Posted by: Googie | May 9, 2010

Biking down the Chimborazo

Note: In this post “Biking” => push-biking/bicycling

Matt had heard during his travels that it was possible to arrange for a biking tour down the Chimborazo, and that it was a great experience. He was going to Rio Bamba this weekend to do it, and I decided to join him. We reached Rio Bamba on Saturday evening, checked into a cheap room, and set off to arrange for the tour.


That’s an interesting way to open a coconut

The first place we went to was called Probici and was run by an affable guy called Galo. Galo gave us an overview of the various route options that we had along with the costs associated with each. Since there was a 3rd person who was interested in biking on the same day, we got a good deal along with a free bonus hike to a nearby “twisted trees” forest. We thought that this was a steal for $40, so we decided to look no further and take up Galo on his offer, and chose our bikes and other equipment.

After some shopping for the next day, a traditional Ecuadorian dinner and a few beers, we decided to call it a day.

Galo met us just outside our hostel with 3 bikes loaded on his Toyota 4WD, so we knew that the 3rd guy was coming for sure. His name was Jeremy and he was from the UK. Along the way to the Chimborazo, we stopped by a bull farm and spotted a few fighting bulls.


The farm where fighting bulls are raised


Driving to the Chimborazo


A Vicuña along the road


First look at the Chimborazo

Then we drove off-road for a bit, and hiked up a small hill and ended up in the “twisted trees” forest. The forest was rather unique because it seemed quite out-of-place. The trees only grew on the leeward side of the hill, as it was way too windy at all other places.


The strange twisted trees

After the forest, we drove up to the first base camp and parked. Then we proceeded to hike up another 950 feet to reach the second base camp that was just beyond the snow line. This was the first time that I was touching snow in Ecuador. Once back at the first base camp, we unloaded the bikes and Galo gave us some last minute instructions, and we were off.


Hiking up to the second base camp


Wallowing in the snow

Within the first 20 metres I knew that this was not going to be a walk-in-the-park. It was freezing cold and my fingers had gone numb inside my gloves. It had begun to rain a little, but under the power of the gale force winds, the rain droplets were needles stinging our faces. The loose gravel, the steep descent and the deep ridges on the road made it quite a dangerous endeavour. Seemingly unperturbed by all this, Matt being the experienced biker that he is, tore off down the road with Jeremy and I coming down at our own pace. A few kilometres later, just when I thought I’d got the hang of it, I lost control and ate some dirt. Thankfully the soft gravel cushioned my fall and I escaped with nothing more than a bruised ego. The rest of the ride was challenging and at the same time amazing. Before we knew it, we’d covered the 14 km to the next rendezvous point.

At this point, there were 2 roads – one going back to Rio Bamba (which involved more mountain biking and where we could get great views of the mighty mountain on a clear day) and the other going to Ambato (which involved 45 km of asphalt road biking and no Chimborazo). With the rains showing no signs of stopping, there was no way we could see any more of the Chimborazo today, so Matt and I wanted to go to Ambato. But Galo & Jeremy wanted to go the other way. Finally after a long debate, we convinced Galo & Jeremy to ride to Ambato and began the asphalt road biking stretch.


A quick picture taken when the rain paused for a bit


Biker Googie

The views along the road was simply breath-taking. But the incessant rains meant, 1. we couldn’t take our cameras out to get any pictures, and 2. we got completely drenched. But we got to Ambato in good time, said goodbye to the other guys, and caught a bus back to Salasaca. All-in-all, 40 dollars well spent.

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  1. is that animal an alpaca???

    • Its a Vicuña!
      Editing picture caption now…

  2. Googie,

    Thanks for the lovely postcard. Wishing you many more great times 🙂

    – SL

  3. I liked Chimborazo but having hiked up Mt Fuji, I can honesty say it was heavenly experience. The view from the summit of Mt Fuji looks awesome too

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