DAY 587 SAN GABRIEL – EL ANGEL
START 7:30 FINISH 12:00 (10/10/16)
DISTANCE 39KM RIDE TIME 3H22
I wasn’t looking forward to having to put my wet cloths back on this morning. They had hardly dried overnight. So I put on one dry shirt and a wet shirt over the top and one dry pair of socks and a wet pair over the top and then my wet shoes. It works well because within a hour or so they had dried off quite nicely. I stopped in La Paz for breakfast. A guy came in to the restaurant…….he then went out and had a look at my bike outside. When he came back in I acknowledge the fact he had looked at my bike. Then when he was leaving I gave him one of my cards. He sat down and we talked. He then got up and left only to come back 5 mins later to tell me my breakfast had been paid for. I hope this is a sign of the nice hostility to.
The towns were nice and close this morning I cycled only a few km to Bolivar. It was a prehistoric themed town. Dinosaurs must have been found close by. The town centre was tidy with a nice park in front of the church. From Bolivar I turned off the Pan Amercana to take a smaller road up to El Angel
I called round to the bomberos. But the Bomberos weren’t home. So I ended up going to a hostel for $6 a night. Its a small world because later that evening. I herd a voice say hello. It was Katarina & Roma who had just arrive. The two Czech cyclists I meet in Colombia. They had decided to camp in the back yard for $7. They mentioned a lake they were going to cycle up to tomorrow and if I wanted to join them. I thought why not. So we went to the market to get some fruit to take, as well as some dinner at the same time.
DAY 587 EL ANGEL REST DAY
It was 17km and a 700 meter up to the lake. After the first 2km of sealed road. The rest of the way was on a rough cobble stone road. Mistake of getting in between Roman unfortunately broke his chain and had to continue on by pushing. It was all up so he had the down hill to look forward to.
We came across a turkey on the road with two gosling. I made the big mistake of getting in between mother and chicks. She chased me down the road for a 150 meters. I thought I was going to have to use the pepper spray on her. The cobble stone road was really tough to cycle and I reverted to pushing my bike for some parts. As we rose it got colder and we were soon in the cloud. We had two rain showers that didn’t help. When we reached the Rangers station Katarina and I did the 1 hour loop to the lake. The walk started by taking you to an overlooking advantage point. Even with te mist and rain. The Lagunas looked very nice.
Then we walked down to the waters edge. Didn’t need to put my hand in the water to know it was cold. There were so many bugs. We couldn’t hang around for long. The next part of the walk took us up to the highest point. Had to wait a while for the cloud to clear briefly. Long enough to be able to see all the way back to El Angel. Great views and well worth e effort. Its not often the ride up is more enjoyable then the ride down. I took a lift with one of the park officers down. Spare my self the pain of the constant juddering on the cobbles on the way down.
DAY 588 EL ANGEL – LAGUNA YAHUARCOCHA
START 9:00 FINISH 16:00 (12/10/16)
DISTANCE 66KM RIDE TIME 4H28
This morning I left El Angel with the Czechs……..Roman & Katarina. It looks like we might be cycling together till Quito.
After only cycling 8km there was a drastic change to the landscape. We found ourselves on one side of a valley that was lush and green with fields and cattle and looking out to the other side the mountains were very arid and dry looking. The views were fantastic. We could see for miles across the Andes. In the distance were
some volcanos over 5000 meters with their heads in the cloud. The next 25km was a awesome down hill run to the valley below. While enjoying the scenery. As we descended the land Landscape started to change more and we soon found ourselves in a desert. It was boiling hot and dry.
Reaching the bottom we stopped for lunch. Been in the middle of nowhere the prices were double. After lunch we were back on the Panameracana. Traffic was a lot more heaver. We then cycled 25km as we climbed back out of the desert. The temperature cooling as we got higher. We were climbing toward a volcano. We arrived just outside Ibarra and cycled down to the Laguna where we found a nice spot to camp for the night.
DAY 589 LAGUNA YAHUARCOCHA – NATABUELA
START 8:30 FINISH 13:30 (13/10/16)
DISTANCE 21KM RIDE TIME 1H50
Easy day today. It was only a short cycle into Ibarra. We visited the old train station and waited for the tourist train to arrive. It does a all day scenic trip for $29. Would have been nice. Sadly not in the budget. We had a quick look at the cemetery
I came across one of the tombs that had freshly been bricked up and the shocking sight of blood running out the bottom of the tomb. There mustn’t have been a proper embalming. It didn’t smell to good either. That was the end of my cemetery tour.
