We crossed into Ecuador on February 28, just a few days before our Colombian Visas expired. We stopped in Tulcán, the town just over the border from Colombia for our first taste of Ecuador. There seemed to be a little bit more English spoken here in comparison to Colombia and the currency used is the US dollar after inflation in the early 2000’s forced the country to ditch the Sucre.
After a couple days to get our bearings in Tulcán, we set off on the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route (TEMBR). This was a route we were really looking forward to, a dedicated route to back roads touring getting away from the highways and traffic.
On the Colombian side of the border, getting closer to being in a different country.
At the border.
I was quite worried about road conditions because of the rains that happen daily this time of year in Ecuador. There were a few spots of concern, but overall the back roads have been in good condition.
There have been some steep roads in Ecuador. Steeper than Colombia, sometimes in excess of 20% grades which are not rideable.
Eventually we came to the market town of Otavalo. It is a predominantly indigenous part of Ecuador with an incredible Saturday market. The Plaza de los Ponchos is overrun with vendors selling all kinds of textiles and jewerly.
Climbing out of Otavalo was a struggle of 1,200m over 14.5km, by far our steepest stretch of the trip. At the top we were able to camp by the beautiful Laguna Chiriacu.
Coming down the following day we passed over the equator and begun our time in the southern hemisphere.
The Otavalo Saturday market.
Climbing up and out of Otavalo over some famous Ecuadorian cobble stones.
Our camping spot at the top.
Making our way into Quito we were able to follow along an old railway route, bushwacking our way through carved out valleys and old stone tunnels.
We’re now in Quito where we have spent the last week thinking about our next adventure to come.