Aside from yesterday’s lengthy Quito post, we haven’t written much here about our month in Ecuador. We suspect our typically ordinary photographs may not illustrate quite how much we enjoyed it, but enjoy it we did.

(As always, you can find past posts in this monthly ‘Snaps’ series by clicking here.)

 


 

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As soon as we crossed the border from Peru into Ecuador, we had to grow accustomed to an unfamiliar sound: the gentle rumble of car and truck engines behind us. In Peru, where the standard of driving is dismal, drivers tore past us without pause, regardless of whether there was room to do so. Indeed, regardless of whether they could even see if there was room to do so – overtaking on blind corners was par for the course. Whether or not roadside billboards such as this have anything to do with it, Ecuadorian drivers are a much more considerate bunch.
near Gualaquiza, Morona Santiago, Ecuador
2 June 2014

 


 

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There are three main ways of cycling north through Ecuador from the Peruvian border. The easiest is to take the Pacific coast road via Guayaquil. The hardest is to follow the spine of the Andes through the middle of the country, taking in Cuenca and Riobamba. Somewhere in between the two in terms of difficulty is the eastern selva (jungle) route, a quiet, recently paved road skirting the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. It’s this route we chose to take, dropping down to the jungle from Loja to Zamora before making our way back up to the mountains on the Puyo-Ambato highway a week later. The landscape is more modestly beautiful than the mountains; but after several months spent largely in the Peruvian Andes, we loved the change of scenery…
along Ruta E45 (Troncal Amazónica), Morona Santiago & Pastaza, Ecuador
4 & 7 June 2014

 


 

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… Even if we couldn’t always see it. That’s why they call it a cloud forest.
between Santiago de Méndez & Logroño, Morona Santiago, Ecuador
5 June 2014

 


 

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Loaded down with car-washing equipment, knees bruising his ribs as he pedalled, this chap cut quite the dash on his way to work. We hung around behind him for a while to see if he’d pull any tricks on his stunt pegs, but to no avail.
between Logroño & Sucua, Morona Santiago, Ecuador
5 June 2014

 


 

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After a rest day, we set out early one damp morning from the lovely Casa Upano in Macas. For a few hundred yards, we had company, until we told the owners’ delightful daughter that we had another 125km to go.
Macas, Morona Santiago, Ecuador
7 June 2014

 


 

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Given that we were riding there in the rainy season, we were fairly fortunate with the weather in the selva. However, we didn’t escape unscathed – flooding the road in minutes, this may have been the fiercest rain shower either of us have ever seen.
Río Verde, Tungurahua, Ecuador
8 June 2014

 


 

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‘You don’t even need to pedal! It just… goes!’
Tigua, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
11 June 2014

 


 

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A circuit of just under 200km from the Panamerican Highway south of Quito, the road to the volcanic crater lake of Quilotoa is becoming a popular attraction for visitors to Ecuador. (Especially those, like us, who didn’t get to see much of the nearby high-rising volcanoes thanks to cloud cover. In ten days within its orbit, for example, we glimpsed the immensity of Cotopaxi just twice.) Most tackle it by a combination of foot and bus/taxi from likeable Latacunga, but the circuit also makes a terrific three-day bike ride. The crater lake itself sits at an elevation of nearly 4,000m and is a ridiculous 3km wide – too wide, as you can see, for our camera.
south of Chugchilán, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
12 June 2014

 


 

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As road blockages go, this is fairly conclusive. A handful of cars and buses were left stranded, but we managed to scramble up the side.
south of Chugchilán, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
12 June 2014

 


 

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The Quilotoa loop is beautiful: quiet roads, warm welcomes, quietly gorgeous scenery. It is also rather hilly. While Peru builds its mountain roads with generous gradients, serpentine and steady, Ecuador follows the maxim that the shortest distance between two points is… If not a straight line, then the straightest line the terrain will allow. We can’t remember if the glorious road pictured above was a screaming descent or a fierce climb, but it was certainly one or the other.
north of Sigchos, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
14 June 2014

 


 

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Throughout Ecuador sit a number of private educational establishments that have been named in honour of people, many living, who clearly have had no relationship whatsoever with the operation in question. Along with these two curiosities, we also cycled past the Preuniversitario Stephen W Hawking and the Biblioteca Bill Gates.
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador / Cayambe, Pichincha, Ecuador
17 June 2014 / 23 June 2014

 


 

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One building for which we didn’t find a space in our Quito piece: this is the astonishing interior of the 16th-century Iglesia de San Francisco.
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
17 June 2014

 


 

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We saw more than our fair share of pass-the-hat jugglers at Ecuadorian traffic lights. This, though, was a one-off. With an iPod and tiny speaker parked at the side of the road, this young couple – him from Buenos Aires, her from the Colombian city of Cali – were earning their keep by dancing the tango for motorists waiting at the lights on the outskirts of Otavalo.
Otavalo, Imbabura, Ecuador
25 June 2014

 


 

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Colombia, starting as it means to go on: with spectacular countryside and a massive hill.
between Pilcuan & Tangua, Nariño, Colombia
27 June 2014

 


 

from San Juan de Pasto, Nariño, Colombia