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Werner Zwick

South American Journeys - Ecuador

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South American Journeys - Ecuador

November 20, 2001 - Ecuador

At the border, which is said to be much easier than the main border crossing at the coast, I had no problems at all. I showed my international registration, and the officials put a stamp in it, no question for a carnet de passage. We talked about the World Cup Qualification where Ecuador qualified ahead of Brazil, and Germany with some problems just a day before. They did not even stamp the motorcycle into my passport as they often do. Football seems to ease the process at borders.

From Macara I took the road to Cariamanga. It must be very scenic, but I did not see all of it, since the clouds were low and a long stretch of the road was covered in dense fog. But the rich tropical vegetation was a sharp contrast to the desert of Peru, and Bolivia, and Chile, before.

Bike in mud in Ecuador.

Unfortunately, the unpaved road is going to be paved. There was a long construction area, where loose gravel, mud and heavy rains made it difficult to get through. At one point, the whole road was just a quagmire, and all cars and buses were stuck in the mud.

Truck stuck at ravine near Tungurahua, Ecuador.

With some luck I got through. I reached my destination, Vilcabamba just before it got dark. The Hostal las Ruinas is a paradise. A great place to chill out. They have a pool, jacuzzi, Turkish bath, sauna, volleyball field and much more. The staff is very friendly, and it cost 10 US$ including two meals per room.

Hostal Las Ruinas, Vilcabamba, Ecuador.

Hostal Las Ruinas, Vilcabamba, Ecuador

The roads in southern Ecuador are a bikers dream. Many curves, going up and down mountain passes with great views. Only the police checks of all passing vehicles in every town are a nuisance. They always want to see the drivers licence and the vehicle registration. But they have not checked yet, if the registration is for this bike. One time, there were 3 police checks within 15km.

Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador.

Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador

Great photos from Peru and Ecuador!!

Zwick's Home

Stories and Photos -2000-1
Patagonia -
where the
beyond the
/Bolivia -
The Land of
the Condor
Peru -
Colca Canyon
and Machu
Ecuador -
dream roads,
volcanoes and
the equator

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I enjoyed the nice colonial town of Cuenca, before enjoying more curves on the way north to Baños. In Riobamba I asked several times for the road to Baños, and I found it.

Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador.

Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador

But I was very surprised when I reached a point, where the road was washed away, and there was just a narrow, sandy deviation through the ravine where a truck got stuck. No way to get past him. I was told, that there were more washouts from the recent eruption of the nearby volcano Tungurahua, which was clearly visible above, with a big cloud of smoke. But with the bike it should be no problem people said.

I continued and had to do some nice Enduro riding before I got to a steep and long climb. What looked from below pretty easy turned out to be impassable for a heavy Transalp. After about 300m climb, the ground became loose sand and gravel, the bike dug in and it was almost impossible to get it out of the hole the rear tyre dug itself in the steep grade. I dropped the bike several times since my feet slid away in the loose gravel.

Bike in mud near Tungurahua, Ecuador.

I unloaded the bike, but to no avail. After one drop, somehow the gearbox was in neutral, and when I picked up the bike, it rolled backwards with me clinging to it. All I could do was to throw it against the wall of sand before it could fall down into the river. All the meters I had gained and worked so hard on were lost, and I gave up, turned around and did a 150km detour to reach Baños.

From the ridiculous to the sublime - Banos, Ecuador.

From the ridiculous (see above pic) to the sublime - Baños, Ecuador

I later learned, that I was only ten kilometers from Baños and only 200m from the paved road. Do not try this road on your own with a heavy bike. Its passable with a light Enduro, or if there is somebody to push through the loose sections. Baños is a small town in a nice tropical environment with six thermal baths, many restaurants, bars, ice cream shops and tourists. Tomorrow I will go to Quito, the last part of this journey, before I will fly back to Germany on Saturday. I have to work on Monday.

Bike made it to the Equator.

Bike made it to the Equator.

:-( Werner

Previous Story - Bolivia and Peru

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Story and photos copyright © Werner Zwick, 2000-2001.
All Rights Reserved.
Grant Johnson

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