We leave our nice place at the hotsprings of Jamanco and drive via Baeza to Oriente, the Amazonas lowlands of Ecuador
The temperature rises constantly to more than 30 degrees together with high humidity. Our journey ends in Archidona in front of a hanging bridge which definitely is too small for us. However right next door is a nice place on the river after our fancy and we spent the Easter holidays there.
Via Tena, the hotspot for whitewater kayaking, we follow the road to Misahualli and end again in front of a hanging bridge for 10 tons max which leads over the rough Rio Napo. We measure the max height and come to something in between 3,5m to 3,7m. Could fit but….. As we want to use MOMO without any defects for longer we decide to take the deviation from 20km to come to our destination, a nice jungle lodge. The lodge is managed from a local women commune and is picturesque situated. We stay a few days but some bugs which you cannot even see torture us day and night. In addition I get a tennis elbow. The women recommend a nature doctor near-by and I`m desperate to trial and error. A local woman accompanies me for translation and we take a taxi to a small cabin in the middle of the jungle. The ground floor is one big room with a loamy ground. A small wooden ladder leads to a sleeping room on the first floor. At the time I was there I`ve counted approximately 10 kids of all ages coming down. The nature doctor is an elderly woman. Her correct age is impossible to predict. I get a massage for 5 minutes on my elbow with an undefined paste for a cost of $20. So it looks like she is not unworldly. It was worse a try and an interesting experience but we decided to better do the follow-up therapy on our own.
After a few days the itchiness gets worth and keeps us awake at night. We escape from this place and make our next stop in “Pequeno Paraiso” a nice site a few kilometers before Banos which is managed from the Brazilian Sue and the Australian Marc. Already the entrance is very narrow. After a discussion whether the small bridge is stable enough we go on and get stuck in the soft sand shortly after. For the moment we leave as is and setup for a few days. A nice hike leads to a near-by waterfall in a picturesque surrounding. But at some point in time the moment of truth comes. We must get out of here one way or the other and it`s raining every day. The first attempts show that we dig ourselves even deeper into the mud. The first time in two years our sand boards come into operation. Thanks God we have enough stones around and can build something like an old Inka road which helps us to finally get out of it. We park our car and invite Sue and Mark for an evening dinner with wine and champagne for their energetic help. Thanks again folks. You were amazing!
Banos is a lovely tourist town on our way. We park at the big car park next to the hot springs, give our stressed muscles a hot bath after the digging work and explore the city center. After two days and bright sunshine we drive a very steep and narrow road up to the view point “Ojos del Volcan”. From there we can overlook the valley and have a fantastic view onto the smoking and active volcano Tungurahua. The Tungurahua is a layer volcano of 5023m south-east from Ambato. We are now on the “road of volcanos” and hope that we can see some of these impressive volcanos without clouds and fog.
We stay four days and enjoy the amazing view in best sun lights. Then we continue over small cross-country roads where we scrape through. Only in case of oncoming traffic it gets difficult. However MOMO is big enough and all are honestly give way. We restock food in Riobamba and go on to the volcano Chimbarazo which is also the highest mountain in Ecuador with 6310m. We rest for the night in a small village along the road on 3800m to adopt ourselves to the altitude before we continue up to 4800m the next day. This takes not only MOMO`s breath away. We drive thru new snow up to the Refugio and continue by foot up to 4900m. Unfortunately dense fog comes up and we resign to do the 5000m particular as we have distress. No idea where this comes from…..
We go down to 4300m and continue over an unpaved road direction Salinas. At a photo stop I accidentally realize our sixth flat wheel on the back right. The blessing in Copacabana/Peru and the ordination to the priesthood did obviously not help. We are on 4300m and thinking about the upcoming activity doesn`t make us feel better. But first we try to pump-up and actually we get 4,5 bar in it. This should last for the 23km up to Salinas. We check air frequently while driving but we lose almost nothing and reach Salinas without problems. Unfortunately they have no tire service in town. This is another 30km away in Guaranda. We have a break and explore the small village. Salinas is well known for their excellent cheese, ham, sausage and chocolate and we substantially stock-up on it. In Guaranda the tire gets repaired. We have again an unexplainable 2cm crack in the tube. We take a new tube and keep the old one as spare. Now it`s time for an overnight location as it is already 5pm and it gets dark in one hour. We climb thru very dense fog and find something next to the road on 4200m. Nothing fancy but ok for one night and even better than continue driving during the night. Therefore we have again a fantastic view onto the snow-capped Chimborazo the next morning.
The next day we drive a small cross-country road thru a magnificent valley via Ambato to Lago Quilotoa. The lagoon is a crater lake on 3800m with an impressive panorama. However it`s very windy and ice cold. In addition the location is a tourist hot spot and merciless merchandized.
We are satisfied with a view from the overlook and continue the next morning a few hundred meters deeper to the Cloud Forest Hostel on 3200m. This place is considerably warmer and we make a nice hike of 5 hours and work up to sweat. The view is amazing and we feel ourselves like at home in the Alpes only 2000m higher. It´s unbelievable how people live on an altitude around 4000m in miserable huts and cultivate their premises in this extreme steep terrain.
After two days we go on and drive thru a beautiful landscape to the volcano Cotopaxi. The perfect formed volcanic cone is 5897m high and 60km south of Quito. The importance for the Andes is more or less equal to importance of the Matterhorn in the Alpes. The access road is well developed and we park on the campground on 3800m with a great view to the volcano. The weather changes permanently. Sun, rain, mist, strong wind, we have it all. But we are lucky and can see the impressive mountain from time to time in best sun light.
We stay a few days before we move on to Quito. MOMO gets some service in the garage and we fly to Galapagos whose unique wildlife built the base for Charles Darwin`s theory of evolution. We are curious what we expect there and you can already look forward to the next blog. Until then. Hasta Luego.