Ecuador: Back on the bike

March 2019

Back from vacation. Back with my bike. Back into my travel life. It hasn´t always been easy in Germany. In the old home.

Back here I feel more free, relaxed. Nobody has expectations of me. Nobody knows me here. Except Juan and Fanghorn, two friends, whom I meet in Quito on the second day. Finally someone who understands me. The two have undergone a similar development as me. Started a long time ago to discover the world. Have someday returned home. And have noticed that there is no way back. That the unfolding process of a traveler can hardly be stopped and is often difficult to understand from those who always stayed at home. They too left again. They too have a different understanding of being at home. We have breakfast on the sunny roof terrace of the hostel and look out over the city.

The next day Fanghorn and me climb up to the Cumbre Ruco Pichincha which throwns 4692 Meters over the city. I am no longer used to this altitude and feel a bit breathless .Actually, it should be an acclimatization trip for the 6267 Meter Chimborazo volcano, which we plan to climb with Fanghorn’s brother, an experienced mountain guide, the next days. It is a unique opportunity because you usually have to pay a lot of money for a guide and the agency. We would have to borrow only the most necessary equipment and soon we would not be able to stand on the highest mountain in the world, but at the point furthest away from the center of the earth.

But I’m worried about my fitness after three months without much physical activity.
Anyone who has ever climbed a fairly high mountain, knows what effort it is and that you always have to push yourself to your limits and beyond. That’s just too much effort for me right now.
There is as well my lack of any experience to climb an ice-covered mountain in the middle of the night armed with crampons and ice axe.

So I decide for the bike. From here to the border with Colombia it´s only about 200 kilometer. There are no flat roads anyway, either uphill or downhill. Buses, trucks, cars rush past me but the traffic can´t tarnish my joy.

It just feels so good to be back on the road. Freedom I feel on the bike. Satisfaction. And also exhaustion, because my legs, not trained anymore, already signal me after the first 30 kilometers that I have to take it slow. I still manage to reach the equator and cross the imaginary red line to the northern hemisphere before finding a small campsite by the river.

Am nächsten Morgen kann ich auf kleineren Nebenstraßen dem Verkehr ausweichen und die Landschaft geniessen. Viele Felder, viel grün, es könnte auch irgendwo in Europa sein.

The next morning I can avoid the traffic on smaller side roads and enjoy the scenery. Many fields, a lot of green, it could also be somewhere in Europe. I follow the advice of another cyclist and take a route that will lead me through the nature reserve El Angel. He had told of a fantastic moor landscape, and of plants that pick up water through the leaves directly from the clouds and guide it through the roots into the ground. The cold and rainy climate in this region has led to a unique plant world, which can be found only here and in a region of southern Colombia.

He had not told me about the 50-kilometer climb up to the entrance to the reserve. Or about the next 15 kilometers of rough cobblestone. Well, maybe I just didn´t listen to that part. Exhausted, I make a camp at the entrance to the reserve and will be rewarded the next day for all the effort.

All of a sudden, the landscape changes, more and more of the mentioned Frailejones plants appear, the leaves are fluffily soft and their shapes extend to the horizon. I really haven´t seen anything like that and honestly didn´t expect it.

In the park there is a small path to a lake, before the road becomes impassable for normal cars and I am all alone. These are the routes I like, the moments I enjoy the most. Which make up for all the efforts and the sections with the annoying traffic.


In the evening I camp among the thousands of Frailejones. It’s getting dark and I’m alone. But there is something blinking. A glowworm joins me, attracted by the red light of my flashlight.

The next day is mainly downhill – Colombia is not far away.

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