From Quito I headed towards Banos, a spa town close to the most active volcano in Ecuador: Tungurahua. Signs of evacuation spots have been visible everywhere in town. Unfortunately clouds have been covering up the almost 5000m high stratovolcano to make it unable to see it. Instead I enjoyed the hot springs in town, a steam bath and some low budget sports like bike ride (renting bikes for 5 USD per day) and a hike above the town.
I should say that I haven’t done that all on my own. In the Quito hostel, I found a group with a similar route of travelling and with a similar level of fitness. It really did match well and for that time I was pretty happy having travelled with them. Big thanks to little Morgan, Alex and Matt.
After 2 nights in the Hostel Chimenea (great location for the hot springs and awesome breakfast) we left for Riobamba. We stayed in the Hotel Montecarlo for 15USD per person per night in a 4-bed-room, breakfast include. It was fairly loud but then very central and convenient to meet up with the bike agency the next day.On Tripadvisor you can find Probici. They offer some amazing day trips around the volcano Chimborazo for 60USD. We had a cycle guide and a car following us taking our clothes, water and sandwiches just for us 4. They bring spare bikes and provide you amazing information about the area, landscape and culture. Even tough one might think that downhill is not hard, I should mention that you can also decide to cycle up: to the highest forest in Ecuador at 4500m elevation. This is roughly a 150m climb which made my lungs burn a lot. However, I would have never expected that my lungs and my legs would support this kind of activity at such an altitude.
We were driven to 4800m elevation and hiked up a bit further to 5070m altitude. It was of course harder than hiking in the Alps and I could feel that the air got thinner. Nevertheless I was able to pick up some stuff on the ground, and lift my body up again without feeling my head spinning around. A very positive surprise. And even though walking speed is much slower it did not bring me to a limit, especially this short climb of less than 300m of altitude. When we came back to our support car, we started the downhill track which was interrupted by some explanations, climbing some short sections or getting the bikes on the car to go somewhere else. Finally we cycled 47km with a 1600m elevation loss and maybe 250m elevation gain (at high altitude).