Bike-Dreams : The Andes Trail
The Andes Trail



You start with two rest days of acclimatising in Quito before you hit the road for more than four months. The capital of Ecuador is located at an altitude of 2.850 metres on a horizontal strip of land running north to south between beautiful mountains. The splendour of the city's natural setting, combined with its attractive squares, parks and monuments as well as the warmth of its people, make it a great place to get used to the altitude and the Latin way of life. "The Andes Trail" starts a couple of kilometres north of Quito at the 30-meter high Mitad-del-Mundo. This monument marks the equator, from which the country derives its name.

The first days you ride on the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" which you already experience just after the start. You can recognise the perfect ice-covered volcanic cone of the Cotopaxi. It's with 5.897 metres Ecuador's highest active volcano and the second highest peak in the country, only surpassed by Chimborazo which slopes you will climb a couple of days later. 
All traffic disappears slowly and the PanAmerican road takes you through to the highlands with its deep canyons, winding climbs and colourful dressed Indians. Probably you'll bump into one of the traditional indigenous markets which express the old customs, which still play an important role in the multicultural society of Ecuador. 
One night you stay near the Inca ruins of Ingapirca which stand as the most important archaeological memory in Ecuador and provides a fascinating insight into this remarkable civilisation. The designated UNESCO World Heritage City of Cuenca has been selected for a day to relax. This third largest city in the country is considered by many to be the most attractive. With cobblestone streets, flower filled plazas and many historical buildings constructed in the marble quarried nearby, the city still retains its traditional and colonial atmosphere.

You leave Cuenca via winding mountain roads in the direction of Loja. This city in the Cuxibamba Valley is known as the musical heart of the country and has innumerable salsa clubs and other musical entertainment within her historical town centre. The Pan American Highway, world's longest road, is continued in the direction of the border with Peru.
The stages in Ecuador include quite some climbing at high altitude. Fortunately most of the nights a hotel bed is waiting for you. It makes the first weeks of "The Andes Trail" tough, but it's also a comfortable way to adapt to the mountainous conditions.
Rest day in Cuenca
Rest day in Loja