We then cycle out of town to find Mario and his T shirt factory. The Germans Anja and Radko kindly gave me this contact after Mario invited them off the street to stay.
DAY 590 NATABUELA REST DAY
Today we went on a really nice excursion to hike around the crater lake of a Volcano about 30km away. We first called into the village to get some lunch to take with us. There was a big ferris Wheal in town. Part of the funfair for the weekends celebrations.
To get up to Larguna De Cuicocha we first took a bus to Cuicocha for 45 cents. Here we changed to a taxi for the last 15km up to the Laguna. From here it was about a 10km 3 hour hike around the laguna. It was a really nice hike. The weather was perfect.
DAY 591 NATABUELA – SAN PABLO
START 7:50 FINISH 15:00 (15/10/16)
DISTANCE 32KM RIDE TIME 2H37
It was such a lovely morning to be cycling. The mountains were looking sharp. Within a hour we had reached Otavalo.We called into the Bomberos and asked if we could leave our bikes for a few hours while we went and had a look around the biggest market in South America of Indigoes people selling there wares.
For me it was completely over rated and was just like any old market. Saw the most concentration of tourists in months. I didn’t go away empty handed. I invested $4 on some new woollen gloves and a balaclava for the cold days ahead. I meet back up with Ramon and Katarina for lunch………..they had been shopping for Christmas presents to send home. They needed a few more hours…….so I cycled on alone. I called into the animal market……..thought that could be a little less touristy. Unfortunately it had finished for the day.
About 10km from Otavalo I turned off the Panameracana Highway and cycled around the laguna San Pablo. Towering over the Laguna was the impressive Volcano Barra
I took my time cycling around the Laguna till I got to San Pablo and called in here to spend the night with the Bomberos. Just in time because soon after the rain came.
Today was also animal market day. Everyone was butching in the street, there newly brought animal.
DAY 592 SAN PABLO – EQUATOR
START 7:00 FINISH 14:00 (16/10/16)
DISTANCE 30KM RIDE TIME 2H19
We left the Bomberos just after 7am. I pushed on ahead of Katarina and Roman and started the slow climb. After 8km I reached the top of the pass. I waited 35 mins for them with no sign. So I pushed on to Cambye for lunch. Here I ran in to the Czeks. They had unfortunately been delayed by two punchers. We were only 6km from the Equator. We are planning to camp here, so Katarina and I went to the Mercado to do some shopping, so we could cook tonight.
On the road there is no marking of the Equator. You have to pay $2 to visit the Equator Sun Dial so you can take some photos crossing the line. They also did a interesting talk.
We mentioned to the guide that we wanted to camp here. He took us to his house 200 meters away and asked the owner if we could camp. No problem for $3.50 a person and we were allowed to use the swimming pool and steam room. It was part of a animal farm. There were Peacocks, a baby dear, Tortoises running around.
DAY 593 EQUATOR – TUMBACO
START 7:00 FINISH 11:30 ( 17/10/16)
DISTANCE 62KM RIDE TIME 4H09
Started early again this morning. I left the Czechs behind and pushed on towards Quito. It was very up and down. Lovely day for cycling. Soon a snow caped volcano soon appeared on the Horizon. It was so clear.
Getting closed to Quito, the traffic increased two fold. I still managed to get into Tumbaco before lunch. I had a little trouble trying to find the Casa de Ciclista. I got directed to a bicycle shop, a bicycle restaurant. In the end I had to get a local to call Santiago and he kindly came and picked me up from the town square. Santiago has a large property and he has a covered area where cyclists can camp. The only cyclist already here were my friends Sam & Laura who I sailed over with, from Panama to Colombia. Good to catch up with them. They are ending there trip here and after a year of cycling and returning to the UK.
DAY 594 – 596 TUMBACO REST DAYS
I ended up spending 5 nights in Tumbaco and doing a number of things. In that time I only went in to Quito once. My first priority was to get all the zips on my tent replaced as both the zips on the tent and fly are busted. I am currently keeping the tent closed by using cloths pegs. I sent the fly first to the tailors to see what kind of a job they would do. In the end it was $10 for each fly and $1 to fix my back pack.
