Your HostYour Host
Big Gee in Action
Visitor Map YouTube Channel Home Backpacking Caving Climbing Travel Mountaineering Rappelling email Me       
Links Disclaimer Credits
April  May  June  July  August  [September Highlights] October  November  December  January  February  

September 2004 in Ecuador

Papallacta's Nature Trail

27 - 30 Sep: Trekking routes

I spent most of this week with the bossman and Arthur exploring new hiking routes. Morgan wants to reformat his trekking programs and the three of us were trying to put together some interesting hikes for clients. Basically we need 4 hikes around both Cotopaxi and Papallacta. The Cotopaxi program is mostly sorted so we went to Papallacta which was a new area for me. I like these all expenses-paid trips to places I intended to go to anyway. Papallacta is known for it's hot springs. We visited to see the museum and walk the nature trail before looking for more substantial hiking. Once again the weather was not great the two days we were there but we had some interesting hikes up to 4,096 meters and had some excellent fresh trout and fresh cuy at cafe-restaurant-hostel Paraiso where we stayed. You will want to see the 9 MB movie: Eating Cuy. Interestingly I have noticed that the number one search term (circa 2004) that brings people to my website is "cuy". Maybe I should post some recipes to help these people out. Update: Now I have a cuy lover's page!

23 Sep: Hiking in Cotopaxi National Park

Time to learn some of Moggely's trekking routes in Cotopaxi National Park. Arthur and I joined another guide and some clients and ironically basically hiked parallel to the route Chris and I drove a couple days previous. The differences mainly being that we were walking in the rain for a couple hours and we made a visit to the small Inca ruins of Saltire. Then it was back to his hostel where I took some more pictures of the finished rooms again for the website. I wear a lot of hats down here: professional photographer, graphic artist, webmaster, and guide.

16 - 19 Sep: Riobamba, The Devil's Nose trainride, and Ingapirca

California Girl aka Jennifer and I made it to Riobamba after a relaxed start and checked into the recommended El Altar hotel, a place as nice as it is cheap. After dumping off our packs we left in search of some dinner which we found for 70¢. Humorously on the walk back we purchased $19 worth of alcohol. Priorities. The plan was to have a bottle of brandy for the icy ride astride the roof of the Death Train as it hurtled itself dangerously through the Andes down aged tracks at impossible speeds above vertio-inducing gorges. And of course we needed a little something for that night. We chose champaign.

Death Train Nariz del Diablo   The Devil's Nose trainride is variously described by the Lonely Planet and Rough guides to Ecuador as a "hair raising descent from Alausi to Sibambe, down a death-defing stretch of track" and "a sequence of thrilling switchback turns" during which "daredevils" ride on the roof. I remember some mention of men proving their machismo by standing on the roof as the train rockets through tunnels; their heads mere inches from the ceiling. We were understandably excited to be riding this marvel of engineering.

Our expectations were not met. The reality was that the ride was a pleasant trundle through the countryside where Dutch tourists threw lollipops to campesino children waiting alongside the tracks. After Alausí as the train approached the Devils Nose the ride did become more spectacular but "thrilling" or "death-defying"? No. I've been on regular city-to-city bus rides here in Ecuador where passengers screamed in terror. Nobody was screaming here although the Colombian woman next to Jennifer was scared. And there were not any tunnels on this route at all. The Devil's Nose itself was a very small section of track on a very steep section of hill. The train navigates this section by traveling forward and reverse over a couple switchbacks. So in conclusion it is a nice ride and worth the $11. I recommend it if you have the time but don't expect the thrill of a lifetime.

Ingapirca   We left the "Death Train" at Alausí and jumped a bus for Cañar a couple hours further south. The idea was it would be a good base from which to head to the Inca ruins at Ingapirca. Indeed it was but the next morning we got a cheaper deal by hopping a bus 15 minutes north to El Tambo and picking up a taxi there for $5 to the ruins.

