19 January 2014

A week at the Casa de Ciclistas de Tumbaco, near Quito

We arrived from Madrid on an evening flight after a rather stressful time checking in the bikes (avoid Iberia, if you can!). The 11 hour flight felt like no time at all and we were surprised how natural it felt to be on a new continent! We managed to find a taxi that would take us from Quito airport to Tumbaco, though we had to take the bikes out of their boxes in order to do so. 30 minutes later we were at Santiago´s house, which he opens to passing cycle tourists.

All reunited at Quito airport
 We have spent the past week here and it has been an excellent ´start´ to our trip. Meeting others doing similar trips has helped calm our nerves and given us some great ideas for our route. It has been great to feel part of the community of cyclists in South America—Santiago has been taking in cyclists for 23 years!

Cyclists come and go, and we all sign the book
Nathan and Jo about to head South to Cotopaxi. Nathan writes an excellent blog with stunning pictures and very useful route advice for fellow (mostly off-road) cycle tourists.

I even learnt how to prepare ceviche, Santiago´s style

Camarón, tomatoes, white onion, coriander, orange and lime juices form the base of it, along with popcorn, fried banana slices, salt, and a bit of ketchup 

And all mixed up, no fixed amounts of anything, just taste it as you go along...it sounded easy!

Some fellow cycle tourists leave pieces of art behind, in Santiago´s book

Martin, the latest cyclist to leave, had ridden up from Ushuaia
We have spent three days in Quito, a bus ride away, seeing the old town with its beautiful colonial plazas, going up the telesferico (cable car) to the volcano Pinchicha, and seeing the best of Ecuadorian heritage at the Casa de la Cultura museum.

Quito´s Old Town

Sundays are cycling day in the Old Town and La Mariscal
South to La Mariscal area

Nice views from Basílica del Voto Nacional

Up on the top of the TelefériQo, at 4100 m. The start of the hike up to Ruco Pinchincha

Hiking up steep hills at 4100 m isn´t easy

The views were well worth it though

It got very foggy and cold as we reached 4400 m

Narrow paths, bad visibility and a groggy feeling due to the altitude made us turn around. 

One last chance to enjoy Quito from high above
We´ve spent other days closer to ´home´, going on a short cycle ride, a hike up the mountain Ilaló, and just enjoying the tranquility of the casa and getting to know Santiago and his family.

Riding on the excellent ciclovía, a disused railway going to the Oriente from Cumbayá
Another day we hiked up the Cerro del Ilaló, at 3200 m. Enjoying the views of Tumbaco 

Some interesting flora was seen
Dense vegetation at 3000 m
At the top of the Ilaló, looking to the Occidente. Volcán Pichincha and Quito in the background
The easier way up to the Ilaló, taken by cyclists

Heading back to Tumbaco, nice views of the Tumbaco and Cumbayá area
We will finally leave on Monday after just over a week here. But it won´t be goodbye forever. We´ve decided that we can´t bear to miss going to Colombia, and we´ll have much better weather if we postpone our trip South by a month or two, so we´re heading North from Quito and into Colombia, where we´ll do a loop via Cali and then eventually come back to Quito before starting our intended route south.

Our house for a week. The Casa de Ciclistas´ buncker
Tumbaco´s streets with Santiago and David


  1. Excellent stuff :) Nice to see I wasn´t the only one who had trouble with the bike and a cab at Quito airport. We made it through Cotopaxi (absolutely awesome) safe and sound and have been in Latcunga for a few days. Best of luck with your adventures ;) jo

  2. Bonitas fotos, me alegro que todo esté yendo bien. Saludos desde los madriles.

  3. Hey Jo and Nathan! Glad to hear your Cotopaxi route went well. We´re looking forward to reading your report and seeing the pictures. We will be stopping at Latacunga also, but that would only be in a couple months time, when we are back from Colombia. Are you doing the Quilotoa loop? another guy who stayed at the Casa headed for Quilotoa today, so you may run into him also. All the best on your travels. Al

  4. Hi Guys-
    Just looked through your blog and am loving it. Hey, some friends of mine Kelly and Seth are biking in South America. They have biked from Portland and hope to get to Patagonia. Kelly is an occupational therapist at the hospital where I work and Seth, her boyfriend, is a quadriplegic rugby player. He is hand biking and she is on a normal upright bike. I know that they were in Columbia and now headed for Ecuador. Here is their blog and FB site-http://www.longroadsouth.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Long-Road-South/133292970162348 Hopefully you guys will cross trails and meet. They are good people. Good luck and have fun!

    1. Hi Judah. thanks! They have a great blog, I hope we do coincide somewhere!

  5. It looks beautiful and what a great way to start your trip with such a wonderful host and community of cyclists. Can't wait to read about Columbia!


    1. You´ll have to wait a bit for Colombia, we´ve only just made it here! Glad you are following though! Miss you! (This is Lucy even though it says I´m Alberto)

  6. "Hiking up steep hills at 4100 m isn´t easy" - You should buy a bike! Looks amazing. X

  7. Great pictures. Have a great time. (easy on that spicy food, now......)

    all the best, Keith & Sarah