Biking in Ecuador goes beyond normal track routes and gives you access to the medley of terrains riding down volcanoes, into the cloud forest and exploring islands in the Galapagos. Day trips include city tours, were riding on two wheels takes you off the beaten path and into the parks, markets, and the out of the way byways of Quito. Keep reading for more about where you can go by petal power in Ecuador.
NATIONAL PARKS AND NATURE RESERVES
Biking in Cotopaxi National Park, the Cayambe Coca Reserve, and the Pululahua Reserve are thrilling rides that take you high into the Andes and deep into the cloud forest. Cotopaxi National Park is home to the country’s most visited volcano of the park’s namesake. Bike tours here start high on the flanks of the volcano and descend into the paramo of the park. Stops include Maya ruins before finishing at Limpiopungo Lake. Wildlife sightings can include the Andean condor and wild horses that roam the plains of the lower elevations.
The Cayambe Coca Reserve is spread across four provinces of Ecuador ranging from high altitude tundra, lowland cloud forest, and the Amazon basin. Biking in Cayambe Coca Reserve puts you alongside mountain lakes and lowland rivers in scenic terrain under the majestic peak of the Cayambe volcano. The park has almost 400 kinds of birds including parrots, toucans, and condors. Dwarf deers are often spotted on the plains of the lower elevations.
The Pululahua Reserve protects a diverse eco-system of an extinct volcano crater to the north of Quito. The 3-mile wide crater is the only one of its kind in Ecuador that is inhabited, farms dot the landscape and about 40 families tend to their crops. Mountain biking here takes you from the high rim to the crater’s floor, a great ride that immerses you in the lush green hillsides.
Banos, in the central highlands, is the outdoor adventure capital of Ecuador. Trips from the small town include the ‘Ruta de Cascadas,’ or the route of waterfalls. The trek goes from high elevations to lower altitudes over a distance of just under 40 miles, stopping at more than a dozen waterfalls along the way for cable car rides across the Río Pastaza canyon and hikes to the base of power falls. Baños highlights include the Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron,) a stunning waterfall where water cascades down over 250 feet into a swirling pool that produces a constant midst.
Papallacta’s spectacular scenery, rising hills, and plunging valleys are great for riding out into the open. For an active ride, Happy Gringo’s Extreme Ecuador Adventure tour includes a trip from Papallata’s mountain paramos through the cloud forest to the Amazon with a stop at San Rafael Falls, the highest waterfall in the country and on the must-see list for outdoor enthusiasts.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Biking on Santa Cruz Island during a Galapagos land tour takes you from the highlands to the coast along a scenic route that explores Los Gemelos, a pair of overgrown sunken craters where scalesia forests are home to several finches. After the craters, bike to a ranch where giant tortoises roam the property before continuing along a route that takes you past highland farms to the coastal town of Puerto Ayora.
For more information about biking in Ecuador, custom-made trips on two wheels, and your options for exploring the four regions of the country including the Galapagos Islands, contact a member of our team.