Easing into Ecuador


Dan

We arrived into Ecuador on Heather’s birthday, the day hadn’t got off to a great start. We had to do a 30 point manoeuvre to get out of the previous nights parking spot, then the road was closed to Las Lajas Cathedral, which was one of Heather’s must see in Colombia, the border crossing was a breeze, but led pretty quickly to another diversion.  Our moods did brighten considerably when we got to our first Ecuadorian supermarket. The shelves were stocked full of goodies, we spent an hour and a half picking things up and cooing. Our wallet considerably lighter we headed off to Finca Sommerwind, where we were surrounded by many other great Overlanders that helped celebrate Heather’s birthday. The next few days were spent planning our time in Ecuador and wandering around the hills that surrounded the campground.

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Our next stop wasn’t far away, only about 15km down the road.  We were staying with a great chap called Graham who lets Overlanders stay free in his garden centre, it should be a must stop for anyone in the vicinity especially if you are intending to climb Imbabura Volcano, which of course we were. The next morning Graham kindly dropped us off at the trailhead, and we began a steep accent up this long extinct volcano. Quickly it became apparent that the hiking we had done in Colombia had only gone so far to get us back into mountain shape. As weather began to move in we made it to the very windy crater rim at just over 14000ft, the summit was still a 1000ft above us as completely shrouded in cloud, we decided to call it a day, below us we still had some views and that would have to be good enough. The walk back was long, especially as I took us on the wrong road (again).

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Next stop was Laguna Mojanda and the volcanic peak of Fuya Fuya. This is a popular and well trodden hike, we shared the trail with Ecuadorians and gringos alike. In less than 2km we climb to 13986ft, close enough to 14,000ft so let’s round up. It was a pretty straight forward hike, the cloud even cleared a little on the decent to offer up some lake views.

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A short drive and we were in Quito and on the hunt for a last minute Galapagos cruise. We pounded the pavement from agency to agency and it soon became clear that there was not a lot of choice, unusually for this time of the year the cruises were very fully booked, the same handful of options popped across all the agents. We decided to work with Luis at Luis Tipan Tours as he was by far the most knowledgable and engaged guy we met. Eventually after realizing that we were not in a position to be high rolling first class sailing cruisers we settled on the King of the Seas, and an 8 day cruise of the South Islands for $1350 USD each.

We spent the days before our cruise exploring Quito, sampling lots of lovely food, craft beers, of which there are several and snapping pictures of the odd protest.

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Of course this being us and Quito being surrounded by high peaks we had to hike something. So on a sunny Saturday morning we walked through the city to the Teleferico (cable car), where we cheated a little and got a ride part way up. Even with the assistance of the cable car we still had 2100ft of elevation gain to tackle over the course of 5km. The views were magnificent from the Teleferico viewing platform, affording us views of both Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, two very high altitude challenges that await us after the Galapagos.  The hike to the summit of Rucu Pichincha followed a very obvious route until the rock scramble  to the summit. At that point you can take many lines, of course with me at the helm we chose one of the hardest. At 15,406ft this was our highest summit to date, but we managed it with very minimal altitude side effects, a few more of these and we will be ready for Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, but first the Galapagos Islands…..

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Categories: Ecuador, Hiking, Trails, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , ,

10 comments

  1. So beautiful! My boyfriend is half Ecuadorian and went to visit a couple of years ago. I hope we can go together at some point in the future. The landscape is breathtaking.

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  2. So happy for you guys – thanks for sharing!

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  3. Lots of climbing and more beautiful pics. You have seen some amazing places!!! Can’t wait to hear about the Galapagos! xo

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  4. I really must stop reading your blog! My “bucket list” simply grows and grows with each entry. Again, truly outstanding photos. Continuing enjoying!

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  5. Looks like you guys are having a great time. I am surprised to head Ecuador is chilly. I thought it would be very hot the whole time.

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