Bike Adventure in the Andes
Day 0: Arrival in Quito
You will arrive at Mariscal Sucre Airport in Tababela. We will pick you up and take you to the Hotel de la Mancha in Quito. There we will wait for the rest of the participants and in the evening we will meet for an integration dinner and briefing on the details of what is in store for the following days.
Day 1: Pacto - Mashpi: a descent through the best preserved primary forests in the country.
Get ready for an unforgettable day: an hour and a half from Quito, by bus, is the rural parish of Pacto, home to one of the most exciting and best-preserved primary forests in Ecuador. After a delicious and typical Ecuadorian breakfast, we will get ready to start our first day of cycling. We will ride a total of 40 kms, descending from 1250 to 520 meters above sea level.
The end of the tour is the Chontaloma Reserve, one of the agro-ecological farms in the town of Mashpi, where we will have lunch and stay for the night.
After lunch, we can walk along the trails, swim in the river and finally get ready for the next day's journey.
Day 2: Let's go to the beach, slowly but surely!
After a leisurely breakfast, we will take a bus out of the primary forests and into the heart of the province of Manabi. The aim of this part of the trip is to get into the mountainous areas of the Ecuadorian coast, take a break for lunch and wait for the sun to start to go down, so that in the cool hours of the afternoon, we can start a second day of cycling that will take us from the mountains to the sea, at the beach of Don Juan. We will reach the sea at sunset, which in this part of the world occurs behind the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.
From this moment on, our adventure of solidarity begins. Coordinated by the compañeras of the Fundación A Mano Manaba, we will begin to enjoy a cosy community accommodation, which will be one of the many ways in which we will leave our positive mark on the population of Don Juan.
Day 3: Let's get to work! (What we're here for)
This day begins the main part of this purposeful journey. As we have explained to you before, during a 7.8 earthquake in 2016, thousands of families lost everything. Although 7 years have passed, many of these families have still not been able to finish repairing and fully rehabilitating their homes. That is why, from our allies of the A Mano Manaba Foundation, we have been asked to intervene to help the families of Don Juan with the most precarious living situation. Thus, 10% of the income generated by this trip will be invested directly in the purchase of electrical material, plumbing, wood, bamboo, paint, etc., which will be installed by local professionals in the field and assisted by all participants who want to leave their direct mark on this concrete improvement of the living conditions of those who need it most.
As not everything is work, guided by local experts in whale watching, we will embark on the boats of the villagers and go in search of witnessing the mating or birthing rituals of the humpback whales, coming from Antarctica. The province of Manabí is one of the privileged areas in the country and the world to observe this unique spectacle of nature.
Day 4: Life is tastier at the sea
You cannot pass through the beaches and coastal towns of Ecuador without getting to know the way of life of these sea creatures. On this day, our day will start very, very early. Around 03:00 a.m. we will have to embark to witness one of the oldest human survival rites of mankind: artisanal fishing. The rites around the sea include ancestral knowledge, astronomical knowledge and a good dose of sea stories.
On the way back, we will return to the pending work on the refurbishment of houses and in the afternoon we will enjoy free time for a jog along the beach, a good read of a book, or a free ride around the surroundings on a bicycle.
Day 5: Dry forests and living forests
After our last day of solidarity house renovation, this afternoon we will make a very special visit. With some luck (and silence) we will be able to meet the howler monkey, the main inhabitant of the country's dry and tropical forests. It is 180 hectares protected in the Lalo Loor Reserve, one of the last remnants of the forest that are highly threatened. It is located in a transition zone between the very humid forests to the north and the very dry forests to the south. For this reason, it has an incredible biodiversity with species representative of both habitats.
We will close the day with a bonfire on the beach, with music, dancing, amorfinos (popular verses), montubio oven and turrones (nougat).
Day 6: Back on the bike
With the satisfaction of having done our duty, we will say goodbye to our friends from Don Juan and take a tour through the lonely and wonderful beaches around the canton Jama. A ride that includes shrimp farms, cattle ranches, a site museum, and kilometres of warm beaches. It will be 45 kms flat and will end with a visit to the village of El Matal, the place that inspired and where one of the best Ecuadorian films of recent times, El Pescador, was filmed.
After lunch, we will board the bus and depart directly to the town of Canoa. Before the sun goes down, we will stay at a beach hotel with an unbeatable view, Shantí Lodge. Once we are in the lodge, and after enjoying the hotel and its views, we will have a very special dinner at the school restaurant Iche, a spectacular place with a gastronomic proposal that is revolutionizing the haute cuisine of Manabí.
Day 7: Hasta la vista baby
You can't "terminate" this trip to the sea without a good kayaking trip around the estuaries of the mouth of the Chone River. Over the years, in this union of sea and river, the Isla Fragata and Isla Corazón have been formed, protected areas under the care of the Community of Puerto Portovelo, whose local guides will help us discover the secrets of these mangrove and seabird refuges aboard individual or tandem kayaks.
As usual, we will arrive at the port by bicycle. Before embarking on the paddling stage, we will be welcomed by the villagers, we will drink water and taste some local snacks.
At the end of the tour, we will take a shower at the Coastal Reserve facilities and we will start our return trip to Quito. We will have our last meal in Zapallo, which will also be our last stop before returning to the hotel in the capital.
Day 8: Back to the Andes, Quito and beyond
When it comes to cycling, you can't be in Quito and not visit the Chaquiñán de Cumbayá. This former railway line, converted 15 years ago into a 40-kilometre cycling and pedestrian route, will take you back 100 years through old tunnels and over old bridges. We won't have enough time to cover the whole route, but we promise you that we'll do the best part, about 20 km. As soon as we finish this section, we will go by bus to the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, at 4,200 metres above sea level, on the border of the Metropolitan District of Quito and the gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Papallacta area. Spectacular landscapes of high Andean moorlands, world famous for its prodigious and medicinal volcanic hot springs, delight and admiration of locals and foreigners alike.
With 30 minutes of exposure to these miraculous hot springs, all new and old muscle aches and pains will be gone. We will be there for about 3 hours. After the bath, there will be time for us, at our own choice, to taste a typical menu of the area, which may include hot chicken soup, trout or a vegetarian option.
Back in Quito, in the evening we will have a light dinner and attend a Quito party. Music may include salsa, bachata, some reggaeton and a class in case the week has not presented itself during the week.
Day 9: The jewel in the crown
In case you thought you were going to leave Quito without seeing its historic centre, well, you were wrong. The best day to get to know the biggest and best historic centre in America is Sunday. Twenty years ago, our allies at CiclóPolis convinced the mayor of the time to make nearly 30 kilometres of the city's main streets available every Sunday for the exclusive use of pedestrians and cyclists. The Ciclopaseo de Quito is a true bicycle festival. It attracts more than 50,000 participants every week. The route crosses the entire city and connects the most distant neighbourhoods with the tourist and financial centre of the city. A real spectacle that is worth seeing from the inside. It is open from 08:00 to 16:00. We will walk along it between 09:00 and 13:00, visit the south and north centre of the city, have lunch in some emblematic place of the city and, to finish the day, we will visit the Handicraft Market, where we can catch up with the purchase of souvenirs and souvenirs of the city and the country. For those who have a return flight the same day, there will be a transfer to the airport.