Date: 24th June – 4th July 2012
Where: Ipiales (Colombia) – El Angel (Ecuador) – Mira – Cayambe – Machangui – Quito
Distance: 3527 to 3718 miles
This ain’t no competition, but how could Ecuador be better than Colombia? The following photos and captions of our journey to Quito try and explain how such a thing is possible!
Cold, cloudy weather welcomes us to double figures as we enter our tenth country, ECUADOR!
Having received two recommendations in as many miles we dropped into the cemetary at Tulcan to be amazed by an incredible display of topiary! The nearby market then gave us our first chance to sample the local cuisine…slow roasted pork (cerdo al horno) and fried mashed potato cakes (also called tortillas confusingly)! Absolute heaven!
Three colourful musketeers off to do battle with El Angel Ecological Reserve…Dominik (Green), Dan (Yellow) and Sarah (Purple) head off up the dirt.
Soon a forest of rare frailejones appeared. From now on the rolling hills are covered by a mass of dots of these crown-like plants. A surreal place to cycle.
We camp by the side of the deserted track, and all goes well until a small cooking disaster in the tent for Dan prompts Dominik to consider adding to the mess.
We wake to mist and rain and let the other two forge on ahead. After a cold hard slog, encouraged halfway by words written in the mud from Dominik (‘Go Sarah y Geoff’!), we reach the refuge at 3700m and are welcomed by a steaming hot bowl of soup from Dan! Much appreciated!
Heart in mouth we descend to the village of El Angel with our near dead brakes. A job for sometime soon! We survive with only one spill for Geoff, but he manages to escape injury by ejecting from the Beast at the last second! On arrival we are welcomed by the now familar patchwork fields.
That day we make it down to Mira, aptly named the ‘balcony of the Andes’ and spend the evening light enjoying the views, cleaning our rather grubby bikes and adjusting the brakes.
Green became brown on the road to Otavalo as it firstly descended into a canyon 1 Snwdn lower than Mira.
Danger, monsters on the road! On the way up again, in searing equatorial sun, heading for the looming mass of Volcan Imbarbura.
Indigenous folks take a break to stare back at the camera just outside Ibarra. The traditional dress is very common in these parts, we both really like the hats!
The market in Otavalo was full of wonderful, quality goods. If only we had another pannier!
Food in Otavalo continued to be spectacular, here in the food market. We also met up with the two D’s again for a delicious rooftop BBQ with their couch-surfing host: Martin.
We went on a little day-trip to the local ‘Magic’ tree near the slopes of Imbabura and then went to the Cascadas de Peguche (pretty waterfall). Sarah’s new bottom bracket (changed the first night in Otavalo) worked fine this day, but now we’ve noticed a noise in her front bearing. New bikes…who’d have them!
After three days we set off for Cayambe, and that night camped for free at a restaurant before promptly spending $15 on delicious trout :-). A short ride the next morning and we were in the Southern hemisphere…then we weren’t, then we were, then we weren’t. We never did tire of the game!
Larking about with an imaginary but quite special line
We set off for the farm in Malchingui where Sarahs’ University friends now live. We choose a cross-country route which takes us along dirt and cobbles, and up and down countless river valleys.
A fantastic sky greets us as we finally reach the farm, having powerslid along most of the last two miles of sandy track. The views in all directions were spectacular!
We spend the first day helping out with things we know best. Sarah holding the baby whilst Geoff prunes and strings the tomatoes.
We really enjoyed our first day at the Comuna de Rhiannon, and that night quickly decided to extend our stay
A snowy Volcan Cayambe at sunset. The snowy mountains make us feel like we’re now properly in the middle of the Andes.
Helen and Nicky have sent up a community where volunteers come and spend time. While we were there we met about fifteen volunteers! Everyone has a job to do, here the chosen cooks prepare another delicious dinner.
Sarah enjoying her role as baby-sitter to the adorable Satya in our guest-room.
In harsh sandy and windy conditions the community has done amazingly well to grow anything, let alone tall sunflowers! Needless to say, Geoff was in heaven!
The farm and Volcan Cotopaxi. The building was so cosy and warm. Perfect to relax and recuperate.
Volcan Cotopaxi with one of the teepees. Volunteers could stay in here, a hobbit house or dormitories. (Thanks to Sandro for the impromptu photography course which created this photo!)
Helen, Nicky and Satya enjoy the warmth of the living room that night. Thanks for a great time!
A full moon and four one-minute exposures gave this view of our next destination Quito twinkling in the distance
Refreshed and invigorated, we set off for Quito along the Pan-American, making our destination in good time.
Time for a snack on the outskirts of Quito
Arrival at the first capital city we’ve cycled into: Quito! (the second-highest capital in the World)