This trip report comes from Eric Eisinger and Mark Husted, who set off to Ecuador in the spring of 2017. Eric and Mark have travelled extensively, and both travelled in Patagonia in 2015 with co-founder Kevin Barthelemy.
¡Ama La Vida! ¡Bienvenidos a Ecuador!
Ecuador is not short on adventure, and in March of 2017 we set out to get a taste of that adventure for ourselves. The trip started with whirlwind of delayed flights, wild taxi rides, and crammed bus rides.
Our first stop in Ecuador was the town of Alausi, about a 5 hour bus ride from the airport in Quito. Our introduction with the town was tempered by the fact that we spent hours on a hunt down dark roads outside of town in an attempt to find what can only be described as a well-hidden hostel. The town later won back our hearts when we began our trek of La Nariz del Diablo on foot – an adventure that led us to through a collage of terraced farmland that was staggeringly green and lush to the small town of Guasuntos. We made a couple K9 friends along en route, who trekked with us the whole way.
Our next journey – a trek along the ancient Inca Trail – started from a small nondescript trail near the town of Achupallas. The three-day trek was quite an experience. We battled through ankle deep mud, camped above 14,000 feet, navigated in intense fog, and endured no shortage of rain. The trail, which was as wide as 7 meters at some points and so faint it was hard to follow at others, was once the main thoroughfare for the Inca Empire. Our trek ended at the ruins of Ingapirca and the Incan Temple of the Sun.
The very remote Cajas National Park tested our navigational skills, as there were no trails leading the way. It was so remote in fact that the only people we saw were two local fisherman. Some of the bushwhacking included descents so steep that in our opinion, they should only be attempted in the snow with powder skies! One night, we set up our tent in the fog and in the morning when the fog cleared, we had an amazing view overlooking a lake with rays of sun lighting up the surrounding grass.
We rented bikes in Banos de Agua Santa to ride the infamous La Ruta de Cascada down into the Amazon rainforest and the town of Puyo. We were able to hang with some monkeys, and even got a couple high-fives. In Banos, we hiked to an overlook of the city, ate exotic fruits, rode a swing into the clouds, and tested our balance on a high-stakes balance beam. We trekked around and camped inside the volcanic crater of Volcan Quilotoa. The toxic green lake within the volcano’s crater was so vivid it looked like it belonged on a different planet. We were able to straddle the equator at the Mitad del Mundo (translates to middle of the world) and take in the sights, sounds, and local fare at South America’s most famous outdoor market in Otavalo. We even experienced a live eagle, condor, and hawk flight demonstration.
We were able to pack a lot into two weeks, and we had an amazing trip exploring Ecuador.