Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cycling 400km-Baeza to Mendez in the Ecuadorian Amazon

There's that 5,000km view off to the Atlantic again! Great to have lots of company on this inaugural, 'bring the whole family along' bike tour of the Amazon. We need'nt have worried about the kids....they were awesome, it's the adults that need the recovery time! We'll definately be doing this trip will be the Ecuadorian coast in August.

Starring....Maria, Ramon (pulling yet another face) and Carla

Also starring, Aisling (AKA Ash) from Ireland and Adrian from England (AKA Pugz)
They did all but the last two days, as Pugz had to fly back to England to work on his masters.

and also starring...the red sausage....Volker from the Black Forest. Came for the first 2 days as he had to fly back to Germany to start a new job.

and also starring....Papa as George of the jungle (suck that gut in dad!)

So's the Amazon and it does rain...but not as much as expected. In fact there were floods in Quito while we where gone! Note the latest in rain wear....Maria is modelling the 2011 recycled garbage bag waterproofs. This is b/c I took 2 pannniers with all the gear for the 4 of us, so that Maria's load would be lighter. The trailer weighs 17kg and Carla 10 kg. Ramon weighs 16kg and the tag a long 10 kg. We started the trip at 2000m, where we needed the garbage bags, but quickly dropped down to 1000m and didn't need them the rest of the trip.

Mom and daughter. Carla would usually sleep 1.5 to 2 hours a day and most days we biked no more than 4 hours, for about a 50km per day average.

Carla pulling a face....who taught her that Ramon?

Carla is at that stage where she is fascinated by any insect, dead or alive. She puts them in water bottle and plays with them as she rides along.

Ramon...the master of crazy faces now.

Ramon can now spot and read his own name. If only he were a little 'saint' as the San Ramon would suggest.

Multi-tasking already: taking in the scenery, pedalling and eating a banana.

This amazing couple have just ridden from London to Istanbul!
Aisling will be Ramon's kindergarten teacher next year. Wonder if she's had enuf of him already :) Pugz is a acoustics engineer, currently working as a bike mechanic. They were awesome with the kids and super company to have along. Hope they can join us again on the coast in August.

Now look who's teaching Ramon to pull faces!

Doing their good deeds for the day....picking up kids and giving them rides up hills!!! Would'nt catch me doing that! What am I saying? I already am! Their parents must wonder if their kids are being kidnapped.

Ash also likes to blow up ballons for kids on the side of the road.

Well....they did volunteer to come along :) Why is it that friends become more popular with the kids than with their own parents? (thus ponders a jealous dad)

On a little hike....somehow, one of these tarantulas landed on my shoulder! Seriously..and they wanted to take a picture first before telling me that I have a problem! Fortunately the bugs really weren't a problem.

More wildlife....sunning himself.

Never did get the name of this friendly type of monkey....he likes the salty sweat on Carla's neck. She is laughing with sheer delight here...but was crying when a Spider monkey bit her twice a few minutes later. Mom was not impressed. Just left small bruises though....

Here is the culprit!

These and other monkeys are at a rescue centre a few miles out of Puyo.

...more wildlife and another victim for Carla's insect collection.

and some not so wildlife.....

and some not so alive wildlife. Is that a vampire bat? look at the hooks on the wings!

Volcan Sumaco in the background.

The active volcan Sangay at 5300m; the most active volcano in the country. Poking its nose out of the jungle. This was taken at sunrise...The only day the Pugz and Ash had to get up early....but it was worth it, as it was Pugz 33 birthday and they would have missed the view if we would have left an hour later. By 7am these views were gone!

El Altar....(Kilimonjaro eat your heart out!) The most technically demanding climb in Ecuador. 5319m ...this from wiki: Spaniards named it so because it resembled two Nuns and four Friars listening to a Bishop around a church altar. The ancestral Purwa people of the region called the mountain Capac-Urcu, which means “Lord of all the Mountains” in Kichwa.

Now for some water time photos. I think we have all the appropriate bits covered here.

A pool with the right depth for all!

Maria in the hotel pool.

Ramon had a great time playing tarzan on the vine in the background.

Maria cooling her heels. She actually kept to her running training program that her coach gives her every month or so, as she wants to go to the Colombian nationals in Bogota in about 3 weeks. Double training, all while doing the world's hardest job; being a mom (and here I thought the hardest job was being a teacher :)

Chinese food in the jungle....chopsticks and all.

Steaming hot. I think mom, the world's greatest chinese food afficionado, would call this a hot pot? Or would Dr. Suess say that?

Pugz 33 birthday.

Guayabas one seems to eat them here...they just rot off the trees. We ate our share though!

New bridge over the Rio Pastaza.

Same bridge at night from our hotel.

The old bridge, or what's left of it, that I rode over 15 years ago, when I biked the entire ecuadorian amazon in 2 weeks. Back then it was 90% gravel/dirt/cobblestone/oil....nowadays it's 95% paved!!! Never imagined back then that I'd be cycling it again...with a few kids in tow!

A jungle downpour.....with the kids running around naked.
stained glass window in Macas church is that time of the year when Jackie jesus comes out to play isn't it?? :)

Above the town of macas. It would take 2 of me to reach her big toe. We should have climbed up to the crown inside and the door was left open...but we thought the taxi guy was in a rush. Next time.

Typical roadside cycling scene.

Hanging the laundry out to dry.

Sometimes it does get a wee bit hot and sunny.

Trying to keep up with Ramon!

Wonder if this is what Maria will look like in her old age :) Hopefully not the same outfit though.

The endorphin adventure peloton.

This is the second last day. We rode 25 to Sucua. We were suppose to do the 25 to Logrono the next day but ended up doing the 50km to Mendez quite comfortably. I went a further 50 km to Limon the next day solo as it was a 600m vertical climb, which would have been too much with no place to stay in between.

10 days of quiet roads, quiet country side (noisy kids), some great company (although Maria was tired of me by the end), green-green and more green, and luxuriant warmth. Who wants to join us next time?


Alm-Kruse family said...

Dear Tober-Zambrano family!
Thank you for sharing your exiting blog with others. It has been most inspiring to read, as we plan to visit Equador july-august 2012 on our way around the world.
As our spanish is very limitied, I wonder if you belive this could be a problem going of the beaten track?

Yours sincerely
the Alm-Kruse family from Norway

Familia Tober-Zambrano said...

Hi Alm-Kruse family. Please drop by if you are coming...we have a guest suite out back. You can find us on
You can find someone who speaks a bit of English in most parts of Ecuador...depends how far off the beaten track1