Inuvik to Ushuaia

Incredible Scenery in the Colombian Andes

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Take a look at this incredible video (view it full-size here). We were riding our bikes through southern Colombia, climbing into some of the most awesome mountain scenery we've ever seen, and here's a little sample. A big sample. Look at that waterfall! Nancy says "I was awed, I was brought to tears, and I was humbled by the realization of how small an insignificant we really are in the big picture of time and space."

We crossed the Equator!

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Nancy and Randy at the Equator in Ecuador
Nancy and Randy at the Equator in Ecuador (View on flickr)

Randy at the arctic circle
Randy at the arctic circle (View on flickr)

We crossed the equator on May 29, almost 2 years after we crossed the Arctic Circle on June 14, 2006! The amazing thing is, take a look at our clothing... I think we were colder at the equator (near 9000 feet of elevation) than we were at the Arctic Circle!

There was a fine monument alongside the rode with an incredibly intricate sundial showing the day of the year as well as the time of day. It was all for nought on such a cold, cloudy, rainy day though.

Stop Thief, Stop!

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historical center of quito
historical center of quito (View on flickr)

We had a funny experience yesterday on the way home from a fine afternoon wandering around the old city of Quito. We were on the excellent and cheap, but crowded, trolleybus. Whenever you're in a crowded bus anywhere in the world, especially standing, you need to take care of your possessions, and we were keeping a close eye out. Nancy spotted a young fellow in a brown baseball cap eyeing her as she put her camera away in her bag, and kept an eye on him. In fact, she was giving him the evil eye and he was also making eye contact in return. They understood each other completely.

As we stood there he snaked his way through the crowd, moving closer and closer to us and Nancy thought he was evaluating me as well. About the time Nancy was reiterating her warning to me to watch my pockets, we heard a lady call out "Thief - there's a thief here." Then another woman yelled "The one in the brown cap!" And the first one said "He's after the tourist lady!" (Nancy).

Then came the incredible part. Somebody yelled again, "The one with the brown cap". And they all started beating him with umbrellas and fists and forcing him to the front of the bus. The bus driver asked what was going on and stopped the bus and delivered the apparent theif right into the hands of a waiting policeman.

It was quite amazing. Nothing happened at all. We didn't get robbed or even come close, and I don't think he would have been successful with us.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

New Photos (Colombia and Ecuador) and the Maps are Updated

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We got our photos of Colombia all updated, and also the maps and elevation profiles of our route through Colombia are now there.

You can see the pictures:

The maps and elevation profiles (including an overview of the route) are here.

The ride south from Quito

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Working the mud for the tiles near Saquisili
Working the mud for the tiles near Saquisili (View on flickr)

Molding the clay for the roof tiles (tejas)
Molding the clay for the roof tiles (tejas) (View on flickr)

Watching the whole process
Watching the whole process (View on flickr)

We rode out of Quito heading south on Sunday morning to miss the busy traffic. But we did not succeed in missing the polluted buses that blew thick black exhaust straight into our taxed lungs. We had just been at sea level for 10 days and the re-aclimation back to 10,000 feet was taking me a few days. Chest pains, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate was not helped by the pollution emitted by almost all vehicles that passed us as we climbed to higher elevations. The city landscape was replaced with green pastures, cows, llamas, sheeps and small pueblos with amazing markets. I started to breathe a little better but about 20 miles outside of Quito, I called it quits for the day and we stayed overnight in Machachi. I spent the afternoon roaming around the markets where I bought a pair of high socks made of wool and looked at the traditional felt hats which ranged according to quality from $10-$50 and wool ponchos for about $15. Randy who can't tolerate shopping for a whole 5 minutes headed to the internet.

The next day we rode the Pan-American highway for about 20 miles and then found a back road that headed south through much quieter, farmlands. This road is what I like about bike touring. No traffic, no painted line, fresh air and rural folks who waved at us as we pedal past their adobe homes. It felt good to be on the bike again and feeling much better.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Our Trip to the Galápagos Islands

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perfect picture for a  postcard
perfect picture for a postcard (View on flickr)

Note: You can see all the pictures of the Galápagos trip here.

Having cycled all this way, we decided since we were kind of in the neighborhood, we should visit the Galapagos Islands, which are part of Ecuador and 600 miles west of the Ecuadorian coast. We made the reservation for an 8 day tour of the Galapagos through the Happy Gringo travel agency in Quito, which had been recommended by another cyclist. Not knowing exactly when we would get there we communicated through email for a few days prior to our arrival in Ecuador. I was very impressed with their quick and thorough responses to our thousand questions.

When we finally got everything arranged, we had reservations on a 100-year-old twin-masted ship called the Sulidae (built in Denmark at the turn of the 20th century). They call it the pirate ship because of its age, style, and because it's painted black as night. Seeing the ship for the first time, I knew we would have a unique experience.

