Rushing through Ecuador and Peru

Written by Martin on May 9th, 2012. Posted in Allgemein

p1160093Martin: As usual we don’t face any problems at the border and take a bus to Quito, which we reach about 6 hours later. What strikes us right away is the city centre with it’s beautiful buildings that date back to the 16th to the 19th century, thus making it an outdoor museum for architecture lovers. To preserve this beauty it had been declared UNESCO Heritage already back in 1978. Situated in a valley at 3000m asl it’s also the highest legal capital of the world. Especially at night, when everything is beautifully lightened up, strolling through it takes you on a journey back in time. Unfortunately we won’t have much time, as we get the information that our bikes will arrive in Valparaiso one week sooner than expected, giving us a week and a half to travel 5000km down south…

After two days it’s time to say goodbye to Eugenie and while she takes a taxi to the airport we jump on a bus to visit one of the worlds highest active volcanoes, the 5.900m Cotopaxi. As its quite late as we arrive we decide to stay in a cheap hotel in Machachi and hire a guy to drive us up the next day. The village is nothing special, but we find a very good restaurant with excellent steaks for 6 Euros. The drive to the National Park takes one hour… Well, two for us, as Sebas realizes, just as we reach the park, that he once again forgot his hip bag with all his credit cards and passport in the hotel. As the employee there hadn’t seemed all to kosher to us, Sebas is sitting on needles to get back. Luckily, the room hadn’t been cleaned yet and the bag is still where he left it.

The good thing about this round trip is, that we get a good overview on the hostels and hotels around the park and decide to stay in a great hacienda close to the main entrance. Staff is great, so is the whole place and the both of us wished we could stay there for a couple of days. As we are walking to the volcano we pass by some lamas hanging out in the vast fields, watch gauchos on their horses riding along and enjoy the peacefulness of this beautiful area.


We go back to Quito and take a night bus that takes us to the border with Peru. As we get out of the bus we are right away surrounded by strange looking people trying to sell us bus tickets, a ride to the immigration and exchange money. This border town is exactly what many travelers hate and the government is not a real help, locating the immigration office quite far away from the city, thus making you somehow dependent on someone taking you. We decline everything and decide to have a coffee to discuss what to do. Knowing this will be a rip off we nevertheless decide to take a driver who at least offered a cheaper price to take us to and back from immigration.

The town seems to be half Ecuadorian, half Peruvian, only separated by a little river, a bridge and a Peruvian welcome sign. As we cross the bridge the same thing repeats, we are surrounded by people offering us a ride to immigration and into the main town 40km away, where the busses leave. This time we ask two police officers for help, only to find out that they seemingly informed us wrong about no public busses going via immigration and observe as they get paid the driver they appoint us. Well, at least, as there is no central bus station but several companies spread over the town, we let our driver take us to different ones and wait with paying him until we have our bus tickets in our hands.

Our first stop is Cajamarca in the north of Peru, where we visit the Children Village, for which we make our fundraising campaign. The busses in Peru are great, like first class on an airplane and since the country is huge, night busses are conveniently offered for most destinations. Arrived in Cajamarca, we are right away impressed by the beautiful square and the main church and find out, that it’s Peru’s only city with baroque-style buildings. Also, it’s here where the last and final battle between the Spanish and the Incas took place in 1532, where the Spanish tricked and killed the last Inca emperor Atahualpa. It additionally hosts SA most profitable gold mine and has a famous dairy production. During our visit of the children village we find out that unfortunately only a minority profits from this culturally, and with resources blessed region and many people and children live in severe conditions below the poverty line. We are very impressed how the Children Village is helping the families and children and about their plans to widen their activities. For more information on their activities and how you can support them, please visit our Fundraising Initiative Page.

From Cajamarca we head off to Lima, where we meet Ximena, a Peruvian friend of mine from Vienna, who by chance happens to be there on vacation. She booked us a great hostel in Miraflores, a nice neighborhood on the sea shore and we spend a great time with her and her incredibly kind family. Peru is not only the birthplace of the excellent Pisco Sour cocktail, but also a culinary paradise, the world famous Ceviche, a sea-food salad, only one of an endless amount of dishes that spoil your palate. The food is so delicious, that the both of us don’t eat until we’ve had enough, but just to the point where we are about to explode. Definitely not a country where to go on a diet 🙂

But not only the food and Pisco is great, also the nightlife has lots to offer. Together with Xime and her sisters Lorena and Claudia we enjoy a great evening in Barranco, one of the areas famous for it’s night life. Having the atmosphere of a village, Barranco offers traditional style restaurants as well as bars that meet everyones taste. After yet another great dinner at a Heuriger (= wine place typical in Eastern Austria)-like restaurant, we – to our joy – find a place with a table soccer and end up playing the whole evening, impressed how great the girls play.

On our last evening we have another great dinner at her parents’s place where Xime’s dad turns out to be an excellent saxophone player… and Claudia a very gifted preparer of Pisco Sour 🙂 After several jugs of Pisco Sour we run out of Pisco and decide to hit Barranco again, this time Xime and Claudia take us to a bar called Ayahuasca. The bar is just great, located in a kind of family house, every room is designed differently, offering various atmospheres wherever you go. This, with a great selection of music, make sure that you are bound to feel well. We spend a great night and arrive sometime in the morning hours back in hour hostel. At noon we get up, both of us not feeling all to well and we have to admit to ourselves, that we are getting too old for a night-out like this 🙂

After 3 perfect days with Xime and her family it’s time to say goodbye and hit the road again. We take a bus that drives us to the border. From there by collectivo (shared car) to Peruvian and Chilean immigration and after 30 hours on bus and car we finally set foot in Chile. Ecuador and Peru had been – even though short – a great experience, as usual, also thanks to the people we met and could spent time with. As I already knew the beautiful south of Peru, it had been very interesting to see the north and to get a glimpse on Ecuador, definitely a place to come back. Peru has lots to offer and our rush-through gave Sebas, who had been here for the first time, the chance to get an idea of this beautiful country. And if Perus spectacular landscapes and history don´t  make him come back, then it’s definitely going to be the food 🙂

From Arica, Chiles border town, still a more than 30 hour bus ride separates us from our bikes which arrive in Valparaiso. How we manage to get our bikes out of customs, why we feel like home and, once again, get the chance to meet great people and see spectacular landscapes…but that’s another story. Interested? Stay tuned 🙂