area of the country with dry forests and desters.

ceibo-300x276Here we will see many of the majestic Ceibo Trees.  These trees were fabled by the ancient people to be the Earth's ties to the spiritual world.  Since the only place they grow in the world is along the equatorial belt, their bare branches were thought to be roots that kept the world attached to heaven.  They flower only once every five years and can store thousands of liters of water in their huge trunks.

canoa_beach_hotel_poolWe will pass through the friendly town of Santa Ana and head towards the coast.  We'll visit the charming fishing villages of San Clemente and San Jacinto and have a lunch of the catch of the day.

Our day ends in the town of Canoa. This is home to a mixed population of native fishermen, transient surfers, and expatriate retirees who are seeking sun and relaxation. Our carefully selected accomodations are at the  Canoa Beach Hotel, right on the beach and with a great atmosphere thanks to its friendly helpful and fun staff.

 

 

 

 

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Day 8
Rest Day on the Beach

 

Break Day! Relaxation and sunshine! Canoa has one of the best beaches on the Ecuadorian coast and is a very popular place for surfing..  Other available activities include paragliding, whale watching, horseback riding or fishing.

You can also take the bike out and explore the beautiful back country of Manabi Province.   Or take a boat expedition to explore the famous bird-watching mecca of El Corazon Island.  Corazon Island is a haven of mangroves, located between Bahia de Caraquez and San Vicente in the Chone River estuary in the province of Manabi. Inside there is a path through the mangroves where native guides interpret the life of the mangrove and its rich biodiversity. It is a community ecotourism project which seeks to educate and preserve mangrove resources through education of its inhabitants and visitors.

Or, you can just pull up a chair at some of the great hang-outs, beachside bars and restaurants and enjoy a restful day away from the bike.

 

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Day 9

Canoa - Pedernales - Valle Hermoso

209 km / 130 miles

After a nice last swim in the ocean and a good hearty American breakfast or shrimp omelette, we'll head north along the Pacific Coast, passing through quaint fishing villages and traversing miles of shrimp farms.  Shrimp is one of the principal exports of Ecuador.

We'll stop in the small city of Pedernales - the center of Ecuador's shrimp trade.  Here we will have a last look at the Pacific Ocean and enjoy a last shrimp ceviche made of the freshest, sweetest shrimp you will ever have.   fishing_on_the_coast_in_ecuador

kashamaWe'll then head inland into the rolling hills and grasslands of Manahi province.   The main form of transportation through this area is on horseback.   The rich agricultural lands produce passion fruit, cassava, melons and other exotic fruits.   Wild orchids will line the road as we enter the rainforest region of the lowlands.

We'll check into a very unique hotel and spa - built right into a waterfall.   The Kashama Resort offers swimming in the private waterfall plus fantastic dining and first class service.  We'll enjoy a very special last evening together in this land, home of the Tsachilla tribe here in the rainforest.

 

 

 

 

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Day 10
Valle Hermoso - Mitad del Mundo - Quito

160 km / 100 miles

 

We'll enjoy a last breakfast beside the waterfall and then head out on the newly paved road that will take us from the rainforest into the higher elevations.  Its a series of seemingly non-stop twists and turns as we gain in elevation, passing through small agricultural towns as we climb.

Once we have reached an elevation of about 5,000 feet, we will enter the cloudforest climate and region.  This is a very special place where the finest coffees are grown and where the diversity in species is at its peak.  We'll see many different colorful birds as we climb further,.  

Once past the town of Nanegalito, we will climb even higher - to over 12,000 feet in altitude, gaining magnificent vistas.  We will have a stop in the middle of the world before heading back into Quito.

Inti-ñan means “path of the Sun” in the Quechua language and the Inti-ñan Museum is situated directly on the Equator. The indigenous peoples have revered this site for thousands of years and our group will learn how ancient people came to understand that this was the center of the world centuries before the advent of modern geography or GPS devices. During our stop directly on the “red line” you will experiment with gravity, including witnessing how water drains either clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which side of the Equator you are standing.   

We'll fininsh our ride where we started - at our offices in the Carolina neighborhood of Quito.  Our offices are equipped with a fully stocked bar, hot shower and hot tub so we can relax after our ride and refresh before catching your flight home or heading out for a night on the town in Quito.

 

Tour Dates:

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

  • 11 March 2018
  • 14 July 2018
  • 17 November 2018

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

Prices:

On a Yamaha XT250: $5,100

On a SWM Gran Milano 440: $5,400

On a Suzuki DR650: $5,600

On a SWM RS 650R: $5,600

On a Suzuki V-Strom DL650: $6,000

On a BMW G 650 GS: $6,000

On a Yamaha Ténéré XT660: $6,100

On a KTM 690 Enduro R: $6,200

On a Husqvarna 701 Enduro: $6,200

On a BMW F700 GS: $6,100

On a Triumph Tiger 800XC: $6,300

On a BMW F800GS: $6,300

On a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS: $5,400

On a Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L: $6,400

On a Honda Africa Twin CRF1000 with DCT: $6,600

On a KTM 1050 Adventure: $6,600

Passenger Pillion Charge: $3,350 (double occupancy)

Prices Include:

  • Unlimited Mileage Motorcycle Rental 
  • Saddlebags or hard luggage system
  • Tank bag
  • Guaranteed departure policy (we go even if only one partipant signs up - we do not cancel tours on you!)
  • Support Vehicle (4+ riders)
  • Tour of Quito on doubledecker bus (arrive a day early or stay a day after )
  • 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
  • Chocolate and banana tour
  • 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
  • Refundable security deposit to cover any damage to the rental motorcycle
  • 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
  • Tips and gratuties 
  • Required medical insurance or travel insurance (proof required to enter Ecuador)

  

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.