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Thread: Ecuador - 2016

  1. #1
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    Ecuador - 2016

    Even as a youngster I hated the months of January and February. As that is my nature I'm always looking for warmer places to sort of hurry Spring along here in the Northern Hemisphere. During my wanderings around the Internet I stumbled across an opportunity to rent motorcycles and take an unguided tour of Ecuador. The company, Freedom Bike Rental ( http://www.freedombikerental.com) supply a GPS with a route that showcased most of the various regions of Ecuador for a true introduction to the country.

    After some further research I decided to pitch the opportunity to a few of my riding partners as an opportunity to escape winter in the Northern Hemisphere. After some discussion amongst the collective Chip Greening, Bob Dietrich, and Sten Palbom were in for some more South American exploration. We settled on a 12 day self-guided tour of Ecuador that would give us a taste of most of what the country had to offer.

    Our group of four rider left their homes on February 1st and met in Quito, Ecuador. We had agreed to spend a few days in Quito to see the sights and acclimate to the high altitude (over 9300 feet above sea level).


    Here the group is recuperating from our late night (midnight) arrival in Quito and contemplating our next move.




    Our first move was to hire a taxi driver to take around Quito and show us some of the sights. One of our first stops was one of the largest cathedrals. This is the interior of the Iglesia de La Compaña de Jesus cathedral in Quito. The church was constructed from 1605 to 1765.




    One of the many narrow streets in the older section of Quito.




    I'm not sure the name of this restaurant would work in the politically correct USA, "the Bad Balck"!




    The Grande Plaza! Plans for the city of Quito were begun in 1524 with the Grande Plaza as it's center.






    El Panecillo in the background. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Panecillo




    The Madonna at El Panecillo up close. The statue was completed in 1976.




    The roofs of more churches in the central area of Quito.




    Quito, like many Latin American countries, have less than modern infrastructure.




    A unique exterior facade...sod (turf)! The same treatment was also given to the opposite side of this wall (interior). Different!




    A view of a section of the city of Quito from El Penecillo. Quito is home to apron. 3 million people and is the second largest city in Ecuador. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quito


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    On our second day in Ecuador we hired a guide/taxi to take us the 25 miles to visit the "Middle of the World" (El Mita del Mundo). First Luis took us to the Pululahua caldera, which is actually past (Northern hemisphere) El Mita de Mundo. It is a caldera formed from the collapsed volcano after it emptied it’s magma chamber during the eruptions dating back to 500 B.C., or 2500 years ago.

    http://www.pululahuahostal.com/html/...l_reserve.html




    Our guide told us the caldera is populated by a small community of farmers that raise potatoes, etc. in the fertile volcanic soil. He also said that those crops are carried up out of the caldera via horses and our the backs of the farmers to the roads adjoining the rim. Believe me, it's a steep hike in and out. While standing at the rim we were able to hear quite a ruckus from the large number of dogs that inhabit the community. According the our docent the dogs are the "intruder" alarms for the farmers.







    Our guide told us how some of the indigenous tribes "shrunk" the heads of their enemies and their chiefs, even some animals they hold in high esteem. Some tribes live in areas that are completely off limits to outside visitors to prevent contamination from the rest of the world. The guide assured us the shrinking of heads is no longer practiced.




    It was interesting to note as our watches indicated 12:00 PM so did the sundial located directly on the equator!


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    Finally, after enjoying our exploration of Quito and the surrounding area we were ready to make our way to Freedom Bike Rentals and pickup our steeds and begin our tour. Court gave us a thorough briefing as to what to expect from Ecuadorian drivers, the rural life, and some of the trickier elements of navigation into some of the destinations on our itinerary.

    Loading up and final additions to our rental bikes. Both Chip and Sten had opted for Suzuki DL 650 V-Stroms, Bob went with a BMW F700, and chose a Husqvarna TR 650 Terra (manufactured while BMW owned Husqvarna.




    Court Rand just checking to be sure I was getting everything!




    Our first day was a mix of pavement, pot holed graved, and cobblestone roads that lead us to San Pedro de Pataqui.




    Low lying clouds added to the mountain atmosphere.




    We ended our first section of cobblestone road.




    The gravel, pot holes, and cobblestone played havoc with the equipment, but I was having a ball. The Husqvarna did very well, the GPS mounts did not!




    After reaching the pavement everyone needed to check that everything was still functioning. The Garmin GPS mounts began complaining (not functioning). Court and Sylvan would do their best in a few days to resolve the issues, but the poor Garmin design continued to give sporadic issues on all of the bikes. I really enjoyed the off pavement riding on a nimble bike.




    Not you usual sight...even in rural Arkansas. Parked HOG in San José de Minas!



    We also found the local Wendys in San José de Minas.


    After a late departure from Quito we arrived at Hacienda Pinsaqui late in the afternoon, but just in time for a welcome drink and a sumptuous dinner!


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    On day two of our tour we awoke in Hacienda Pinsaqui. Hacienda Pinsaqui was fantastic. The atmosphere, history, hospitality and cuisine were memorable. Freedom Bike Rental hit a home run with this one!

    http://www.haciendapinsaqui.com




    Hacienda Pinsaqui has an almost 300 hundred history and was visited frequently by Simon Bolivar. Bolivar always stayed in room #1 and I stayed next door in #2...cool!

