Ecuador 1a: The Avenue of Volcanos – Chimborazo the highest volcano

Along the avenue de volcanos the Ecuadorian volcanos are visible all around you -provided the clouds stay high.

Entlang der Strasse der Vulkane konnten wir die schönsten und höchsten Vulkane bestaunen -einer gewaltiger als der andere. Cotopaxi ist wohl der bekannteste, denn er war noch 2015 ausgebrochen. Asche und Lavastrom sind noch sehr sichtbar sowie die ständige Rauchwolke.

Once we left Peru, the desert-like landscape changed very quickly into lush banana plantations (who knows Chiquita bananas, the big sweet and yellow ones?) and agricultural fields right up to the high slopes.

Reaching Cuenca, we camped at the farm-like campsite Cabañas Yanucay with Umberto and Maria, conveniently situated to walk into the old town centre. Here a number of the original workshops can be seen where the famous Panama hats are made. We visited the Basilica as well as the old wooden church, today being a museum with exquisite wood carvings exhibited.

Next day we drove via Gamete to Laguna Atilla which was unfortunately misty and rainy and had to turn around due to landslide activity.

We decided to camp along a stream below a forest tree fellers’ road where during the night suddenly 2 trucks camped next to us awaiting the rain to settle.

It was a cold and wet night, but our Alucab Shadow Awn and sidewalls turned the evening into a cosy affair with rum generously added to our tea.
From here we continued to Riobamba where we camped in the yard of Hotel El Troje (Peacock) which Bernd and Marion had used on a previous trip. We found visiting the local market worthwhile where one hall is designated to the traditional speciality of grilled pigs -a sight to get used to at first – and had a delicious lunch of tender and spicy pork and crackling.

From Riobamba we accessed the volcano Chimborazo on a spectacular beautiful day. Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador (6310m) but is also the highest mountain on earth as measured from the centre of the earth (2000m higher than Everest).

We drove right up to the mountain station giving us spectacular views. Our friends were chaffed as on their previous visit 3 years ago all the volcanoes were under clouds. While at the top viewpoint we also were lucky to observe an Andean wolf, the Lobo de Parano.

Entry to the park was free and the top little restaurant served delicious cake and sandwiches.

Returning to Riobamba Bernd’s cruiser needed an oilchange and both vehicles got an intensive cleaning in a family-run cambio de aceite y lavandero. In the interim our two ladies took a taxi to find the most delicious grilled chicken in town -it probably was the most expensive adding the taxi city tour into the cost of the grilled pollo.

Next day we attempted to see the active Tungurahua volcano but a landslide and clouds prevented us getting there.

On the way we saw sidewalk restaurants offering grilled guinea pigs -we did not try them as well as pigs where the crackling is done with a blow-torch.

En route we passed San Miguel de Salcedo, know for its artesana ice creams -delicious and different, looking more like a lollipop than a conventional ice-cream.

For the night we stopped at the crater lake Quilotoa on a cold and very dusty and windy afternoon- put up our awning and outside tent to shelter from the cold winds -but during the night it almost blew away while we watched one off the roofs of a nearby cottage disintegrating. As counter measure we tied it down and gathered heavy rocks to keep the tent and awning in one piece.

Next morning we walked up to the viewpoint of this beautiful lake, the wind kept on pounding us but the view was fantastic.

On our return we stopped at the Cañon del Rio Toachi.

We continued towards Lasso, where we visited Hazienda La Cienaga, the hotel where Alexander v.Humboldt had stayed .

On the way we visited an indigenous art gallery.

Next on our trip we aimed to see the recently erupted (2015) volcano Cotopaxi – see our next post.

This post covers the period 16th to 22nd August 2016

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