Cotococha Lodge to Quito

……the last leg; bringing it home!
Day 12; Cotococha Lodge, Tena to Quito. 233Km/145m
To catch up with the story so far; click Day 1, Day 2, Day 3Day 4Day 5, Day 6, Day 7/8, Day 9, Day 10 & Day 11

The last leg of this amazing trip got off to a sad start as we had to take the decision to leave the wonderful Cotococha Lodge a day early. Hurricane Irma is bearing down on our home and business and we needed to get back to the city to more reliable wifi and cell service so we could start making arrangements to get back home. Cotococha is a wonderful place but we just could not relax and enjoy the facilities not knowing what was happening at home and with our daughter.
Not the way we wanted such a brilliant trip to end but hey ho, thanks Irma!
The folks at Cotococha were incredibly helpful to us. Karim, the manager, made sure we had all we needed and made calls for us where Spanish was needed! I definitely recommend them for a stay.

On the bike again we headed off on our way to Quito. Shortly after leaving the Lodge, the route takes a right hand turn over a bridge. I had long had ideas and plans for photos on that bridge. Sadly, this morning, neither of felt like going through the palaver of stopping, getting off and on and turning around etc. that would be involved in setting these shots up so we just rode over and carried on – in hindsight, I wish we had taken the time to do this 🙁

We rolled on through the town and came to a roundabout. The exit we needed had traffic cones half way across it; we sailed on through – they were only half way across after all, what could that possibly mean?!?
Onwards we sailed, the only vehicle on the road. We thought nothing of that aside from how nice it was not to be being harassed by other drivers! All this came to a screaming halt when we rounded a corner to take the bridge across the river and there was none! Bridge down, bridge down!!
The workers looked at us as if we were crazy as Iain executed a perfect u-turn and we tried to work out a detour! The GPS of course kept trying to take us back to the non-bridge so I had to hang over Iain’s shoulder and do some strategic directing! After about ten minutes we were back on route and belting down the road again!

We were lucky that this couple were on the roadside pointing the cows out to us – we may never have them!

 

The weather this morning had been very hot and humid and as wound our way down the route, skirting the mountain range, Iain was looking longingly at the hills hoping that the route would take us that way for one last fix of winding thrills!

Before long, he was happy to note that we were leaving the junglesque vegetation behind and gaining some elevation. As the roads began to move in to sweeping curves, the humidity left and the air became cooler and more comfortable.

However, as we climbed higher up in to the hills there was a dense and heavy fog which made the going slow and remarkably colder!

Also, quite difficult to negotiate at times as were once again reminded that “peligro” is Spanish for; “big heap of stuff in the road” or, “half the road missing”.
There were many “hazards” along this road. There was evidence of huge landslides that had obviously just swept out the road way.

In some places, there were whole areas of the edge of the road just gone, occasionally these would be marked or cordoned off, but not always! Quite often we’d be happily cruising along on tarmac and the gradient would suddenly change and we were back to dirt road riding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time during our trip in this land of crazy drivers, we saw evidence of someone going just a tad too far in his chase to the leader.

As the altitude increased we moved through the fog and everything cleared to display some great views of the raging river below.
  

Now and then, as we descended to the valley, we would cross and I would try to take some great shots of the rapids; I really should learn that when I try to take a pic on a bridge, I am never going to get a good shot, unless you’re interested in the side rails, even when I tried to stand on my pegs!

We also saw many huge waterfalls just randomly cascading out of the hillside – and sometimes on the roadside hills!

It was a stunning and exhilarating ride but did start to get cold! I had learnt on our trip from Cuenca to Baños the other day that I shouldn’t be stubborn and eventually, as we reached 12000+ ft again, I asked Iain to stop so we could put our jacket liners and gloves on – the very last hour of our 12 day ride and I finally pull out the gloves!

We also had our last police check stop today. This time we didn’t get waved on through when I gave our tried and tested statement; “lo siento, no habla Espanol”. This one was rather keen to see our documents but when he saw the kerfuffle we would have to go through getting off to retrieve them, he obviously wasn’t that bothered and waved us on our way 😉

 

Shortly after, as we began to descend again, we could see the city of Quito, spreading out in the distance. The end of the trip was nigh.

All too soon, we winding our way up the narrow, cobbled, switchbacks and heading into the city, back to where we started.

Twelve days and an adrenaline-charged 2458Km later we arrived safely back at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rentals headquarters.
Our trip was done – what a fantastic time we have had 🙂

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