We flew out of Quito and arrived at the San Cristóbal airport where we met most of other passengers we would share this experience with. Right off, I knew we would all have a great time together. They seemed like similar folks with similar interest and all choosing to do a similar medium cost adventure.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Down into the Amazon basin and back up to Cuenca

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Skirts of Tungurahua volcano showing mudflows
Skirts of Tungurahua volcano showing mudflows (View on flickr)

We have surfaced again and now are in Cuenca, Ecuador. After riding the Pan-American highway south from Quito for a hundred kilometers or so we decided to go to Baños to soak in the hot springs. Well, we liked that route much better than the Pan-Am, we continued down to the eastern Amazon region of Ecuador on the edge of the jungle and followed the roads south. Most of the time the roads were brand new and magnificent and other times dirt and pretty bad but the jungle lowlands were enchanting with wild bird sounds all around, exotic flowers, low traffic. The rain would would come and go most of the day and most times we found somewhere to sleep in a town. Actually the fanciest hotel we have slept in on our whole trip was in the delightful little town of Sucúa. It was our 3rd wedding anniversary and we felt we had found the honeymoon suite for $16 and just in time because we were like drowned rats arriving there in a big rainstorm.

A good part of the first part of the trip was around huge volcanos. We stopped in Baños for some hilly walks, soaking in hot springs and a visit to the local zoo. We then dropped down to the jungle on the way to Pugo. The road from Baños to Puyo was a mountain biker's dream come true. Though there were 7 tunnels along this road, the cyclists were diverted around on dirt roads and through wonderful forest.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Ecuador Route: May 29 to July 13, 2008

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We wrote quite a bit about the route and reasons for taking it here. Encourage you to take a look.
Ridedatemiles/km Elev ft/mt
Ipiales, Colombia to Tulcán, Ecuador2008-05-2517/271679/518
Tulcán to Ambuquí, Ecuador2008-05-2654/873015/931
Ambuquí to Otavalo, Ecuador2008-05-2739/633943/1217
Otavalo to Cayambe2008-05-2820/322070/639
Cayambe to Quito, Ecuador2008-05-2951/824258/1314
Quito to Machachi2008-06-1527/441827/564
Machachi to Pujilí, Ecuador2008-06-1642/682326/718
Baños to Puyo2008-06-2140/651443/445
Puyo to Pastaza River2008-06-2243/691742/538
Pastaza River to Macas, Ecuador2008-06-2338/612595/801
Macas to Sucua2008-06-2415/24488/151
Sucúa to Méndez2008-06-2533/53728/225
Méndez to KM 37 from Méndez2008-06-2623/375754/1776
KM37 past Mendéz to Palmas, Ecuador2008-06-2740/656200/1914
Palmas to Paute, Ecuador2008-06-2825/402238/691
Paute to Cuenca, Ecuador2008-06-2925/401492/460
Cuenca to Oña, Ecuador2008-07-0361/985918/1827
Oña, Ecuador to Saraguro, Ecuador2008-07-0423/373579/1105
Saraguro to Loja, Ecuador2008-07-0538/612818/870
Loja to Vilcabamba2008-07-0730/482578/796
Vilcabamba to High Camp in Podocampus National Park above Valladolid2008-07-1029/476049/1867
High Camp to Palanda by bike then Zumba by bus2008-07-1150/815500/1698
Zumba, Ecuador to Namballe, Peru2008-07-1221/342490/769

Cuenca to the Peru Border

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Indigenous boy posing for us near Saraguro
Indigenous boy posing for us near Saraguro (View on flickr)

Randy showing the kids what it's like
Randy showing the kids what it's like (View on flickr)

The ride from Cuenca to the Peru border was one of the best and most beautiful (and hardest) rides so far on this trip. We rode on quiet roads, some paved but most dirt. The landscape was gorgeous and the views amazing. We rode through small indigenous villages where the women wore colorful traditional dresses, jewelry, and felt hats. The traffic was almost non-existent as soon as we left Cuenca. It picked up a little as we rode in and out of Loja. In Loja by chance we met Chaski, a Peruvian man who is walking the Inca trail, learning about the traditional ways people grow potatoes. He is an educator and he is connecting the indigenous people of South America together. We had met him in the far north of Ecuador and got to have dinner with him again.

The next day we rode to Saraguro, a pleasant village with proud and friendly people. The people seem to have a nice life, a sense of community and continue with the traditional Ecuadoran Indigenous life style. Many of the indigenous villages we had passed through seemed reserved and hardship seems to weigh on their shoulders. This village was strikingly different. It was a much happier place. The people more open and had smiles to share. We wanted to stay for the Sunday market but Vilcabamba was calling us.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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