Last but not least, we followed the old train railway to get to the casa de ciclista in Tumbaco, the end of our first big stage in Ecuador. Those first weeks in the country showed us a lot of diversity in landscapes and people, attractives countrysides and a bit more varieties in food.

Arriving in Tumbaco we meet with Santiago, who let cycling travellers camp in his garden. We’ll stay here for a few days, to repair Julien’s back rack and to visit Quito.

Quito’s historical center and it’s concentration of beautiful ancient churches

Sitting at 2850m up, Quito is the second highest capital in the world aft La Paz, Bolivia. Constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, it’s known for its well-preserved colonial center, rich with 16th- and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish and indigenous styles. The historic center of Quito is one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved in the Americas.

After a few days of rest we’re now ready to attack the second part of the TEMBR we’ve been following since the northern border of Ecuador. But first, why don’t we go explore on of the numerous national parc of the country. We left Tumbaco and say goodbye to our cyclist friends we met there, and started a monstrous climb towards Cayambe-Coca national park. Starting at 2350m, we’ll have 40km to climb at 4300m. A long day of climb. Before the end of the day we arrived to the ranger house at the entry of the park, but nobody was there. We waited for about an hour, ready to sleep in the porch, when two guards arrived in a 4×4. They were really friendly and offered us to sleep on two brand new mattress inside. Such a nice invitation we couldn’t refuse after such a long day climbing.

The next morning we finished the 200m of climb left to arrive at the pass and started our descent inside the national Park. The ranger told us the track we wanted to take was ridable for “most of it”. Let’s see how it went…

Cayambe-Coca national park with Antisana Volcano in the background

The first part of the track was quite good, even if we had to push in descent for a bit. But it rapidly became unrideable at all. It was only a walking single track and a long hike a bike for us. It took us 3 hours to do only 3 kms. Thankfully, the landscape and the lagoons all around were worth the effort.

Sit down, take a breath and watch the clouds

Worst part of the track, a seep section with a deep rut

Sometimes mud can be deeper than it looks, especially during rainy season here.

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