Several years ago, I was traveling through Bangkok alone in search of some adventures. I had already visited the enormous and bustling Chatuchak weekend market, strolled through the manicured grounds of the Grand Palace, and burned myself out on photographing the numerous golden temples dispersed throughout the city. It was time for some real adventure. While I don’t typically sign onto touristy tours, Grasshopper Adventures piqued my interest because what better way to see the city than by bike? I didn’t think twice about the lack of traffic laws (or at least the lack of adherence to travel laws) and signed up for the full-day bike tour through the mad city.
Cuenca is such a great city! Tons of beautiful churches and green parks. Last night, after C and I arrived in town after a four hour bus ride from Guayaquil, we explored the cobblestone streets of Cuena and admired its old colonial building, remnants of Spanish colonizations in the mid-1500’s. We had a late afternoon snack of hummus (yay!) and then a light dinner at Raymipampa. I’ve been craving salads and luckily they had a great lettuce, bean, and avocado option for me!
Well, we’re sitting at the Quito airport, waiting for our flight to Guayaquil, and I thought it would be a good time to catch up on our final day of biking through Ecuador. Actually, we didn’t do any biking, but it was still our final day of our Biking Through Ecuador adventure with Arie.
After a good night’s sleep in Misahualli, we woke up to a cloudy, but rain-free day. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then C and I took a walk down the to muddy river to have a look at the beach. There were a few long boats waiting for the tourists to arrive to take them down river and into the Amazon rainforest. A man tried to sell us one of his numerous trips, but we told him we were leaving for Baeza in a few minutes.
We set out from Baños this morning, on our bikes, and headed east toward Ecuador’s share of the Amazon rainforest. And guess what. It rained. A lot. We started out dry, but as we steadily biked on, it started to drizzle and pretty soon we were soaking wet. The road we were biking on is nicknamed Ruta de las Cascadas (Road of Waterfalls) as well as Ruta de las Orquideas (Road of Orchids). And it didn’t take us long to see why.
We had a free day today in the town of Baños. Not named after what you might think (toilets), Baños is called such for its warm thermal baths that are filled with heated water from the Volcan Tungurahua. After a good night’s rest – so good, actually, that we didn’t hear the windows rattle as Tungurahua let off an explosion early this morning. Arie informed us of the event when we ran into him before breakfast – we rose early and headed out to enjoy a pre-breakfast soak in one of the thermal baths nearby.
oday we went from 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) to 2,580 meters (8,465 feet), by bike. That’s an 8,000 foot drop in just about 4 hours. Crazy! Not to mention the temperature change, which I’ll get into in a little bit. We left Riobamba at 7:30 this morning and drove for an hour and a half up the slopes of Chimborazo volcano, the highest volcano in Ecuador at 6,310 meters (20,700 feet), making it the tallest volcano of the earth (not sea level) and the closest to the sun.
Sorry I haven’t posted my whereabouts for the past two days, but we haven’t had Internet at the places we’ve been staying at. So, to catch up I’ve posted three separate entries – Day 2, Day 3 and day 4 (today). If you want to read what we’ve been doing in chronological order, read those first!
Moving on to today. After breakfast at our hostel in Quilotoa, we visited the edge of the crater one more time to see it in the morning light.
Remember the second harrowing drive I describe yesterday? The road all the way up to the Cotopaxi Cara Sur lodge? Well, we biked down it this morning. But before our brake-clutching decent, C and I took a hike up the slopes of Cotopaxi. The first steep hill above the lodge was almost too much for me (remember, we were at 13,123 feet!), but I pushed on and was sure glad that I did. We could see the snow-line of the volcano ahead of us, but it was much too far for us to hike to.
Tired from yesterday’s mountain climbing on our bikes, we fell asleep quickly and soundly only to be woken up a few hours later by the loud, obnoxious, and seemingly never-ending cacophony of barking dogs. I swear they were right outside our second-story guest room. After what seemed like an hour – but was probably more like 15 minutes – they finally curtailed their excitement only to start up again a half-hour or so later.