Bike travel, commuting and more


Ecuador VII: Quito to Cuenca


Chimborazo on our way to Cuenca

Back in the Andes after the beach break

Quito welcomed us with rain and cold after our week break in the nice Pacific weather of Galapagos. Flights to Lima were still too expensive, and I wanted to visit Cuenca, so in the end Susanne accepted a compromise and rather than continue cycling, we would again catch a bus to Cuenca.

Doing some housework at the laundry

I had done some research and the easiest way to go there would be the Panamericana, which means heavy traffic on main roads. All other alternatives were either dirt tracks or tiny roads with crazy climbs. So bus would have to be. Most buses run at night, to avoid traffic and so users can save a hotel night. But for safety reasons, mostly of landslides since we are still in rainy season, Susanne preferred a daily option.

Carrying all our stuff in Quito bus station

To go to the bus station we used an app called “inDrive” that the guys in the hotel recommended. You basically make a price offer on how much you want to pay, and drivers will accept or make you a contra-offer. But the best is that you can specify what kind of vehicle you are looking for, in our case a double-cabin pick up, since we needed to transport our luggage and bikes, and also ourselves. What was very easy in the countryside, when all taxis are pick-ups, in the big cities is nearly impossible as taxis are all the conventional car type.

Standing in the bus is not allowed, but never enforced

The bus station in Quito, as was the case with the airport, is very modern and nice. We picked the 11:30 bus, and off we went to Cuenca in a nice and comfortable bus. As usual, the most annoying part is bargaining with the luggage guys on how much they can charge to carry our bikes, as there is no official price.

As usual, the trip took longer than planned, due to the usual traffic leaving Quito, routinary police controls, and road works, so we arrived in the dark, which is what we wanted to avoid. We already had a hotel booked nearby, but again we had trouble finding a suitable taxi. Luckily, inDrive helped again to find one.

Playing drums in Cuenca station
Our inDrive taxi

We really liked Cuenca. As Quito, the old city is also World Heritage by the Unesco, but here everything is more approachable, the city is smaller and feels more European, with plenty of cafes, shops, and even a new tram going through the city.

The famous Cuenca cathedral, not so old despite the looks
A fine example of Cuenca’s colonial houses
Simon was very proud a street had his name!

We also visited the Pumapungo museum and ruins, where an Inca city used to be. We were lucky there was at the time a dance contest we could see directly from the museum. The city has numerous parks, playgrounds and squares, so the kids had chances to run after the pidgeons or play with the local children.

Checking the dioramas at Pumapungo
Good dancing. Unfortunately the music was not live despite the instruments at the back
Small kids playing…
Big boys… playing cards!

Our Hotel del Norte was very well situated, close to the bus station, the central market, and the historic center, so we didn’t use the bikes at all. Only Thomas insisted in taking the tram so we did a couple of loops for his pleasure.

Our favourite hotel type, with an innen patio for our bikes
Browsing the nearby indoor market
You couldn’t ask for more choice…!
A highlight for Thomas, taking the tram
A success, empanadas with sweet pastry and filled with cheese

After that, it came the dilemma on how to continue south. There are three terrestrial borders with Peru, but two are closed, the one towards the Amazon and Jaen, and the one towards the mountains in Macará, all blamed on Covid, although of course the people keep crossing, just using the many illegal paths through forests and mountains. But that will be for the next post.

1 Comment

  1. Katherine G

    Cuenca!!!! La Atenas del Ecuador. Tanto que ver, la ciudad y sus alrededores. Espectacular! Si en algo puedes estar seguro es que no eres el unico europeo que le gusta la ciudad. Por aca tengo mis fans y si algo hay en mente despues de ir a Guayaquil (hometown) es volver a Cuenca e ir a la playa!! Estoy con Susanne. …viajar por la montaña dia. De noche…ni loca. Aunque esos choferes de bus se saben de memoria cada curva….no gracias…voy con el alma en un hilo. Y ni que hablar de la neblina. Espero no les haya tocado. Aun recuerdo los viajes familiares y el encuentro con la neblina a mitad de camino..ay mama! En fin. Paseo es paseo y se hicieron para recordar. Ese Simon!!es de los mios. Buena eleccion, empanadas de queso….mmmmmm riquisimas . Ooh ya mismo salen de Ecuador ( no me extrañaria si uds dicen ..por fin! ) Que pena que la Panamericana no fue lo que esperan, pero sumado a la epoca de lluvias..los deslaves estan a la order del dia..aah y la presence de Los Andes!! Sube y baja, alturas y barrancos…como que no es precisamente el sitio ideal para sentirse como un Carapaz pedaleando en el tour de France 🙂 :). En fin. Que encuentren la mejor ruta de salida y que puedan seguir disfrutando de los paisajes de mi lindo Ecuador 🇪🇨 ♥ 😍

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