Here we are in Ecuador, middle of the world. The landscape is somewhat different, but beautiful, and the roads are incredibly good. Lots of highways with two, three or four lanes on one direction, and very smooth asphalt. And they are working on building more roads everywhere.
One thing we noticed in Ecuador, there are lots of Dacia cars. For my non Romanian readers, Dacia is the Romanian auto make, bought about 13 years ago by Renault. This is one of the old Dacia cars, that we grew up with
To our joy in the beginning, in Ecuador is not hot. Itís mostly rainy, foggy (and the thick fog lasts for hours) or overcast.
Somewhere close to Quito, the capital, there is a place called Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the world), where the equator line is. We cannot believe we are actually here! We enter for the first time in the southern hemisphere!
The average altitude we are riding at is 3000 m, but we reached many times 3500, so the bikes (and us) are getting lazier from the lack of oxygen. The highest we've got to so far was 3651 m altitude, on the Cotopaxi volcano, but we will *probably soon reach 4000m and over.
The Cotopaxi volcano is the second highest summit in the country, reaching 5897 m (19347 ft) and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. It has one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world, which starts at about 5000 m. There are several way to go up to the volcano, which we didn't know, so we took El Pedregal to ride up. It was 17 km of challenging riding, 11 km of causeway and 6 km of gravel. The causeway was very uneven and bumpy and the road very steep. I would have never thought that I would be so happy to hit gravel, but I was on the last 6 km, since it was so much better!
At the entrance in the National Park they would not let us go on bikes. You can go in a car, but not on a bike. Apparently the reason is that many bikers don't stick to the road, and they damage the flora. In vain we tried to explain that our bikes are heavy, and with all the luggage on them we won't go off the road, but these are norms of the park, so we had to abide. We were quite disappointed, since we were really hoping to go all the way up, to the end of the road. But maybe it's better this way, as even at 3651 m we were feeling a bit light-headed, so I can only imagine how it feels higher up without acclimatizing.
Before we headed back it started raining, and a couple of minutes later it was hailing, which made our descent quite interesting
But we made it back without getting too wet, and the sun came out soon again. Ecuador weather is so unpredictable!