Bicycle Touring Through Ecuador [Video]
After more than a month of planning, I was finally on my way bicycle touring through Ecuador.
I started in Quito, Ecuador where I had spent the past 6 weeks getting myself prepared for the epic journey that was to follow.
On Monday the 3rd of July I stepped onto my bike, took one last look at my awesome apartment and was on my way.
Watch the video below to see everything I got up to in my first two weeks:
Within only a km or 2, I realised that my bike was way too heavy. How was I going to ride 50km + every day when it’s so hard to control the bike going downhill, let alone riding uphill.
My first stop was only a few km’s away and it was at the local bike shop where Fernando had helped me get my bike ready for my bicycle touring adventure around South America.
He took one look at my bike and laughed. “Why the f**k do you have so much stuff?”
The fact I hadn’t done any training and was extremely unfit definitely didn’t help my cause!
I couldn’t do anything but laugh back because he was right. Why did I buy two weeks worth of food when there were shops every few km’s?
After taking one last look at the bike and making sure I had all of the essentials for repairing my bike if it were to fail, Fernando closed the bike shop so he could ride the first part of the journey with me. Such a nice gesture. Maybe he just wanted to see how I was going to handle so much weight on my bike.
Fernando rode with me for a couple of km’s until he thought it was probably time to go back to the bike shop.
From here on out, I was alone!
Trying to Find Somewhere to Camp
I rode for about 30km until about 3.30pm when I felt tired. Naturally, I started looking for somewhere to stealth camp.
Being my first day on the road I didn’t really know what to look for. Everywhere I looked seemed like private property and there wasn’t really anywhere I could camp that was inconspicuous.
I continued to ride (and walk) my bike for another 15-20km until it started getting dark.
I was really starting to get worried so I just started asking everyone I saw if they knew somewhere nearby I could camp.
Finally, I spoke to a farmer who agreed that I could pitch my tent on his farm for the night.
I followed his truck for about 1km until we reached his farm. He lived in a small shed on the farm with his family, 2 dogs and cows. It was a really cool experience staying the night there and the family was more than welcoming.
I fell asleep straight away and slept for 11 hours straight I was so tired.
In the morning I was woken up by the sound of cows mooing. I tried to pack up my things as quickly as possible so I didn’t overstay my welcome. The farmer (Luis) gave me fresh warm milk from the cows and bread for breakfast.
By 7 am I was back on the road.
I rode for about 10km until my legs couldn’t take it anymore. They were so sore from the day before that I couldn’t even ride my bike in the lowest gear.
As I was walking my bike on the side of the highway at around 11 am, a truck stopped in front of me.
Who could this be? Are they going to steal my stuff? Yell at me for riding on the highway?
I had no idea what to expect.
I see the front door open and couldn’t help but smile. It was Luis and his wife whose farm I stayed at last night!
They happened to be going in the same direction and offered me a lift. Originally I declined but they insisted, so I hopped in.
As I sat in the back of the truck for 2 and a half hours until we arrived in Banos, I couldn’t help but think it would have taken me at least 5-7 days to ride here on my bike.
I just saved myself a whole week!
After arriving in Banos, I rode around town on my bike to look for somewhere to camp. Eventually, I came across a small hostel that allowed me to camp in the backyard for $3USD a night. It was really basic but gave me access to a cold shower and limited access to Wifi.
Banos is a really special town. It’s on the border of where the jungle begins and is surrounded by active volcanoes, mountains, jungle, rivers and hundreds of waterfalls.
While I was in Banos I went white water rafting and hiking.
Originally I was only going to stay for a couple of days but decided to stay for 5 days because it was raining and I didn’t really want to ride my bike in the rain.
And for some reason, I thought hiking was a better idea…
Avenue of Waterfalls
It had been a week since I left Quito when I finally got back on my bike and rode along the avenue of waterfalls. It was spectacular.
Hundreds of waterfalls crashing down into a massive river in the jungle. It was such an incredible view for about 30km of riding on the bike.
I stopped at one of the waterfalls to go for a swim and that was really special. It was about a 30min walk from the road to the waterfall. This meant that you couldn’t see anything besides the beautiful jungle, waterfalls and rivers.