Back at the Casa De Ciclista I did some small jobs like proper washing of cloths. Which was well over due, repairing clips on one of the back panniers and some maintenance on the bike.
Wednesday I caught the bus into Quito’s historic old town. A UNICCO world heritage site. After a little wonder round I visited the Culture centre which had a number of photo exhibition and a good view from the roof. I meet Roman And Katrina for lunch. Afterwards Roman and I walked up to the top of the hill to get a great overlooking view of Quito. We had to walk through some questionable nauborhood. Lots of tourists have reported to have been robed. There were lots of police around.
I meet back up with Roman and Katarina at 7pm for the Quito light show. 7 locations around the city. Historic building had been aloumanaited. There turned out to be so many people it was difficult to get from one site to the next. What we did manage to see was good.
DAY 598 – TUMBACO – MACHACHI
START 8:00 FINISH 16:00 (22/10/16)
DISTANCE 55KM RIDE TIME 4H34
I have been dreading trying to get past Quito on the bike. I woke up this morning and seriously thought about staying another day. In the end I decided to just do it. It took all of the morning to get around Quito. It was tough going, over a 600 meter climb and a lot pollution from the traffic. All this combined with the altitude. I was feeling a bit sick. High up on top of the opposite valley to Quito. It was a good view of the city. 6 km before Machachi it started to rain and I was forced to sit it out for a few hours.
Glad I did, because it did clear and I avoided getting wet. When I reached Machachi, it was easy to find the Bomberos and they found me space to camp in the equipment room. I was craving Lasanua, so I went into town in search. Success. While I was in town I ran into a local wearing a All Blacks top. I said All Blacks………you know they won this morning. He didn’t have a clue. I don’t think he even knew who the All Blacks were. After I returned to the Bomberos I discovered a large hole and signs that something had been munching on my bread rolls. Looks like I will be sleeping with some big rats tonight.
DAY 599 MACHACHI – COTOPAXI NP
START 7:30 FINISH 16:00 (23/10/16)
DISTANCE 20KM RIDE TIME 4H01
7:30 am I had to let myself out of the fire station by opening the automatic doors. Because there was no one around. I think they were all sleeping.
Just next to the Fire station was a Sunday market. When I got a little closer I realised it was a small animal market. There were a lot of Chickens for sale. As well as Rabbits, Dogs & Cats. I think the Dogs & Cats were been sold as pets and maybe the rabbits as well.
From here I took the road to Cotipaxi National park. The first 3km was sealed and I thought this was alright. Then I hit the steep cobble stone road. The next 10km was through nice farmland. But was tough going. At 12:30pm the rain came………I dived in to a Hacienda for shelter. Just as well because it started bucketing down. It was pretty flash. I sat next to the fire with a cup of tea to warm up. When I got a gap in the weather. I made a run for it cycling the last 4km up to the entrance to Cotopaxi National Park. It was 4pm and I didn’t want to take the chance to push on to the hotel inside the park. So I asked if I could camp just outside the park in the middle of some pine trees. The volcano was still well hidden by cloud. It was slowly starting to lift. I had a nice little camp site. It was well sheltered. I set up my stove and cooked some dinner. At the same time I started a camp fire as well. It was getting cold, so I enjoyed the warmth from the open fire.
DAY 600 COTOPAXI NP – COTOPAXI NP
START 8;00 FINISH 8:45 (24/10/16)
DISTANCE 3KM RIDE TIME 0H45
I got up at 5:30am in hope that the cloud had lifted from the Volcano. I wasn’t disappointed. Snow caped Cotopaxi was looking spectacular. I watched as the sun slowly started to shine on the snow. It was freezing.
After an hour I returned to the warmth of my tent. It was a great morning as I set off into Cotopaxi National Park. It was only 3km up to the Tambopaxi hotel. Been day 600 of my trip it was a good excuse to stop here. For $7 I have put my tent up in the front grounds with a direct view of Cotopaxi.
As I was putting my tent up the Ecuadorian Air force Helicopter landed nearby before taking off and flying very close to my tent. This went on all morning as they were in training. I spent the rest of the day in the hotel with the warmth of the fire and the view of the volcano….while it lasted. By lunch time the cloud had rolled back in.
