After our adventures in Colombia, we crossed into Ecuador via the small village of Tulcan. Needing an inexpensive place to stay for the evening, we ended up in a hotel which charged us per 12 hours – instead of per 24. You can already imagine which kind of hotel this was…
From here we found our way to Otavalo market, a highly recommended market to visit on Saturdays. Here you can find practically everything from food and produce, to textiles, clothing, and even animals. This was really a fun experience and a great way to meet the locals. The market itself was gigantic and there appeared to be more people selling things than people buying. It was mostly the indigenous people of the region that ran the market, so you could see part of their culture on display there.
Afterwards we headed toward to capital city of Quito.
We were lucky to arrive in Quito on a Sunday. Every Sunday Quito has a day free of cars. One of the biggest roads through the city center is blocked to cars, and bikes can take to the streets! This was the perfect opportunity for us to enjoy the city by bike. Alex needed a quick repair on his brake due to wear and tear (we’ve put a lot of miles on our Montagues in the last 8 months of travel). Luckily we quickly found a bike mechanic and in 15 minutes we were ready to explore the city!
We rode all through the colonial center, and we enjoyed the parks of the city. We climbed the basilica towers, we visited some churches, and we dined on the delicious street foods available all over the city. The streets were full of bikes and of people. It was Sunday, so everyone seemed to be out enjoying time with their families.
At 4 pm we arrived to the hotel, we left the bikes and took a ride on the nearby cable car. It takes you up to 4000 meters, and we were able to catch the last bit of sunlight and see from a distance the beautiful scene that is Quito at night.
The next leg of our journey took us into the Amazons to get our first experience with the legendary jungle. We made it to Quilotoa lake, which formed in the crater of a volcano. This was one of the most beautiful natural sites we’ve seen on our trip.
Leaving the lake we went toward the beach, and after 10 hours we arrived very tired. After a restful sleep, we took a ferry to a nearby island to see the famed blue foot boobies! We hiked for 3 hours on the island and were able to see 5 kinds of birds, blue foot boobies, red foot boobies, tropical birds, fragatas and nazca!
For a better view of the nearby mountains, we took a ride on el Nariz del Diablo (the nose of the devil). It is a train that climbs through the mountains by zigzagging across the inclines. The train has changed a bit in recent years so you can no longer sit on top of the cars (you could until not long ago). We stayed inside while enjoying beautiful views, but the windows were wide open to experience the fresh mountain air.
After making our way back down the mountain and returning to the Land Cruiser, we were ready to leave Ecuador and enter Perú, but not before taking a wrong turn to find fallen rocks blocking the road.
Notice our Montague bikes on top? When we need to keep them safe, we can easily stow them folded inside. We’ll certainly take them out for many rides in Perú. Expect another update soon!