Raced motorcycles in El Salvador, go-karts and rally cars in Mexico. He races cars in Germany.
Ecuador is the veritable “bike heaven”, something I have known all my life. Years ago I based my opinion on the lure of thousands of miles of unpaved secondary roads, today, with so much asphalt, the country has become a different kind of paradise: where else can you breakfast hard by a tributary to the Amazon in the rain forest, cross two Andean passes (with their incredible views) during lunch and swim in the Pacific come evening.
Working with Motorides and Exclusive Tours I have had the opportunity to organize more than a couple of outings. The last was with Welsh tourists, several friends who were born with the British motorsport and were cemented in the German motorsport.
Nothing like a quick ride to the north of Quito, lunch in Cayambe, Pululahua Caldera and drop down to Mindo and its environs to leave visitors agog with our vistas, impressed with the quality of the roads and scared stiff of the traffic and the apparent chaos.
Working with Motorides and Exclusive Tours I have organized a couple of outings.
Rain forest noises and Pacific-bound waters down the western slopes of the Andes serenade the tired group to sleep at Mindo Gardens Hotel. We had already spent a day getting used to the altitude and visiting colonial Quito. How to better this first biking day? Easy. From Mindo to Santo Domingo via Los Bancos, climbing the Andes again via the Tambo road and contemplating the valley of Machachi from the heights of Aloag: a stunning panorama, as the climb had been done in heavy fog!! Third world roads, fog, trucks, iffy bathrooms at gas stations are not for the squeamish. Bikers, however, know these things and worse, wherever they come from.
The effort in thorough preparation pays dividends. An accident results in a slight inconvenience thanks to our chase pick up and the prompt and expert service offered by the BMW dealer and Alvarez Barba S.A. The repaired bike re-joins us at La Ciénega Hotel.
Eight biking days go by in the blink of an eye. Chimborazo’s páramo (highlands), even without seeing the mighty mountain due to clouds, is a marvel to behold. It´s herd of guanacos (small cousins to the Llama) are out in force, the indigenous communities, hidden among clouds, leave lasting impressions on visitors. Imagine, tilling the land by hand at 12.000 feet.
We discover the Riobamba-Macas highway as we descend into Amazonia. The Hosteria Arrayan & Piedra welcomes us riders and we immediately empty the beer cooler by the pool.
Incredible vistas of the Upano River are background to dinner and breakfast. Next stop, Baños via Riobamba. Same road by popular demand allows us to re-experience the lush vegetation of Sangay National Park, the scenery of the Atillo lagoons and so many turns and twists. A long day ends at Luna Run Tun Hotel, Baños which offers perhaps the best vistas in the Americas. The Tungurahua volcano, for once not covered by clouds, towers over us in all its glory. A bonus. Every day, I tell my mates, “you ain’t seen nothing yet” and they start to believe, talking about when and with whom they will be back.
Not all is a delight: another encounter with an immovable object makes me warn the guilty part involved in the first accident, that one more will see him riding the chase truck, if he survives; a tremendous downpour on the way to Puyo forces us to seek shelter twice, small dues to pay for experiencing Ecuador’s Amazon basin. Based at Casa del Suizo Hotel, on the Napo river, we swim, cavort and navigate the waterway while also visiting the Amazoologico and trekking through the jungle. Another “must” that is added to the list.
The Baeza and Papallacta road do not cease to amaze the Brits, and once we reach the Termas Hotel, high in the Eastern Andes, they cannot credit what they see or the quality of the hotel welcoming them. Early risers get to bask in a hot pool while looking at the eternal snows of Antisana towering over them. The last day is here. We use it getting down to Pifo, destination Imbabura province and its lakes. We play too long, time catches up with us and the return to Quito is hurried. Many places remain unvisited, not a problem though, my friends will be back with more friends and families, and I hope, to ride again with me in this, my personal paradise.