I was having such a great time that I ended up staying for a couple of hours. I wasn’t ready to leave and start riding again but I knew that if I wanted to make it to Puyo by the end of the day, I’d have to get back on the bike.
Monkey Refuge in Puyo
Eventually, I got back on the bike and rode until I got to a Monkey refuge in the jungle town of Puyo.
I asked if I could camp next to the car park and they said that was fine, no charge. The people who had a house next to the car park let me shower (bucket over head) and hand wash my clothes.
When it started to get dark the jungle came alive with hundreds of different sounds from exotic jungle creatures.
In the morning I visited the refuge and saw all of the monkeys, snakes, ant eaters, turtles, wild boar and many other native animals that you see on David Attenborough documentaries.
The owner of the refuge told me that my tent was in prime snake territory. I’m glad I didn’t know this when I was sleeping. They are all so well camouflaged you would never see them coming.
Riding Through The Amazon Jungle
At 12:30 the next day, I started riding again and made my way to a small community 20km away.
This was 10km along a side road into the deep jungle. The local family/tribe had a property next to the river in the middle of nowhere. I pitched my tent for $4USD a night next to the river for 2 nights.
I was able to eat with the family and workers since I was the only other person there. They served me freshly caught fish and chicken for dinner. It was deliciously fresh!
The next day, I walked around the river and jungle and saw a few Caiman (small crocodiles) which was exciting. One of them attacked one of the dogs that was with me, but thankfully, the dog got away.
Spending 2 days in the deep jungle meant that I was eaten alive by mosquitos and other jungle bugs. I was covered in bites from head to toe. If you go to the jungle, make sure you cover yourself up when it starts to get dark!
I had 2 trusty companions while staying there though. Two wild dogs that literally followed me everywhere during my whole stay. They even slept outside my tent protecting me from the night animals.
After 2 incredible days, it was time to leave. I got back on my bike and started riding.
As expected, the 2 dogs ran with me for 6km until they got exhausted and stopped. One of them couldn’t even see me but kept following the way he saw me go and eventually caught up to me because it was a big hill and I was walking.
It felt really sad watching these dogs follow me. They probably hadn’t eaten in days and were spending all their energy trying to stay with me.
I hope they’re alright.
I rode for about 60km through the jungle roads.
It didn’t really hit me that I was literally in the middle of nowhere until I started looking for food and water. There were small towns (1-2 houses) every 20km but none of them had any shops. It was somewhat exhilarated knowing that there wasn’t any civilisation in either direction.
Eventually, I came to a small town that had one small store and bought some water and a packet of chips (they didn’t have anything else).
After I couldn’t ride any longer, I hopped on a bus with my bike and went to a town called Macas.
The town itself was quite big. I had some traditional Ecuadorian dish for dinner and spent the rest of the time in my hostel room.
The hostel I stayed in was only $15USD a night for a private room. This was my first night in a bed for about 10 days so I was pretty excited.
The room had a double bed, clean shower and was nice to relax in for 18 hours before leaving.
Taking a Bus to Cuenca
Originally I was going to skip Cuenca because it was in the mountains and I was at a lower altitude in the jungle (and didn’t really want to ride back to the mountains) but since everyone kept recommending it, I took a bus there.
It was a 6-hour bus journey all uphill that would have taken me at least 2 weeks to do on the bike!
Cuenca was interesting.
It reminded me of a European city with its beautiful architecture, sunny streets, luscious parks and calm rivers scattered throughout the city.
Cycling in Cuenca was a lot of fun. With so many beautiful things to see and do, I definitely recommend you hire a bicycle if you ever visit Cuenca.
While in the city, I decided to get my Yellow Fever injection (Health care is free in Ecuador, even for foreigners), went hiking with some Swedish guys to the Cajas National Park and ate $1 hamburgers until I felt sick.
It was an exciting first two weeks bicycle touring through Ecuador.
I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice speaking Spanish with the locals, ride through the mountains and explore the Amazon jungle for the first time.
Although I took the bus and hitch hiked part of the journey, I enjoyed riding my bike through the different landscapes that Ecuador has to offer.
Now, I’m planning on crossing the border to Peru and visiting a small beach town called Mancora.
Have you ridden your bike through Ecuador? Where did you go?
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