Avenue of the Volcanoes: Part two

Our cool(literally) ride along the Avenida de Los Volcanes already feel like the highlight of our Ecuadorian bike odyssey. The enigmatic parámo that shines bright gold under the sun makes a perfect background to the snow-capped conical volcanoes that break the horizon. I’m trying to curb my temptation still to head straight to Peru now. I’m wondering how the rest of Ecuador can still top what I’ve seen so far.

That and the fact that we were meeting Dang’s whole family in Cusco during her niece and nephew’s summer vacation make me feel rushed. Not a great feeling if you have a laundry list of things you want to see. However, I’m actually quite excited to see those kids even just for a few weeks, but no more than that. They’re too much to handle after that long. Being kids, they have unwavering amount of energy even a touring cyclist can’t match. They remind me of Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian devil character.

Nevertheless, I’m committed(Dang may prolly object) to avoiding the Pan-American Highway despite the time crunch. So here we are still pouring over our digital maps hoping to find the quickest route to Peru without hitting much tarmac, or at least find lesser traffic paved roads( a nice compromise).

Anyway, here’s the conclusion of our ride along the Avenue of the Volcanoes…

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Morning greets us with cold rain and a dash of wind. We dragged ourselves to still ride but soon find ourselves seeking shelter in a school not even 10km from where we camped.
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Sucks to start a ride wet not even 5 minutes out. So weighed our options, either continue to climb up while raining(option 1) or we go detour to Simiatug with a promise of a a warm tea(option 2)
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Easy choice to make. We went down to Simiatug, loosing all the altitude we worked hard to gain.
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But atleast the view was stunning.

 

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We hitched a ride to start back on the route avoiding the hard slog back  up.
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And find ourselves in the warm and steamy confine of an Aguas termales.
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Her spirit is up once again. Dang of course dive in first. From doning a full armada of cold weather layers(see previous photo) to just the bare essential.
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Vulcan Chimborazo making her appearance if rather briefly.
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And look who made its first appearance too! Say hello to the high-pitched vicuñas, the Bambi of the camelid family, found only in the high alpine areas of the Andes.
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They are in high demand for their luxury wools resulting to illegal poaching
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Did I mention we had rain at 4500m on our way down to Cajabamba? Lovely.
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Another scruffy pooch with a bad hair day.
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Having been camping wet for some time now, we decided to take shelter in a school on our way out of Guamote.
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And soon another pooch, this time looking well-groomed than the previous ones, arrived to investigate. Sorry buddy we’re running low on food too.
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The chosen rural mode of transportation. On his way to work(to get his herd)
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We rode past wheat farms…
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farm roads…
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And the occasional double track…
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That then leads to big swat of mountain quilt that covers the mountains…
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Quiet roads…
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The roads here are used most often by horses instead
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More mountain quilts…
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Endless paramo…
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Interrupted only by some singletrack meandering.

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Huge landslides. This one necessitates us to hoist and carry our bikes which then made us sink knee-deep on the saturated soil.  A proof of the wet conditions we encountered.

 

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A late afternoon rain and thigh-high river crossing led to our late arrival in Osogoche. We camped in a makeshift Evangelical church. Istuardo showed up at our camp clutching a bunch of dried wood in an arm and holding a pot of boiled eggs on the other. He immediately got a fire started to warm us up and forced-fed us with the eggs.
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Maria Magdalena. We met her on our way out of Osogoche the following day walking in the pelting rain on her way to fetch her horse and some cows. Our reasons why we’re there seems too trivial compared to hers.
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Nearing Achupallas, Dang can’t stop but thank the rain gods. Rainy days make cloudy ones a cause for celebration.

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We finally made it to Achupallas and was promptly greeted by their lone welcoming committee.

Next stop, the chill and relaxed town of Cuenca.

Nuts and Bolts:
SIMIATUG: Very basic(cold shower incl.) hospedaje in front of the Centro de Salud

Unless you’re planning to detour to Simiatug, you should resupply in Angamarca for a good 2-3 days worth of food.  

The Aguas Termales on the way to Chimborazo charges $2 for entrance incl. camping overnight.

Achupallas, which is the start of the Ecuadorian Inca trail has a few lodging options available.

You can check the whole route here.

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