DAY 601 COTOPAXI – AMBATO
START 7:10 FINISH 16:30 (25/10/16)
DISTANCE 94KM RIDE TIME 6H00
When I awoke at 5am I looked out he tent and couldn’t see a thing because of the mist. Just 30 minutes later as the sun was starting to rise. I cheeked again and it was beautiful clear and another great view of the volcano.
It didn’t last long. Within a couple of hours. The volcano was again in cloud. It was only 8km to the Laguna. It was full of life. Lots of birds. A few rabbits and some deer. I went for a short walk around the Laguna.
From the Laguna it was all down hill to the park office and then back to the Panameracana. Late in the day I arrived in Ambato and made the mistake of going in. It took me a good hour to work my way across town and when I reached the Bomberos…………I was refused. So I then start to cycle out of the city in peak hour traffic. After a few kms I succumbed to the idea of getting a hotel. For $10 it was a good option. Tv, Wifi and lots of hot water.
DAY 602 AMBATO – CAJABAMBA
START 8:00 FINISH 16:30 (26/10/16)
DISTANCE 73KM RIDE TIME 6H58
When ever you think you are going to have a easy day. It turns out to be twice as hard. It took ne 5 hours to climb the 30km before a 20km decent to Riobambo. I bypassed the centre of Riobambo…chosing to cycle straight out.
I cycled past another snow capped volcano along the way.
When I reached Cajabamba I had better luck with he Bomberos. They have given me a bed in the dormatory. Cajabamba is a very indidues town with everyone wearing the tridisnal Indian dress.
DAY 603 CAJABAMBA-ALAUSI
START 7:30 FINISH 15:30 (27/10/16)
DISTANCE 83KM RIDE TIME 06H00
Today was one of the better recent cycling days. It was cool. But beautiful sunny clear sky’s. It was only a short climb out of Cajabamba. They say you should always take the time to look behind you.
I looked and what I saw was a awesome uninterrupted sight of the 6310 meter snow capped Volcano Chimborazo. Ecuadors tallest mountain and worlds peak the most furthest from the centre of the earth. Helped by its close proximately to the equator. I passed the Laguna Calta. With Chimborazo in the background helped add to its beauty.
I then got to rest the legs as I rolled down the valley parralling with the railway line. It was very scenic. By the end of the day I arrived in Alausi the last 14 km was all down hill. Alausi is a railway town and still has a lot of character with its old colonial building. I found a good hostel on the outskirts of town called Killa Wasi. I am able to camp here for $5 a night.
DAY 605&606 ALAUSI REST DAYS
Saturday I walked the whole town exploring every street. I climbed the small hill to visit the statue and get a nice view over the town. I explored around the railway station and at the north end of town was a large rail bridge.
In all it didn’t take to long to see all of the town. Everyone had left the hostel in the morning and I had the place to my self which was nice. In the evening two girls Yvonne from Germany and Hannah from Austria arrived. They are volunteering in cuenca for a year and had come up on the spere of the moment to alausi for the weekend and were talking about hiking to devils nose. On the rail line. It sounded very interesting and I had soon decided I would do it as well.
Sunday was awesomely sunny clear day. We were all up and ready to go by 7:30 am. The trail pretty much starts at the hostel gate and runs beside the existing rail line.
It was about a 26km round trip. The trail soon ran high above the tracks winding through the mountains. There were fantastic views. We were soon 4 after been joined by a local dog which we soon named Parlo. Parlo lead the way. It obviously wasn’t here first time and probly waited for the tourists each day. High up the hillside was dry.
Lower down was a lush green oais. We descended down to walk through a small village. All the locals in tridional dress were working in the fields. There animals were grazing. Mostly Cows, pigs and a few sheep. The railway line is famous as it is part of the line that links Quito with the sea. At Devils nose the line descends steeply 400 meters and it does this with a number of switch backs. At one stage the train has to go forward and then reverse down the mountain.
We walked the last few km down the tracks and had to move to the side as we herd the train approaching. We took photos of the train and the tourists on board took photos of us. The 1 hour train journey costs $30 while it took us 4 ½ hours to walk.
At the station was a free museum to visit about the history of the line. We left before the train and hiked back up the hill to watch the train pass back through the switch back on it return to Alausi. We took a little short cut back. It still took us 4 hours. Before we left we talked about making pizza. We walked straight back to town to pick up the ingredients. When we got back to the hostel. The owner had already lit the pizza oven. Which was a great help. The girls made a great job of preparing the pizza and a hour later we were in pizza heaven.