Blogs from Central Highlands, Centre, Ecuador, South America


South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands February 23rd 2020

You might have noticed a passing reference to El Nariz del Diablo in our last blog. WELL this amazing feat of engineering deserves at least a blog spot of its own and maybe more than one! In the late 1800s the Ecuadorian government decided to build a railway from Quito to Guayquil to link the two main areas of the country and stop every one fighting with everyone else. They started in Guayquil on the coast and proceeded splendidly through the coastal plain until they hit THE ANDES. The Andes are one heck of a obstacle and the railway ground to a halt and over the next few years began to be overgrown and abandoned. The story goes that an English born financier, Archer Harman, who had a brother John who was a civil engineer, was ... read more
Only a small one but a lovely example of a Warren truss
Just before the path became "mortally steep"

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands February 22nd 2020

So our blog spots have gone a bit wonky due to editorial problems (i.e. we've got in a muddle). The last blog should have appeared before the one before it but Pete was so traumatised by nearly having to find a new sourdough maker he was unable to write for a few days. Let me take you back to us waking up in Riobamba after our Chimborazo excitement and realising we had missed the bus to Alausi. We hot-footed it to the bus station to find it was CARNIVAL. We had failed to realise what a big thing Carnival is throughout Ecuador (as well as everywhere else in South America). Obtaining bus tickets is always a dark art. If you walk into a ticket office you are accosted by ticket sellers yelling at you through the ... read more
These stilt men were about 15 feet high!
We just loved these chubby chaps.

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands February 21st 2016

Before getting to Ecuador we had a few things to see in the south of Colombia and celebrate Alice´s 30th birthday! Alice´s big day saw spent in the small town of Popayan which was a slight anti-climax after all the cool places we´ve been; but she got to have a good chat with her family - it was also a positive to have something of an enforced rest day which is something we´re not very good at giving ourselves. The reason for being there is we were on route to the even smaller town of San Agustin way off in the hills and pretty far off the main tourist trail. SA was home to a per-Colombian civilization who built hundreds of statues of men, women, animals and animal-human hybrids deep in the Colombian cloud forest. A ... read more
First time on a horse!
Rainforest waterfall
Lake Quilotoa

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands June 15th 2012

My first impression of Quito was quite promising, the weather good, the people friendly, and the taxi driving a lot less like and extreme sport. When I arrived at my hostel (The Secret Garden) it only got better, 5 stories and almost maze-like the staff are incredibly friendly, the hostel owned by and Australian/Ecuadorian couple. I spent my first day catching up on some much needed sleep after not sleeping the night before and then met an array of people at dinner that night. In particular a lovely American couple who are into mountain climbing and a range of other outdoor adventure sports, we immediately discovered we have quite a bit in common and before they left invited my over to the states (Colorado) to do some bike riding and other outdoor sports with them, which ... read more

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands November 11th 2011

After a day hike from Quito to test my ability at altitude, it was time to hit some of Ecuador´s snow-capped mountains. My first stop was Cotopaxi - the world´s second highest active volcano. I stopped at an amazing hostel (Secret Garden) which was pure luxury: delicious food, the best views and a jacuzzi to soak in after a day trekking or cycling. On arrival we were taken on a guided walk to a waterfall. Our guide packed a towel and said anybody who jumped in would be rewarded with a free beer. This offer was irresistible on a number of levels and so I took the plunge into the icy pool with gusto! I´ve never swam so hard and fast to get out of a pool in my life and it took at least ... read more

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands May 5th 2011

The bus from Riobamba dropped us off on the edge of Alausi - we had absolutely no idea where to go from there - and of course there’s never a taxi in sight when you actually want one! It was very quiet - there was nobody around - so we stated heading down the hill to the church - presuming that the main square would be beside it. This town didn’t actually have a square - just a long main street (next to the church) so at least we were able to find a hotel. We had come here to ride the train down the the Nariz del Diablo so after dropping our luggage went to the train station to buy tickets. The station was at one end of the long wide main street - the ... read more
Babies on board...
A line of shoe shine men in Alausi

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands February 26th 2011

To be surrounded by stars so vivid, dark so black, sounds so pure, smells so scented, water so….brown was the absolute best contrast to the wildlife seen days before in the Galapagos islands. A flight out from Quito, after 2.5 hour delay due to foggy conditions in Coca (eastern Ecuador) began this sojourn, arriving in time to greet the 2nd La Selva staff member that day, Luis. Coca, a town of approx. 20,000 people, sits aside the Napo and Coca river confluence, and our 2.5 hour long boat ride downstream to the lodge went by quicker than planned, thankfully. The conversation topics were fast diminishing with only 2 of us, the captain, and his crew of diesel supplies and meat for the hordes already there. 6 tourists evidently failing to come, I got the welcome star ... read more
cocoons for sale
a big balsa or kapok tree
don't wobble the balsa wood canoe

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands September 2nd 2010

On a clear day, you don´t see the sky. You see Chimborazo. A brute of earthy ice, forging its way to the heavans . No snowy peak here, but a creamy avalanche suspended in time, beaten white to blue, held with what must be a whole continent of muscle. More of the view I hear you ask? To the left of the porch, stands two jack and the bean stalk bumps.. breast-like in their togetherness, seemingly protecting onlookers from a world beyond. Rotating ahere shows hazey, soft, peaks out in the distance. Sporadic clutches of buildings.. "In distinct wails, dogs bark, donkeys braying.." There is a man, who offers his services for a fair price (maybe the noise polluntion is not), to communicate messages through a microphone adorned atop his car, spewing randomness throghout the day.. ... read more

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands July 29th 2010

Hola todos! Nou, die dierenmarkt in Otavalo was nog wel een hapening. Heel de omgeving loopt uit met z´n koeien, varkens, hondjes, kippen, eenden enzovoort om die voor een aantal dollars te slijten aan kopers. Een drukke bedoening met krijsende varkens, loeiene koeien en blije kopers met twee kippen in de hand terug naar huis. Ik geloof dat ik voor de prijs waarvoor ik een trui op de toeristenmarkt heb gekocht ook net zo goed twee varkens had kunnen kopen als Ecuadoriaan zijnde, maar ja..... Vanuit Otavalo ben ik naar Latacunga gereisd: de uitvalbasis voor tochten rondom de Quilotoa Loop en Cotopaxi. Beide wilde ik graag gaan doen, dus meteen maar wat info gaan zoeken. Die vond ik bij een aardig hostel en daar vertelden ze me dat er op dit moment geen georganiseerde tour naar ... read more
hostel Isinlivi
hostel Isinlivi
hike naar Chugchilan

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Central Highlands June 5th 2010

Hello from our family here in on the western slopes of the Andes. No we haven’t been affected by the recent volcano eruption. That has caused havoc in the town we spent April in, Banos. We were very close to it there, and are hoping all is okay there. La Hesperia is an organic farm/conservation center that is located in the cloud forest about 2 hours away from Quito toward the coast. It is a large plot of land that was once owned by a Spanish contessa, later by a Czechoslovakian consulate and was later bought with the idea of saving the primary cloud forest and demonstrating that organic farming could be sustainable. Every day the clouds roll in from the coast and frequently dump huge amounts of rain on the area. Right now we are ... read more
L Hesperia -May 2010 156
Lots of machete work to be done!
L Hesperia -May 2010 175

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