Ecuador is one of the most bike-friendly countries in South America. Paved roads here are excellent quality and well maintained, and there is no shortage of mountain twisties – in fact, it’s hard to find a straight road in Ecuador. Equally, there are plenty of off-road trails and tracks available for those of you who prefer riding dirt. From graded dirt roads and gravel trails to single track and more technical trails, you can discover the entire country on dirt.
The travel infrastructure is very well developed in Ecuador, so you will have plenty of fuel, food, and accommodation options along the way. Ecuador uses US dollar, so there won’t be any currency confusion traveling here!
When it comes to traffic conditions, Ecuadorians are friendly drivers, but some of the rules we are accustomed to in the West are interpreted differently here. Be aware than when Ecuadorian drivers flash their lights, they aren’t letting you pass – it’s the other way round: they are warning you that they’re going for it, and you should give way. Traffic at roundabouts can be a tad chaotic in the big cities, but simply stay alert and ride defensively, and once you figure out local courtesies and traffic habits, you’ll be riding like a local in no time. Bonus point? In Ecuador, motorcycles go free at road tolls!
Do watch your speed, however: Ecuadorians are very strict with speeding fines, so never ride over the limit and watch out for landslides, animals, or kids on the road. It’s not unusual to see a herd of wild vicunas or domestic lamas strolling casually down a busy Andean route!
Because Ecuador sits right on the equator, or latitude zero, there are no seasons here, which means the country experiences spring-like weather year-round. From October through to May, it rains a little more, especially in the Andean regions and Quito; however, the rains never last, so after an hour-long shower, expect sunshine again. You can ride Ecuador any time of the year, but we recommend bringing four-season riding gear and packing a couple of warmer layers. This is because at high attitude, the weather gets much chillier, and it’s best to come prepared. Don’t forget to bring your Camelback when riding in the Andes: it’s important to stay hydrated at higher altitudes.
Ecuador boasts several active and dormant volcanos situated on the ridge of the Andes Mountains running across the middle of the country. You can see them all – the majestic Chimborazo towering 20,548 feet above the sea level, the spectacular, cone-shaped Tungurahua, the twin Illinizas and the lone yet extremely active Sangay riding the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a route connecting the biggest and most impressive Andean volcanoes in the country. If you’re lucky, you may even see Volcano Sangay erupt – all from the safety and comfort of a rainforest lodge.
Nestled deep in the Ecuadorian Andes, the Quilotoa Crater Lake is a sight to behold: bright admiral blue crater lake corralled by the jagged edges of the mountains is a must-see in Ecuador, and you can get very close to it aboard your motorcycle. Local indigenous legend has it, Quilotoa was once a volcano in love with Cotopaxi, another volcano up North. However, the Illinizas, the parents of Quilotoa, forbade the marriage. Heartbroken, Quilotoa erupted and collapsed, filling the crater with turquoise tears. Whether the folk tale is true or not, Quilotoa crater is an amazing sight on your motorcycle tour in Ecuador.
Accessing the Amazon basin is no easy task, but here in Ecuador, you can get a glimpse of the rainforest up close and personal. Yasuni National Park offers good access to the famed Amazon basin, and you can ride your motorcycle right into the towns and communities where the rainforest begins. Pink dolphins, sloths, spider monkeys, caymans, and other wildlife can bee seen right from the saddle of your motorcycle or during a canoe tour down the Rio Napo, one of the biggest tributaries of the mighty Amazon River.
Ecuadorians are dedicated foodies: from the Pacific Coast to the Andes and the Amazon, each region has its own distinct cuisine, and it’s worth sampling it all. Ecuadorian chocolate is world-famous, and here, you can go on a chocolate tour to see how it’s made from cacao bean to bar; coffee, fresh exotic fruits and juices, and various homemade cheeses are also a must. On the coast, be sure to try local seafood, and in the mountains, roasted guinea pig is a daily staple. After dinner, order a glass of canelazo, a traditional Ecuadorian hot drink made with sugar cane, cinnamon, and aguardiente: it’s an equivalent of European mulled wine, except much more delicious!
We’ve already mentioned Ecuador’s incredible biodiversity, but the best part is that you can see a lot of wildlife as you’re riding along. Wild vicunas and llamas roam the high Andean plateaus freely, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a spectacled bear in the mountains. On the Western slopes of the Andes, the cloud forests are full of hummingbirds (you will see them often) and armadillos, and in the east, on the Amazon side, you’ll spot paradise birds, boa snakes, and capuchin monkeys. Riding motorcycles in Ecuador is a little like going on your own private safari, so make sure your camera or phone are always fully charged!