southern ecuador

macara to cuenca

24th december

san antonio to cuenca

A short day, downhill in to Cuenca. As with cycling in to most big cities, the traffic become heavy but there was a good hard shoulder most of the way.  Cuenca is a beautiful city with old cobble street in the centre and european style period buildings.  We splashed out for Christmas and stayed in a really nice hotel (Hotel Forum).  There are also many good bike shops if you need repairs but they are expensive!   

23rd december

susudel to san antonio

From Susudel, there is a pass up to about 3500.  It is not at steep as previous climbs so progress was faster than expected.  There are restaurants and cafes along the way so no need to carry much uphill.  In San Antonio, there are no official hotels.  We stayed in a family home that rented out a room.

22nd december

cuipamba to susdel

A days of big uphills and downhills.  All on tarmac roads with shops along the way.  Susudel has no hotels but we were told of a Casa Communal that we could possible stay at. However, when we got there and asked for directions to it, the old lady shop keeper offered us a room above her shop.  No bed but a clean warm room!  She was not at all happy that our puppy caught one of her chickens the following morning... no harm done in the end but she was pretty angery.  

21st december

catamayo to cuipamba

The "tar" incident put us back a couple of days and we had plans to be in Cuenca for Christmas so we hopped a life for 70km and started cycling from there.  Uphill for most of the way to a small road side restaurant that had a nice cabin for rent for the night.  So we stopped here - they also had a shop that sold local products like cheese and sweets. We fully recommend the peanut butter squares!  

Cycled the second part of the day

Cycled the second part of the day

Taking a lift in the morning to get us back on track for Christmas

Taking a lift in the morning to get us back on track for Christmas

19th december

cariamanga to catamayo

A day to remember!  We set off from Cariamanga knowing that the afternoon would bring rain ( a lot of rain).  The road was tarmac until the town of Gonzamana with some steep climbs towards the end.  We arrived here for lunch before the rain and found a small restaurant on the main square.  Once we left, the road became rough again and a huge thunder storm started.  Our fat bikes handled the mud well and we were having fun cycling in the mountains in the storm.  But then disaster!!!  The roads were in the process of being tarmaced... there were no signs or diversions on the road.  As we hit the downhill, we went straight through a section of road with fresh tar.  Before we realised what was happening, we had already crossed about 100m on the tar.  It sprayed everywhere! We were completely covered in think, black tar... the bikes, the gears (now unable to change gears), the breaks (which would work), our panniers and all of our gore-tex waterproof clothes.  It was a disaster.  About 15km later, the tarmac road restarted and the rain stopped.  We saw a small roadside cafe and stopped to assess the damage.  Everything was covered in tar!  A trucker syphoned some diesal for us, the waiter brought us some rags and let us use a hose and we started to clean everything with the petrol.  After 5 hours, the bikes were road worthy but it was night time.  The waiter gave us a free cake and coffee and another trucker offered to take us to the town (which was all downhill).  In Catamayo, we spent another day cleaning the bikes again with petrol.  Everything was aved except for our gore-tex waterproofs... they were the only things that were ruined.     

18th december

utuana to cariamanga

A huge downhill (20km!) on rough roads to a large town.  We passed small villages but didn't need to stop so unsure of shops etc.  Amazing views all the way down and we beat the rain to the town.  Cariamanga has all the shops, restuarants, hotels that we needed but otherwise a pretty uninspired town.  It did mark the begining of the tarmac road. 

17th december

sozoranga to utuana (wild Camp)

More steep climbing on rough roads.  No villages or shops along the way so we carried what we needed.  There are many wild camp spots along the way but we wanted to make to the village for dinner.  However, after a whole day of climbing, we arrived at a very basic village in thick fog - viability only 15-20 meters.  We found a small patch of flat land to camp on that night.  In the morning, with bright blue skies, we had breakfast in the village accompanied by two drunk locals.  No danger or intimidation.  A huge downhill from here but again not shops until the next town so we carried some snacks and water. 

Morning section - before loosing GPS 

Morning section - before loosing GPS 

Afternoon section - after loosing GPS 

Afternoon section - after loosing GPS 

16th december

macara to sozoranga

We decided to get off the Panamerican highway and use the more remote dirt roads to the east.  Actually, most of these roads are now tarmac and the ones that are still rough are being prepared for tarmac!  Nevertheless, they are super quiet with many small villages along the way so the cycling was fun.  In Sozoranga, there is one hotel but it is not sign-posted... look for the pink house on the way into town from the south.  ($15/night).