Southern Hemisphere life. Ecuador 1.

imageEquator crossing achieved, few days south of the Ecuador-Colombian border. It’s hard to miss, going south along the Panamerican highway just look for the giant orange pole sticking out of the ground. Since entering Ecuador, rode out on the first stretch of non-highway routes south to Tumbaco and the Casa de Ciclistas at Santiago’s house, just outside of Quito. One night of food poisoning en route, and the rest of the last week has been resting, recovering, cleaning everything.

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Dwarf statue. First landmark to look for in Equador, this weird little dwarf statue marks the turnoff onto the dirt roads leading up into El Angel reserve, a section of pàramo peaking at 3800m.

imageEn route to El Angel, high altitude patchwork Andean fields.

imageLucky to catch the sun during the ride up.

imageAs night fell, the clouds rolled in and threw the entire area into a misty wet field. The route peaks at 3800m at the refuge/visitor center/hostel being built, where a path winds out to 3 of the lakes up top. Visibility tends to be minimal in the mornings.

imageThe plants on the pàramo grow nowhere else. Here one of many examples of the frailejon, which cover the hills all around. The plants up this high filter moisture from the wet air, and are one of the major water sources of Ecuador.

imageOther pàramo plants. Spotted on the climb up: first wild blueberries seen in a long time.

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imageOn the way down: first spotting of fabled Ecaudorian cobblestone roads. Quite popular. Quite bumpy on a bike.

imageHigh mountain route through Ecuador is a corridor winding between one volcano after another.

imageThough their peaks tend to be constantly covered by clouds, they’re quite an imposing sight sticking up above small towns.

imageNeighborhood supermarket.

imageFriendly town welcome statue.

imageSpanish influence easily seen in town centers dominated by a plaza and church combination.

imageCasa de Ciclista life. Santiago in Tumbaco is one of the oldest CdCs in South America. He’s been welcoming passing cyclists in for the last 24 years. All of the casas are just homes that people have opened up to those travelling through over the years. Santiago runs a bike repair shop in part of the house, and cyclists camp throughout the backyard. It’s an amazing extension of Latin American hospitality. There were 7 other cyclists at the house when I arrived, and throughout the whole weeks people set off alone or in pairs and are soon replaced by newcomers. Last year, Santiago hosted nearly 200 cyclists alone, and the number keeps growing.

imageTire swap time for me. Switching to a pair of more aggressive mountain bike tires for the dirt roads to come throughout Ecuador and Peru and south. Been carrying this set since Costa Rica (thanks M&M for bringing them out!), happy to put an end to carrying the extra weight.

imageBike clean and overhaul a popular task.

imageAustrian Alex getting ready to continue north.

imageSendoff for American Matt and German Daniel, heading south into the Ecuadorian Amazon.

imageThe Casa´s proximity to Quito makes for an easy day trip to Ecaudor’s capitol. The old town a nice mix of colonial churches.

imageAlong with Dutch cyclists Rosa y Rosa who rode up from Argentina, and Englishman Paul who came down from Alaska, we head into Quito in search of famed ice cream.

imagePlethora of Ecuadorian fruits make for many delicious flavors.

imageSearching out La Basílica, a church cathedral who’s towers offer views out over the city.

imageInside the stone staircases up.

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imageNestled into a mountain valley, Quito´s growth is bounded by the narrow valley walls, and thus stretchs longways down into the valley.

Been a restful few days. Thanks to Santiago, Ana Lucia and family. Off next headed for the second stretch of off-road Ecuadorian routes.

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