Ecuadorian Epic With H+I Adventures, Thomas Vanderham, and Scotty Laughland

The following story is presented by H+I Adventures. Euan Wilson just returned from a trip to Ecuador in South America with Thomas Vanderham and Scotty Laughland. The following details are the account of his riding experiences on this one of a kind cycling adventure.

Landing into Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, I had an overriding feeling of bewilderment. It was distinctly nothing like I’d imagined, but it also reminded me of several countries at the same time… It was my first experience of South America, and I expected a chaotic and nervous arrival into its city streets, it was neither.

H+I Adventures Ecuador photo story with Thomas Vanderham and Scotty Laughland

The route plotted over the coming week would see us circumnavigate Quito, going both North and South and over the equator for good measure.

We’d take in lush jungles, arid deserts lined by cactus, and even onto the high-altitude slopes of Cotopaxi volcano. The crew assembled by H+I Adventures was an eclectic mix. Thomas Vanderham flew down from Vancouver while Scotty Laughland joined from Scotland, alongside a selection of their core staff both from the UK and in-country in Ecuador.

We’d reach as high as 4800m meaning oxygen was at a premium, with this in mind the focus would be on gravity orientated riding which none of us sniffed at. To shake the jet lag off, we started with a spin through the eucalypts forests surrounding Quito, before an evening pump track session at H+I guide José’s house. We’d then kick things off correct and proper the next morning.

First up was Infernillo or “Little Hell” as it’s known thanks to the abundant mosquito population. In truth, it was more heaven like. We were marooned in the green jungle on a ribbon of ancient Inca trail lined by lush vegetation, the powdery volcanic surface hidden deep within a gulley that encouraged and rewarded playful riding.

In contrast to the green of the opening day, we then made our way to the dust bowl of Chota, a favorite moto enduro spot that happens to be just as good without an engine. Having rattled through whoops and roosted through axle deep dust, both Scotty and Thomas got a little too close to the cactus lining the side of the trails and spent the afternoon removing the thorns from their hands and tires.

The diverse terrain of Ecuador was unbelievable. We were now three-quarters of the way up Cotopaxi, staring down at an untouched ashfield which we had the pleasure of surfing and carving down. That wasn’t even the best bit… Cotopaxi had one last unexpected treat for us in the form of “Heaven’s Ridge,” a narrow strip of trail lined with blue and red flowers which were firmly thrust into all of our ‘best trails ever’ list.

The following day was spent traversing the flanks of Cotopaxi to her opposite side, ending up three hours from civilization at a remote hacienda called El Tambo. We’d get to experience a traditional chagra cowboy at work as he rounded up cattle and went about day to day life on the ranch which was a joy to watch.

Traditional Chagra Cowboy in Ecuador

After watching the world awaken around Cotopaxi, we began to make our way back to Quito via the stunning Quilotoa Lagoon, riding around the rim of the volcanic crater filled with inviting turquoise blue waters.  It’s a relaxed end to proceedings before we pack up the van and head for the airport and the subsequent lengthy flight home.

stunning Quilotoa Lagoon

H+I Adventures: View available tours here, or book your own epic adventure to Ecuador:

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