Western Andes Multisport, 3 Days
Activities: Mountain Biking, Rafting, and Hiking
Western Andes Multisport, 3 Days
A classic multi-sport adventure, this trip takes us on mountain bikes down the slopes of a volcano through spectacular changes of scenery and vegetation, on a hike in one of the most bio-diverse forests in the world, and finally on rafting adventure down the thunderous waters of the Rio Blanco.
- Bike an exhilarating trail through diverse ecosystems down the slopes of a volcano.
- Hike through a lush cloud forest filled with waterfalls, wildlife, and over 500 bird species.
- Explore a pond at night to look and listen for frogs and other nocturnal life.
- Raft the Rio Blanco, the best river run of Ecuador’s coastal Andes.
DAY 1: MOUNTAIN BIKE TO MONTANE CLOUD FOREST
DAY 2: HIKE THE MINDO CLOUD FOREST RESERVE
DAY 3: RAFT THE RIO BLANCO
DAY 1: MOUNTAIN BIKE TO MONTANE CLOUD FOREST We begin our adventure driving from Quito up and around the west face of Guagua Pichincha, the huge volcano that looms over the city. Once we reach the trailhead, we fine-tune our mountain bikes and start cycling north. At first, the trail climbs a smooth, steady incline to 3,300 meters of elevation. We enjoy beautiful highland scenery as we climb. After we crest the high point, we begin a thrilling downhill ride.
As we descend, we can see the ecosystem around us change from high grasslands into montane cloud forest. This is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, as species from the Amazon, Choco Rainforest, and Andes all converge here. The plant and animal diversity is a wonder to behold, especially in the protected Mindo cloud forest reserve, where we will be spending the next two days. We bike through this beautiful environment until we reach our handsome eco-lodge near the reserve, where we enjoy a gourmet dinner and spend a relaxing evening taking in the tranquil atmosphere of the forest night. (L, D)
DAY 2: HIKE THE MINDO CLOUD FOREST RESERVE Today we set out on foot to explore the incredible landscapes and biodiversity of the Mindo cloud forest reserve. Mindo is primarily known as a bird watching paradise. The reserve’s 14,000 hectares is home to over 500 recorded bird species. The first leg of our hike takes us to a group of beautiful waterfalls set in stunning primary cloud forest. As we hike, we observe dozens of orchid and butterfly species, in addition to a wealth of birds, including the famous Andean Cock of the Rock,
quetzals, tanagers, toucanets, and motmots.
We return to our lodge for lunch and relax for a while before setting out on another hike at dusk. As the sun sets, we experience the magical awakening of the forest’s nocturnal species. Our destination is a nearby pond, home to an amphibian conservation project, where the local frogs serenade us with their nightly concert. We then take a short walk around the pond to meet the amphibian performers and their nocturnal friends up close. (B, L, D)
DAY 3: RAFT THE RIO BLANCO Today we bid farewell to Mindo and drive to the nearby Rio Blanco, called “White River” because of its relentless flow of whitewater rapids. Rio Blanco is home to the best rafting run in Ecuador’s western Andes, with scenery and rapids on par with its Amazonian neighbors. After a short safety briefing and instructional session at the put-in, we blast through 30 km of Class III to III+ rapids. As we paddle through big waves and fast whitewater, we are surrounded by breathtaking rainforest scenery and abundant bird life, including cormorants, herons, and kingfishers. With luck, we might also run across some of the local river otter families. After an adrenaline-filled day on the river, we return to Quito in the afternoon. (B, L)
Private transportation, overnight accommodations, rafting equipment, quality mountain bikes (Shimano Deore 27 speed, front suspension, disc brakes), spare bicycle, helmet, gloves, professional bilingual guide and meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
hotel & restaurant beverages, and tips
TRAVEL TIME: 1 to 3 hours per day
SEASON: All year
ALTITUDE: 500 m to 3300 m (1,600 ft to 11,000 ft)
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE CLOUDFOREST: DAY 18-30ºC, NIGHT 14-20ºC, high humidity
SUGGESTED: Non-cotton trekking gear, hat, sunglasses, sun block and mosquito repellent
WHITEWATER CLASSIFICATION: Class I – easy, Class II – novice, Class III – intermediate, Class IV – advanced, Class V – expert