South of Quito

After returning from the Galapagos we headed back to Tumbaco and the Casa de Ciclista where our bikes were waiting for us. Getting back on the road after time off is always a great feeling. Hopping back on the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route, we took dirt and cobblestone roads south towards Cotopaxi and Quilotoa.

Our route from Quito to Cuenca. We took two buses in blue.

Riding on these old cobblestone roads is hard, even with large mountain bike tires to absorb the shock. It takes twice as long as on pavement and that is a large mental hurdle to overcome when it takes all day to go 15km.

Olivia greeting every friendly dog along the way.

Ecuadorian cobblestones. A necessary evil.

Soon enough we realized the reason cobblestones exist as the roads turned to mud. We were in Ecuador during the rainy season and were experiencing rain every afternoon and night. We would usually have to find a place to stop by 1pm or risk getting drenched, and with cooler temperatures and no Sun, drying out by the next morning was difficult.

We got to a fork in the road where either direction consisted of 12″ of sticky, unrideable mud. We spent a couple hours trying to push our way through one way only to make it a kilometer or two. Exhausted, we turned back toward a dairy farm we had passed at the fork and asked to camp the night. We spent a soggy night cold and wet but optimistic we could detour around the mess and onwards to our destination of Cotopaxi volcano.

Realizing this isn’t a ton of fun.

We soon realised that wasn’t going to work either and decided it was best to head back the way we came. 40km downhill took a couple of hours. It had taken us two days to get here. We would have to resort to foggy views of Cotopaxi from the highway.

The market town of Saquisilí was a welcome respite from the rain, but both Olivia and I had come down with something. I’m blaming North American tourists on the Galapagos flight back to Quito, but the wet and cold conditions we experienced the last few days couldn’t have helped. We would spend the next couple of weeks hacking and coughing as we tried to press on toward Quilotoa.

A typical Ecuadorian lunch. Rice, meat, potatoes and salad.

We spent a day climbing and coughing in the rain and cold. The next day cleared up and gave us some much needed sunshine.

Cold, wet and sick.

Top of the mountain celebration. 💃🕺

The climb was hard and steep. We were trying to make it to Quilotoa in one go, but ran out of gas 20km from the destination. We found a concrete walled shelter to sleep for the night, protected from the wind.

Switchback hell.

Pushing on the next day we were able to make it to the incredible views of Quilotoa.

Laguna Quilotoa.

From Quilotoa we headed south, sometimes taking the highway to avoid the rains, to the town of Alausí.

We took a day trip to the nearby Lakes Mactayan & Cubillin.

Olivia’s handiwork at the hostel.

From here all roads lead to Cuenca.
We’re spending a bit of time at an AirBnB in Cuenca while we do some maintenance on the bikes but hope to be back on the bikes soon and into Peru by the end of the month.

3 thoughts on “South of Quito

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  1. From the Adventure-less in Victoria, this looks wonderful. Great views, crazy paths/roads and a great adventure. Really enjoy the photos and story. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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