This is a guest post by Andre Rahmer (an expat living in Quito) of AndesBaseCamp.
Living in Ecuador has many beneﬁts.
The one I enjoy the most is that this country has everything I can ask for when it comes to satisfying my addiction of traveling, exploring and adventure.
Surﬁng along the broad beaches, biking / hiking in the Andes, or canyoning in the Amazon.
Ecuador has it all – squeezed into an area with the size of Nevada. No need to say that this is perfect road-trip material.
Today I want to share my favorite road-trip through the Andes. A tour from Cuenca to Quito – 921km of pure fun!
Our ﬁrst stop is the small village of Cañar, located only 40min outside of Cuenca. The small town possesses the largest inca ruins in Ecuador including a temple of the sun. They may not be as spectacular as Machu Picchu but what brings this constellation of bricks and pieces of foundation back to life is the fascinating story behind it. The local guides are very knowledgeable and offer tours in English.
Further north, the next stop is the adventure capital: Baños. Surrounded by more than 100 waterfalls and the active Tungurahua volcano, the city is a must-see.
Paragliding, canyoning, mountain biking or a ATV tour, Baños has it all. After a full day of activities, the city invites you to a relaxing evening in one of the many exclusive spas.
Only 160km further north the water-ﬁlled caldera is waiting to be discovered. The Quilotoa volcano is one of my highlights along the route and represents a great place for hiking, biking, and if you are up to, even riding a donkey down the crater.
Only a few minutes away from the lake basic accommodation is available. Emphasis on basic!
Before entering the capital of Ecuador, we need to make one more stop in the small town of Otavalo, located two hours north of Quito.
Otavalo is famous for its large artisanal market and its indigenous population. Especially on Saturdays the market brings the city to a standstill. Besides a wide range of hand-made Ecuadorian products such as Panama hats, weavings, jewelry and clothes, the market also represents the perfect spot to try some Ecuadorian dishes as well as delicacies from the neighboring countries Peru and Colombia. Yummy!
After visiting rather small towns and villages along the trip, Quito impresses with a big-city feeling. So, where to start? I recommend staying in one of the smaller B&B around the historical center as it represents the perfect base to discover the city and its surrounding.
With its many authentic restaurants, bars and galleries, the famous street La Ronda is a great spot to stroll through – especially at night. Afterwards, take a taxi to the buzzing Plaza Foch, drink a beer and dive into Quito’s nightlife.
Visiting Quito and not going to the largest neo-gothic basilica in the world is like going to the Galapagos and not snorkeling. The basilica is a must-see!
And it’s also so much fun! I never had to climb up so many narrow ladders (inside and outside the building) nor walk over a church’s attic on old borderline-stable planks before to reach the top.
Quito and the Andes are the perfect playground for outdoor fanatics, adventurer and travelers. The possibilities are endless and if the wanderlust overcomes you, you know where to go now. Happy traveling!
I made an interactive map for readers to visualize the tour a bit better.