From my base in Quito Ecuador, I spent the day visiting the Historic Centre and the Middle of the World – Manuel Cordova Galarza, Quito, Ecuador. I will tell you from the outset I am an in and out traveller in regards to major tourist attractions and both these are no exceptions. I would probably avoid these places on weekends.
From my base in Quito Ecuador, I decided to take the Quilotoa Loop. which is a remote circuit that crosses through mountain villages such as Quilotoa, Latacunga, Saquisilí, Chugchilán, Sigchos, Zumbahua, Toacazo, Guangaje, Isinliví and Tigua. I took off early morning and made my way up to the mountain. The first part of the trip was mainly along the highway, then as you enter the loop you circle up high into the mountains and the roads are well paved and fun.
One night in Pasto got me ready for my border crossing heading to Quito, Ecuador. I left for Quito before first light, and I would reach the border crossing by around 8 am, for hopefully a fast border crossing. I only had 216 miles(348 kilometres) to travel, as I always do shorter trips for border crossing days, so I thought I would arrive in Quito by just after midday.
After only 2 rain-soaked nights in Cali, my next destination would be Pasto, Colombia. Again I had an amazing riding day with lots of switchbacks (hairpin turns) and elevated riding. I also met a great guy from Cali, Luis who was traveling around Colombia on his moto. We chatted for about 20 minutes before a bridge. He is a bit of a base guitar rock guru in Colombia.
After 3 nights relaxing and sightseeing in Medellin (see my previous post on my trip to Medellin), I was back on the road – destination Cali. On my way to Cali, I would pass over some spectacular mountains and down through valleys dotted with pretty villages. I was really getting a feel for the Andes and the gorgeous backdrop it provides for the ultimate mountain riding experience.
After a few weeks in Cartagena, it was time to set to off to Medellin, Colombia! I spent the extra time in Cartagena getting my bike ready and spending time with friends. I loved my time in Cartegena, but it was time to get me and my motorbike on the road again, and Medellin would be the perfect second stop.
After we had boarded the Stahlratte, we were told to get to our bunks and sort out our luggage and then reconvene in 15 minutes on the upper deck for a full briefing before we headed out to sea. You can read about getting to the Stahlratte here. All the cases went into storage areas, and I had a lower bunk and kept my backpack, helmet, clothes bad (including wash bag) and tank bag with my bed. All of our bikes are already under covers when we board.
After staying three nights in Panama City and having time to explore this very modern city and the slums nearby, it was finally time to get to Puerto Carti and the Stahlratte to get across the Darien Gap. We headed out of Panama City to Puerto Carti at about 6.30am and was again greeted with the Panama City persistent rain. It took about 45 minutes to get out of the traffic and into the Guna Kala region, which was good, traffic was annoying!
After staying one road soaked night in David, Panama, it was time to get to Panama City, which would be my final major city in Central America. My front tire on my KTM 1290 Super Adventure was now leaking at about 15 PSI per hour, not good and I was also running low on coolant. The roads were pretty much straight highways and the weather was beautiful one moment and pouring with rain the next. I was beginning to think that is all that happens in Panama, is rain!
Just the two nights in Jaco, Costa Rica, saw me swiftly on my way to David, Panama to get to Panama City on the 18th. A riding day that started out just fine, that is, until I reached the Panama border and consistent torrential rain. Traveling just under 200 miles (316 kilometers) a trip which took me all up – over eight hours. Ouch!