The Mega Drive

Adventure driving at its finest is about the only way I can describe what we’ve been up to since our last post in Ecuador. After a gorgeous sunset, a full body massage at the spa in Vilcabamba (which is its own funny story…) and a few stimulating games of giant chess, we set out into the unknown in a big way. What would follow was over 1000 kilometers of dirt, mud, landslides, water crossings, bush camping, remote border crossings, construction, fog, rain and more taking us from the Amazon to the Andes to the Peruvian desert to the Pacific Ocean. I think we truly found the middle of nowhere during this adventure and couldn’t be happier with the Craggin’ Wagon’s ability to bring us through it all. (more…)

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Ticklists, Raindances, and Shredded Tips

Banos: it’s one of those towns that’s toted as an action-adventure, extreme sports place… We really dug Banos, but the extremo part was a bit flaccid. They have a rope jump off a gigantic bridge, but based on the size of the jump compared to the bridge, I imagine the bridge was a bit embarrassed. So sad. Had Chip been with us I think I might have been motivated enough to go show them how things are done! We did do a little climbing while we were there. Nothing to write home about, but fun to get back out on the rock. It had been a while. We parked next to a nice hostel, made some friends up on the balcony overlooking the town and the church, visited the famous hot springs, and consumed many a cerveza while enjoying the beautiful steep hills and numerous waterfalls cascading down them. (more…)

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Ecuador

Quito

There are several places to sport climb and boulder around Quito. We didn’t go to any of them but the info for them can be found at mondedo.com

Banos

There were two obvious spots in Banos to climb. One below the zoo and the other directly under the bridge where the puenting takes place. The puenting by the way while still likely to be a good time is so small a rope jump for the size and potential of the bridge that I was a little embarrassed for them,  though at $20 a jump I hardly think they care what I think. The climbing is grid bolted sport on short basalt. Something to do if your bored but nothing special.

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Cuenca

Paunte – Sport climbing about 40 minutes from Cuenca. Good sport routes. Well bolted but not over bolted. Sharp, positive volcanic rock. Many routes from 5.10 up. Both the description of how to get there and the topo provided on monodedo.com were pretty bad. I’ve added a better description on how to get there and where to camp on Mountain Project here. As for the routes, we never had much luck with the topo, but it’s sport, eyeball and jump on it!

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High in the Andes

After a healthy acclimatization period in Quito we hit the road and drove the Craggin’ Wagon to Cotopaxi. We turned off the road at the first sign we saw for the park and ended up driving a 26km cobblestone/dirt track to a secondary entrance into the park. It was fun and the rig did not disappoint. (more…)

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The Galapagos Islands

I hope you’re ready for a lot of photos because that’s mostly what this post will consist of – namely because I snapped more than 1500 pics during the 7 days we spent there! We couldn’t walk 10 feet without practically stepping on the unique wildlife there and flipping the camera back on. But first, some Galapagos background info for your reading pleasure. (more…)

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Ecuador

Border: Rumichaca, Colombia – Ecuador

Colombia Side

  • Drive past DIAN and immigration office to parking lot and park.
  • Go to DIAN and turn in temporary permit and copy of driver’s passport.
  • Go to immigration window and have passport stamped.

Ecuador Side

  • Before you get to the parking lot there is a military inspection point. We were inspected mostly out of curiosity than anything else. They will wave you to the parking lot.
  • Go to immigration and get stamped.
  • Go to aduana on the left corner of the building.
  • Hand over title/registration, color copy of driver’s passport, color copy of Ecuador passport stamp for driver, and a color copy of license. (When we crossed on a Sunday all copy places on Ecuador side were closed so we walked across the border and got copies there – cost a US $1).
  • They looked at VIN and car and then gave us a permit. Some people are asked to buy insurance but we were not.
  • Make sure they right down the correct border you plan to exit on your permit to avoid hassle leaving for Peru later.

We arrived Sunday, June 23, 2014 at 8:02am and were done on Colombia side at 8:27. We
were done by 9:16 with all border crossing. They used to do a dot matrix on the passports but
have since changed to stamping. The only thing that slowed us down was the need for color
copies and since we needed the passport stamp too we still would have had to do that part
anyway.

Our Route

Ecuador Tips

  • The roads are generally in excellent shape here. The gas, as I’m sure you know, is incredibly cheap ($1.48 p/gallon at time of writing). The occasional toll road only cost $1.
  • SuperMaxi tends to be a reliably good place to get grocery-store-style supplies that you won’t find at mercados and other typical vendors.
  • Quito has a great brewery called Bandito about 5 blocks from the hostels in the old town area. Legit, American style IPAs and Porters for a good price. Tell Ryan we sent you. Great people there.
  • Also in Quito you will find the Guayunga Hostel which has parking for your rig INSIDE there hostel’s courtyard. It’s $5 per night for the car and $3.50 per person/per night to stay. Super nice people, it’s right next to the Secret Garden if you like to party, and the brewery is right down the street. $1.25 grande cervezas don’t hurt either. Wifi reaches the parking and they have electrical for you if you have an extension cord. Bam.
  • Drive the Quilotoa Loop, any vehicle will make it (see below for details).

Quilatoa Loop Info for Overlanders

We camped in a parqueadero in Latacunga, got and early start, and drove to Saquisili for the market to begin the loop.

  • The Thursday morning market is huge!
  • Plaza de Animales is on your right as you leve the town, but you must go there first and early if you want to see all the animals
  • The market really is rip roaring by 10-11am.  Every inch of side walks and streets besides the 8 plazas are taken up by this market
  • Plaza de Gran Colombia has the handicrafts like the stuff sold in Otovalo and the men with old fashioned singer sewing machines all in a row.
  • If you need fruits/vegs/fish wait for this market

Saquisili to Toacaso: 7km

Toacaso – Sigchos: 47 km

Sigchos – Chugchilan: 23 km

In Chugchilan a lot of people stop at the Cloud Forest hostel. Nice people, camping accommodations for overlanders (we opted to drive through to Quilotoa and stay there).

Chugchilan – Quilotoa: 23 km

Quilotoa

  • Crater Lake (Must SEE)
  • Plenty of hostels to stay at if needed.
  • $2 per person entry fee at the gate to the town
  • Camping is easy, free with entry into the town, and the people are helpful to point out places to do so.

Quilotoa – Zumbahua: 12.5km

Zumbahua – Latacunga: 67.5 km

We did the whole route easily on about half a tank of gas.  We filled up on the highway just outside of Latacunga before heading to Saquisili, however we did notice the occasional gas station along the way if you do need gas.

Rd report: Mostly paved roads, with some easy gravel parts until you hit Chugchilan where it turns to very bumpy dirt roads with construction.  This road will be pretty awesome in the next year though. We made the dirt road without any problem without 4 wd.

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