After Peru came Ecuador, yet another great surprise in all my travels. I mean, who knows anything really about Ecuador? As I got closer to the country, I had heard a few things, but nobody did a great job just explaining how beautiful of a country it is. (I'm guessing that's because many folks only ride the Pan American highway in a bus, and don't get to explore other routes. Chalk one up for Julius The KTM and Eric!)
I had the chance to meet the owner of KTM-Ecuador while I was in Cuenca. Great timing for that, because he's interested in starting adventure tours for the public, and needs help of course with the marketing aspect of things (perfect for my project http://www.rideadv.com/)
After a few nights in Cuenca, getting to know the city and doing a few things to my bike, I headed up to the highly talked about town of Baños, just on the eastern side of the Andes on the way down to the Amazon. For an outdoors-lover, Baños is a paradise!
One of the first things I did was rent a mountain bike and head down to check out some of the dozens of waterfalls in the area. Most notably (above) is "El Pailon del Diablo," or "The Devil's Punchbowl," and certainly worth the hike to see!
The next day, I had the pleasure of meeting Ellen and Susan from Holland, both traveling Ecuador and Peru for a few months before getting back into the working world. We met on our half-day canyoning expedition, and had a great time for a couple of days and nights meeting other people along the way. The girls quickly named me the "Inca guy," as for some reason I was given the raincoat with the most local feel. (Plus, I look so Incan.)
Canyoning is basically rappelling down cliff walls, and in this case, through waterfalls using all the necessary ropes and harnesses and such. Below, Ellen is starting to look like a pro already. We rappelled down 6 waterfalls in total, progressively getting longer and longer as we continued. The final drop was around 120 feet, and difficult to photograph of course because of the situation we were in.
Above, our tour guide, Jose preps us for the biggest drop down into the canyon of the day. Below, to finish out the day, the girls and I rented a Jeep to do a little exploring in the San Antonio Forest Reserve, and finished out the days with locals and other travelers we'd meet throughout the day. I also spent a day river rafting on the Pastaza river in some nice class-4 rapids, but of course, the photos in that situation are pretty tough to take, so just take my word for it: It was a great day.
The entire area around Baños should not be missed, as there's limitless hiking, hot-spring bathing, waterfall watching, and even bungy-jumping to do there. I only spent 4 nights there, but could have easily enjoyed 2 more weeks.
More news coming, as I have met some local KTM riders in Ecuador and will share news on that soon.