I arrived safely in Ecuador and I was very well received in this new country.
I crossed the border between Ipiales and Tulcan, without any worries despite the protests and blockages.
Arriving on the other side of the border, I was greeted by Wendy, a friend who hosted me in San Gabriel where she practices as a doctor.
We visited different places and I met many very nice people.
In San Gabriel, I was able to collaborate with two local radio stations in order to share my project but also to seek contacts related to Huntington’s disease in the country.
The day after my arrival after long negociations they finally found an agreement between the government and indigenous communities despite weeks of protestations in the entire country. The entire road network was released (because all the roads was blocked), a great relief for me who is about to cross Ecuador by bike.
San Gabriel is a town located in the state of Carchi (north of Ecuador) and rises to over 3000m above sea level, so the nights are freezing.
It’s already been a few weeks that I’ve been living in the cold and the rain after months in extreme heat, a radical change ! And to cool off (if it’s not cold enough with the wind, the rain and 5 degrees) you can eat an ice cream with cheese on it, a local specialty that I discovered here and which surprised me a lot.
It’s really great to be welcomed like that in Ecuador, I’ve already met some very nice people here !
I’ve spent some time with a farming family lately and I loved it !
It was a very interesting experience, I learned a lot about their work and also about the Ecuadorian culture.
Here, we are in Tabacundo, a village in the sierra (surrounded by big mountains), which is very famous for its cultivation of flowers that they export all over the world.
I had the pleasure of sharing with Augusto, Magdalena and their family. They have lots of land where they grow corn and also raise animals.
In Ecuador, we eat guinea pig and I could see the breeding of the latter in this farm.
I even had the opportunity to drive a tractor, it’s definitely much bigger than my bike.
The surrounding landscapes are really magnificent, we are at an altitude of more than 3000m and we can observe peaks up to 5000m +.
Besides, the most famous summit in the region is called the Cayambe volcano and you can see the snow on its summit from the farm where I was.
A fabulous encounter and wonderful people, I have one more family and now in Ecuador. Thank you so much for you warm welcome guys !!
Quito is the capital and most populous city of Ecuador. Located in a valley of Pichincha, an active volcano, at an elevation of 2850m (second highest capital in the world)
I was very pleasantly surprised by this city. The architecture is beautiful, it’s organized, clean and it’s gigantic.
In some parts of the city I had the impression of being in Europe (historic center) then in the United States with huge boulevards and many shopping centers and also in Latin America. It’s a very diverse city and definitely worth a visit.
Quito’s historic center is among the largest and best-preserved in the Americas. In 1978, Quito were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO.
In the city, there’re plenty of activities to do, a lot of museums, gorgeous parks, churches, visit the markets, take a cable car and hike a volcano. Quito is also very well situated, we can go to Cotopaxi (the most famous volcano in Ecuador), Quilotoa Crater (an other volcano), visit the « Mitad del Mundo » monument…
I had a very good time there and also met nice people. In fact, Quito is now one of my favorite capital in latin america. It’s a huge city surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, it’s very easy to get out of the city and get fresh air.
Cotopaxi volcano park
I had the pleasure to ride around Cotopaxi Volcano National Park and it was a wonderful experience.
I started from the refuge at 4800m and went all the way down, that was the first time I ride my bike at this altitud.
It’s very challenging but definitely worth it , the national park is a wonderful place to enjoy nature and high mountains.
Cotopaxi come from the Cayapa language. « Coto » means « neck », « pagta » means « sun » and « shi » can be translated as « sweet ». Literally : « Sweet neck of the sun »
Cotopaxi is an active volcano in the Andes, located in Latacunga region and it’s the second highest summit in Ecuador, reaching a height of 5897m.
Cotopaxi Summit – 5897m
It had been a few years since I had climbed a high peak. What a joy to rediscover these sensations!
Being at Cotopaxi Volcano Park, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to climb this beautiful active volcano.
The ascent is steep and we walk at night in order to have the most compact snow possible. So we slept in a refuge at 4800m and we started the ascent at 1am.
Crampons, ice ax and roped because there are glaciers with crevasses.
The end of the climb was really intense, the slope was getting steeper and the crampons weren’t gripping because the snow was too soft. I was just sinking and wasting a lot of energy. And at this altitude, such an effort is very energy-consuming.
Between 5600m to the top it was really difficult, each step required incredible strength and I was very out of breath.
It’s really interesting how the body reacts to the altitude, I was well acclimatized and didn’t have others intense symptoms of altitude sickness.
It’s really nice to be back in this environment, the Andes, beautiful and very high mountains, everything I love !
So I broke my record with this new summit at 5897m, thanks to the « Pachamama » for giving us this incredible show.
Quilotoa is 178km south west from Ecuador’s capital Quito, located in Cotopaxi province, near to Latacunga.
It’s a volcano crater filled by a lagoon and the colors are wonderful.
There are different trails to visit the crater and you can go through different aboriginal villages where they speak Kichwa.
I had a really good time visiting this volcan. The altitude is 3900m so better being acclimatize before hiking.
Chimborazo volcano national park
I had the pleasure to crossed this wonderful national park and it was a unique experience.
It’s very steep and windy to get there and I had the chance to met someone who dropped me off at the entrance to the park.
From there, I was at 4800m and only had to go downhill. The park is surrounded by beautiful nature and I even spotted somes vicunas.
The vicuna is a wild animal living in the high alpine areas of the Andes. They’re relatives with lamas and are ancestors of alpacas.
Chimborazo is the highest volcan and mountain in Ecuador, with 6268 meters above sea level.
Scientists do agree that the peak of Chimborazo volcano is the furthest point from the center of the earth’s core, and the closest point on earth to the sun.
Unfortunately I couldn’t climb to the summit because it was closed due to bad weather. But I had the opportunity to camp in front of the volcano at night, it was such an experience.
1- My bike and I on a bridge with sunshine
2- Victor Manuel is a farmer and I camped in his field. He brought me coffee and bread at night and woke me up with a wonderful breakfast (thank you so much Victor)
3- A gorgeous landscape where I camped on my way to Cuenca
4- Cuenca city is beautiful and lot of colonial architecture. On this picture we can see the cuenca sign and the cathedral « Immaculate Conception of Cuenca »
5- The cathedral « Immaculate Conception », a symbol of Cuenca. Commonly referred to as the « New Cathedral »
6- The river « Tomebamba » is famous in Cuenca for the locals who like sitting on the banks.
7- An aborígene little girl from Ecuador who speaks Kichwa. (Picture from the museum « Pumapungo » in Cuenca)
8- Pachamama graffiti who represents « Mother-earth »
Trip statistics 📊
I know you guys like to know the distances traveled so here are my numbers in Ecuador and in total from Mexico.
🇪🇨 Distance in Ecuador : 1119km
Elevation gain : 23 940m
🌎Distance total in my trip : 6022km
Elevation gain : 80 190m
As you can see it is not the distance that is impressive but above all the elevation gain.
I spend most of my time in the mountains and climbing is really difficult and challenging when you have a heavy bike like a truck.