Ingapirca I have been wanting to visit for awhile and am surprised it took me so long to make the trip. Ingapirca is the best preserved Inca site in Ecuador but what I found curious is that when I could find a picture of it, it always seemed to show the same building from the same angle. I had a strong suspicion that was because there was really only one building to photograph and I was essentially right. It was a small religious complex that may have also done double duty as a fortress during an Inca civil war before being abandoned and later picked apart for its stones.

It was interesting especially since I haven't visited Inca ruins for just over 3 years (excluding the foundations I saw in Cuenca) but there really wasn't much to see. There was essentially just the one temple building atop a oval wall, a separate rectangular structure, and a bunch of foundations. In addition there was a short hiking trail with a few other things to see including what appeared to be a giant Inca face in a cliff. The small museum had some interesting artifacts too. I think in total we spent about two and a half hours there. After lunch we split up with Jennifer heading south to Cuenca and boredom and me returning to Riobamba briefly before heading to Quito the next day.

15 Sep: My last visa extension

This is it. My last visa extension that I am allowed on the regular T3 tourist visa. That keeps me legal until the 15th of October. After that date I have decided to stay illegally. My plan is to stay in Ecuador for at least another climbing season (Dec - Feb). I seem to be able to pick up odd work so money should not be too much of an issue and I still have things I want to do down here.

When I want to leave the country what is going to happen to me? Nothing really. My friend Stewart recently returned to England after being four months over his limit. He went down to the immigration police and was fined 40¢ and given a 48 hr visa to cover him until his flight. Schweeeet.

More work

Good progress is being made on Moggely's website for their new hostel, Hostel Valhalla. I'm making yet another trip down there for some more photography later this month. The site is largely complete and Morgan likes the design especially the Swedish flag background. That project is coming to an end soon. Then I have some updates for their current website - just test stuff no real changes although depending on their nature I might have to script something to save time.

I'm also well into work for Chris' Andes Range hostel and wholesaler. I've done a few things for him in the past but this is more substantial and includes a new site, redesign of his current site, and a move to a different host. Currently only the broken site is up.

So this is why it doesn't seem like I have been doing too much this month. I have been rather preoccupied with getting these jobs done. I'm looking forward to a few days out of Quito with Jennifer.

08 Sep: Parque Carolinia

It isn't really a tourist destination but after all this time how could I have not visited Parque Carolinia and the shopping malls bordering it. It is well known and popular with residents and given the amount of time I am in Quito, it was worth the walkthrough. The bookstores were a disappointment though.

04 Sep: Daytripping with Chris

Chris, who runs the hostel where I live now, was running a trip out to Otavalo, Laguna Mojanda, and Cayambe's refugio. He invited me to tag along for a few bucks in gas money. I'd been to all those places but what the heck it would be the two of us and four girls. :) I had never been to the Saturday market at Otavalo so that was a nice addition, but it was not really that big a deal. I did finally find the fake shrunken heads that I've been looking for but they were really lame and did not look real at all so after all this time of searching I did not buy any.

03 Sep: Moving urban base camp

My tenure at Hostal Parque Italia is at an end. The website work turned out to be something of a pain in the ass and did not end up being used in the end. But I am out of there now and after spending a couple nights at Moggely House in the center of Gringolandia I am now residing in The Andes Range Hostel owned and operated by Chris, the Australian that I met when I first arrived in Quito. He is a great guy, and I have taken advantage of some of his budget rate shuttles. The hostel is very nice and frequented my many independent travelers so I should be able to meet all sorts of travel partners here. In fact Jennifer returns on the 15th from Argentina, and we have plans to travel south and take the Devil's Nose train ride together after that. I'm also doing some computer and website work but that won't take long at all and should be to his total satisfaction.

April  May  June  July  August  [September Highlights] October  November  December  January  February  

Activities discussed on this site are often dangerous and ill advised.
You can do everything right and still die or be seriously injured. Such is the nature of adventurous pastimes.
The people affiliated with this site make no claims regarding the safety or veracity of information.
Caveat lector. Think for yourself and make your own decisions.

september.php last modified on 25 January 2017 10:59:30 UTC