Ecuador, Long Known for Its Wildlife, Becomes a Mountain-Biking Hub
The capital city of Quito is no longer just a stop-off point for travelers headed to Ecuador’s biodiversity hot spots. In the past decade, riders have discovered hundreds of miles of world-class singletrack, much of it on centuries-old footpaths crossing high desert, cloudforest, and some of the world’s tallest volcanoes. It’s a four-hour flight from Miami; here’s how to get in on the action.
Mountain-Biking Ecuador: Cruise
World Bike Adventures cracked open Ecuador’s scene with singletrack trips in 2009. Its 10-day Downhill Safari explores the best rides in Quito and Cuenca. Guests warm up on trails through Incan ruins, then head to Cuenca to ride clay rollers. While in Quito, feast on ceviche at El Ventanal and stay on the flanks of Pichincha volcano at Hacienda Rumiloma, a boutique hotel with killer views. August 20–29, $2,800 per person (includes domestic flight).
Mountain-Biking Ecuador: Go Big
For a bucket-list epic, it’s hard to beat a 10-day trip that climbs 6,000 feet and drops 36,000 along the spine of the Andes. H&I Adventures’ Taming the Dragon itinerary starts with a 4,265-foot singletrack descent from the mouth of Pululagua volcano. Next up: a ride around 19,347-foot Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. The trip culminates in a 7,545-foot descent on the Mamarumi trail, an old bootlegging path. June 29–July 8 or November 30–December 9; $2,736 per person all-inclusive.
Mountain-Biking Ecuador: Fly Solo
Not ready for 6,000-foot climbs? Explore Quito’s volcanoes and valleys from dozens of lodges, boutique hotels, or hostels. Base yourself at historic La Casona de la Ronda (doubles from $140), and rent a front-suspension Trek 3500 from Biking Dutchman (from $15 per day). Jan, the owner, can put you on trails suited to your skill, whether you want to tour the old city or find your own singletrack. After the ride, catch a bus south to Baños, where you can splash under waterfalls and soak in hot springs in Ecuador’s famed gateway to the Amazon.