Offices for Adventure Tour Galapagos

Land of the Imbayas Biking Adventure

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Get Immersed in the Local Culture

Effort: Moderate, some biking experience recommended.
Activities: Mountain biking, hiking, cultural immersion, train ride.

Itinerary

DAY 1: BIKE TUMBACO VALLEY & VISIT QUITOLOMA

Our first ride starts just 20 minutes outside of Quito. The trail follows an abandoned railroad track that
was once used to transport goods out of Quito and into Ecuador’s rural north. The scenery is beautiful,
with flowers and hummingbirds along the tracks, and we pass under a series of tunnels, over a river, and
through quaint rural towns. The ride is slightly uphill, but it is very easy. The slight climb helps us build
endurance and acclimate, and the wide, flat trail allows us to grow familiar with our bikes before heading
to more remote and difficult terrain. We enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.

Weather and energy dependent, we head towards Quitoloma in the afternoon. Quitoloma is one of
the world’s largest pre-Inca ruins, but it remains mostly unexcavated. After exploring the ruins, we hop
back on our bikes and begin a short but tough climb. At 3,838 m (12,668 ft), we crest and begin an
exhilarating downhill ride, during which we will descend about 1,050 m (3,500 ft). Along this spectacular
descent, we enjoy views of glaciated Volcan Cayambe, known the mountain of light. We end our ride
at the equator, where we learn about the mythology and powerful significance of the equator to pre-Inca
cultures like the Imbaya. We enjoy dinner and spend the night at Hacienda Miraflores. (BL, D)

DAY 2: RIDE TO OTAVALO MARKET

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DAY 2: RIDE TO OTAVALO MARKET
After enjoying views of Cayambe during breakfast, we head to the nearby village of Zuleta, home to
some of the most renowned indigenous embroiderers in Ecuador. As we appreciate their work and learn
about their techniques, we also sample the town’s famous cheeses. After a pleasant visit, we begin our
ride, passing through indigenous farmland as we cruise down the slopes of Volcan Imbabura. As we ride,
we admire magnificent views of Lago San Pablo and the surrounding volcanic peaks.

We then continue down a narrow path past the town of Peguche and on to Otavalo, home to one of the
largest indigenous markets in Latin America. The Otavaleños are particularly famous for their textiles,
and the market is full of ponchos, sweaters, tapestries, and blankets. Artisans also sell panama hats,
paintings, jewelry, and more. On the edges of the market, restaurants serve local dishes like fritada and
llapingachos. With its delicious aromas, bright colors, and traditional music, the Otavalo market is a true
feast for the senses. After getting our fill of shopping and bargaining, we head to Hacienda Pinsaqui, a
colonial hacienda with over three centuries of history, for the night. (B, L, D)

DAY 3: CHOTA VALLEY SINGLE-TRACK & SCENIC TRAIN RIDE

This morning, we drive to the small city of Ibarra, where we begin our ride. Today we cycle through a dry
forest ecosystem filled with cacti and elongated acacia trees, very different from the paramo and cloud
forests of the previous days. We ride a fun single-track trail down into the valley of the Chota River, whose
fertile riverbanks are a stark contrast to the surrounding dry forest. The Chota valley has a strong Afro-
Ecuadorian presence, and is famous for producing great footballers. After a leisurely ride through this
unique area, we trade bikes for the rails, taking a scenic train ride back up into the higher lands of Salinas
de Ibarra. As we steam along this historic route, we admire the scenic landscape of fruit plantations and
small Afro-Ecuadorian towns. We dine and spend the night at Polylepis Lodge. (B, L, D)

DAY 4: EL ANGEL RESERVE & SPELETIA FOREST

For a change of pace, we start the day with a hike through nearby El Angel Ecological Reserve. El Angel
is home to two unique, endemic forests. Our hike starts through one of Ecuador’s best-preserved Polylepis
forests. The Polyepsis is a strange tree that grows above the natural tree line and has multi-layered,
papery bark. Oddly enough, its closest relative is the rose. We ford a river and climb a waterfall before
arriving at another endemic ecosystem, the Giant Speletia (Frailejon) forest. With their long hairy leaves,
these bizarre bushes make for a truly unique landscape. After our hike, we enjoy lunch at Polylepis Lodge
and drive to the other side of the reserve, where we begin biking through more Giant Speletia forest. Our
route takes us through classic Andean scenery and several tiny rural villages that seem untouched by time.
After arriving at the town of Inguesa, we return to our vehicles and head back to Hacienda Pinsaqui for
our last evening in Northern Ecuador. (B, L, D)

DAY 5: MOJANDA CRATER LAKES DOWNHILL
For our last ride, we head to Mojanda, a group of three beautiful crater lakes at 3,500 m (11,600 ft) of
elevation. We drive over some rough terrain to reach the trailhead, but this ride will be well worth the
long and difficult approach. The trail starts off shallow, but before long we are blasting down a steep
downhill, weaving along narrow trails and enjoying incredible views of the volcanic landscape. It won’t
take long for you to realize we’ve saved the best for last. As we descend, the high mountain cloud forest
transitions to dry forest, and eventually we end up in the village of Collagal. The locals here are always
surprised to see cyclists in their tiny agricultural village, and we’re sure to get some hoots and odd looks
as we ride through town. We enjoy a celebratory lunch at Guayllabamba, famous for serving the best
Locro de Papas (potato soup) in Ecuador, and return to Quito in the afternoon. (B, L)

 

Quick Facts

Included
Bilingual adventure guide, private
transportation, high-quality mountain bikes (Shimano Deore components, 27 speed, front suspension, disc brakes) and protective gear, accommodations in colonial haciendas and lodges, national park entrance fees, all meals as described (B = Breakfast,
L = Lunch, BL = Box lunch, D = Dinner).

 

Not Included
Hotel & restaurant beverages, tips
and personal expenses.

 

Note
This itinerary is subject to change without notice due to seasonal changes, inclement weather conditions, and the discretion of the guide.

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