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between jungle and mountains
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 08 February 2019

We arrive in Ecuador via a tiny border post, nested in the jungle between high mountains. Needless to say there’s no internet and the customs paperwork takes a few hours.... But the people seem immediately very friendly and come to great us, to talk car and travel. They all come with their advice on what to visit in their country.

lama cajas lama cajas

Second observation, against our thoughts, the roads in Ecuador are really good, even in rather remote areas. They are so wide that 3 cars can drive side by side, so ecuadorians drivers don’t wait for the road to be cleared before overtaking.

montagne 1 montagne 1 montagne 2 montagne 2

Driving across the cities of Loja and Cuenca, we discover old colonial city centers, quite well kept.

Cuenca Cuenca

After the tropical landscapes (including heat and mosquitoes), the road climbs up above 3000m, we loose 10°C and it starts to rain... Despite the wet weather, we go and visit the park Podocarpus where a nice hike at 3400m gives a nice view over the Paramo, the high andean flora.

podocarpus 1 podocarpus 1 podocarpus 2 podocarpus 2

A little bit higher, the national park Cajas has many trails at above 4000m high around pretty lakes surrounded by quenoa forests, theses trees with red peeled trunk which grow at very high altitude. There are also some lamas, but no puma or spectacle bear (endemic to ecuador).

cajas 1 cajas 1 cajas 2 cajas 2

cajas 3 cajas 3 cajas 4 cajas 4

Some (high) valleys further are Ingapirca ruins, a major archaeological site of Ecuador. The Incas settled there after the conquered the Canari civilization. An Inca “road” (still partially existing) linked this site to the famous Machu Pichu, some thousands kilometers away.

Ingapirca Ingapirca

montagne 3 montagne 3 montagne 4 montagne 4

Despite our hopes, the weather is still bad, making us give up some hikes. We drive by the area of Banos, and admire the numerous canyons and waterfalls. Some roads are heavily eroded by the water, we cross many fords before being stopped by a collapsed road.

banos banos effondrement effondrement

Later, we camp at the foot of the volcano Chimborazo, the highest of the country at 6310m. At this altitude, we are cold and we hardly saw the summit between 2 clouds... but we could see many vicunas!

chimborazo 1 chimborazo 1 chimborazo 2 chimborazo 2

As we continue our way, we drive down 4000m in 2 hours, and the landscape changes from a deserted plateau to a lush jungle. Before setting up to the coast (and a better weather?) we stop by the Quilotoa crater lake : the road up there is rough but rewarding!

jungle jungle quilotoa 1 quilotoa 1

chimborazo 2 chimborazo 2



#1 fox 2019-04-25 22:06
These areas look so peaceful, even the closed lamas look impassive!

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