    When we returned to our rooms after dinner some were met with a fire in the fireplaces in their rooms. My room did not have a fireplace, but a hot water bottle was warming the sheets and an electric space heater was heating the sleeping area. And, of course there was a chocolate waiting!




    The property has primarily centered on the equine set and the owners have received many awards for the horses in their stables over the years.




    One of the sitting rooms.




    The breakfast area. Great food by the way!




    Another sitting rooms.




    Typical of such estates, there was a cappella (chapel).




    Bob headed out for a very long (231 miles), hot ride on day two to Playa Escondida. We all agreed that day two was hot and humid as we made our way to the coast. Unfortunately, Playa Escondida was a remote facility without air-conditioning and as such was not a favorite amongst the group. However, the food and the staff were good.




    The smile on Chip's face indicates he also enjoy Hacienda Pinsaqui!


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    Day three was a relatively uneventful ride along rows and rows of banana trees that lined the roads from Hacienda Pinsaqui and Canoa. Once we arrived at the Canoa Beach Hotel it was time for some air conditioning, cold beer and some awesome blackened fish. Great food and service at a nice beach hotel.

    Sylvan from Freedom Bike Rentals was at the hotel when we arrived and helped sort out some of the issues with the GPS units. Things were better, but not without some interruptions of service. The primary problem was a poorly designed mount. Freedom Bike Rental did everything that could be done to remove our problems.

    Day four was a rest day and rest we did! It was time to check up on emails, photos, walks on the beach, etc. The weather was somewhat rainy so parasailing was out of the question this time.











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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Registered User jsouth's Avatar
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    Beautiful pics. Looks like a fantastic trip.

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    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Thanks for bringing us along!

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    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Great pics, thanks!

    And that's the first time I've ever seen a parked hog with no chrome...

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    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Nice job!
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    WOW! Thanks!
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    After two restful nights at the Canoa Beach Hotel we departed early in order to make the 233 miles to Guayaquil before the afternoon rush hour in the largest city in Ecuador. As such there was little time for photos along the way. We ended the day with top notch accommodations at the Wyndham Hotel, Guayaquil.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guayaquil


    The arch at Portoviejo Canton (county), Manabi Province, Ecuador. We were still near the coast and beginning to make our way back toward the higher elevations (cooler and less humid climes) of the interior of Ecuador.


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    On day 6 we had a great breakfast at the Wyndham and began our ride to the mountain town of Zaruma.


    A partial view of one of the neighborhoods in Guayaquil from my room at the Wyndham Hotel.






    More banana trees near Machala, Ecuador. Machala is touted as the banana capital of the world. Mile after mile of banana plantations as we made our way back into the mountains.




    More banana plantations. We had tried to take this road on our way to Zaruma, but mud and construction ultimately brought our progress to a halt. a little backtracking and we were back on our way to Zaruma where the Hotel Roland was waiting for us!




    We began seeing signs indicating we were close the border with Peru and came across this abandoned theme park. We were in El Oro (gold) Province, the southernmost coastal province in Ecuador.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Oro_Province




    Not sure how a plane crash played into the theme of the park, but it was interesting in any case.




    After we arrived in Zaruma we found that most of the town is built on hillsides. This is the view from the level our rooms were on and the uppermost level where the lobby was located was at street level. "Zaruma is famous for its republic-era architecture, gold mines, culture and traditions, art, coffee, friendly people, beautiful women and for having been founded by Spanish explorer Alonso de Mercadillo."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaruma




    Sunset in Zaruma, Ecuador.




    The view from the hotel lobby and our rooms were next to the pool. As you can see there were even levels below. Of course, much of the town was further below...and more was above!


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    On Day seven we would be traveling from Zaruma to the Madre Tierra Ecolodge in Vilcabamba (165 miles).

    Before leaving Zaruma we took a taxi from the Hotel Roland to the town center looking for a restaurant that served breakfast.




    Zaruma is very proud of the gardens in the town square.




    While searching for an open restaurant we came across someone's lunch and or dinner hoping around on the sidewalk. Folks, it doesn't get any fresher than this, live chickens bouncing around in the bags! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!




    The narrow paved streets of Zaruma, Ecuador...cool place!






    We did find a place for coffee and breakfast. Bob and Sten are perusing the menu. Notice the sign advertising Authentic Tigrillo. Tigrillo is made with mashed plantains and various other ingredients such as steak, eggs, pork, cheese, or whatever else you can imagine I suppose.




    Tigrillo! It's actually very good. I'm sure it's very popular with the miners in Zaruma as it is the type of food we in the States would call "stick to your ribs food". Very filling!

    http://thelatinkitchen.com/blogs/kit...-mash-tigrillo


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    After breakfast we hit the road headed for Vilcabamba. When we reached Chaguarpampa it was time for a break for coffee and water.



    Sten and Chip seem to be enjoying a little break from the curvy roads, or they're grinning because of the cure roads!



    The view from the balcony of the restaurant.




    On the road to Vilcabamba.




    We made it to the Madre Tierra Eco Lodge in Vilcabama. The hotel is owned by an American and the staff took excellent care of us. It's a very comfortable place to relax, one my wife would really enjoy.

    http://www.madretierra.com.ec/







    This looked very relaxing, especially with a mojito in hand!




    Here's the view that goes with it.




    Vilcabamba is situated in a valley and it is widely believed the inhabitants lived to extreme old age. Not sure about that, but it is a beautiful place to spend some time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilcabamba,_Ecuador


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