We often go to our fearless leader Phil Freeman for background and testimonials for many MotoQuest adventures because he’s ridden them countless times and has a passion for seeing the world on two wheels. But when it comes to Ecuador, Phil has another reason why he loves it so much.
In the 1990s, Phil lived and studied in Ecuador as a University Exchange Student. Back then, Phil didn’t ride a motorcycle, but he loved to travel to the far ends of the country. Once motorcycles came into the picture, he vowed to return to Ecuador and explore from the saddle of a motorcycle.
He returned some years later and while it had changed in many ways, it also stayed the same. From the beauty to the hospitality, it was a country that Phil wanted others to have the opportunity to explore.
We decided to ask Phil a few questions about why Ecuador should absolutely be on your bucket list of adventures! You can also see what others have said about experiencing Ecuador with MotoQuest – including a guest who ranked us #1 on his list of over 15 different tours he’s ridden – or join us yourself this November 4 – 16, 2019!
What are some of the most important reasons our MotoQuest friends don’t want to miss out on an adventure to Ecuador?
Many times when we offer a tour in a country that is unfamiliar to some, safety becomes their main concern. I wanted to put that to rest right away because Ecuador is a safe and culturally rich destination in South America. It is arguably the most bio-diverse country in the world. It is the size of the state of Colorado, but it has every imaginable climate from the Pacific Coast, to the Andes, and the Amazon Basin. You literally can ride the world in one country.
Being an OPEC (petroleum export) nation and an economy based on the US Dollar, Ecuador sets itself apart as a safe country to explore in South America. The infrastructure there – in terms of roads – is European grade. In other words, the roads are fantastic. One thing you’ll find only in Ecuador is the ability to enjoy lovely sunsets on the Pacific Ocean under a canopy of palm trees one day, and then ride along a glaciated conical volcano the next. If that’s not enough, you can bathe under a waterfall in the Amazon Basin after that. It offers a rider all the superlatives when it comes to roads, topography, hospitality and overall scenery. I believe this trip is perfect for adventurous couples.
MotoQuest goes to some amazing places. What stands out about this adventure?
What makes this ride unique in our MotoQuest menu is that we purposely sought the very best accommodations in the entire country. We don’t always do this, but in the case of Ecuador, we did. We based our riding itinerary on the fact that Ecuador is diverse, so we show the riders everything we possibly can in an 11-day touring format. The routes we chose were selected by local riders who know the country and know the best roads. We work closely with locals in every country we conduct tours, but Ecuador, in particular, is special because of the support we have there. Our guides are fluent in English and local to the area. This makes for a much richer cultural experience when learning about Ecuador during the day or around the dinner table. Our guides are well connected and undaunted problem solvers, in case anything goes sideways. In South America, anyone who travels there knows the value of a good fixer, and we have the best.
What makes a trip to Ecuador something adventure seekers need to experience for themselves?
Ecuador is that timeless, peaceful, diverse banana republic that warmly welcomes you. You can swing carelessly in a hammock while watching the sun go down over the ocean, or you can wander through an indigenous market in the Andes and overhear locals speaking in Quechua. You can even go to sleep to the vigorous night sounds of the Amazon Canopy above you. It’s a dream of a country in terms of how much variety you can experience on a cultural and environmental scale. Pound for pound, Ecuador packs the biggest punch in terms of diversity.
For those who wanted to ride a little bit more, I chose a 30-mile circuit that climbed high into the mountains and overlooked Tungurahua, Baños’ hometown volcano. The ride was about an hour and a half, but it was full of pastoral, volcanic, and river valley scenes. It took us far off the tourist track, and we experienced daily farm life to the backdrop of mountainous splendor. Little options like this are not as easy to convey on our tour page, but this ride is a sheer delight, and the riders who chose to join me that day loved it!
What can people expect from this trip and why should it be done with a tour like MotoQuest?
I think it’s important to note that we purposefully created the itinerary to have long days, short days, and one free day in the middle of the trip. I believe this makes for a better canter for the adventure. Some days you gear up to ride a long day, the next you stop and sniff the daisies. This makes the ride more enjoyable and comfortable for the rider.
To me, the reason you would go on any organized trip is because of the location and the camaraderie. All of our riders are capable of doing most of our trips on their own, but the laughter around the dinner table is the one thing they can’t pack in their bag. All of our guides exude fun, safety, and seek a healthy dose of quality food, accommodations and riding routes.
Safety is huge for us, and that is why we put you in personal contact with our guides well before the trip starts and enroll each rider automatically in Global Rescue, a service that will provide emergency transportation to anywhere in the world at no cost to the rider.
Does anything stand out from one of your trips to Ecuador?
Anytime we get positive testimonials from people it gives me such delight to know that we put together an awesome adventure and executed it with our vision.
After one of our tours in Ecuador, I was told by one of the riders that out of the 15 motorcycle tours he has taken, Ecuador was the best. He had ridden with all the well-regarded motorcycle tour operators, so I asked him why.
He stated that not only was the route excellent, but the hotels were just out of this world. He really enjoyed the type of rider that came on the trip, the food and the organization. When he told me this, all I could do was tingle, because it means we are doing it right. This rider can go on any tour, with any company, at any time, and he chose us.
If you’re still undecided on Ecuador just from Phil’s words alone, take it from a few of our fellow riders who have experienced it. They very much echo Phil’s thoughts!
“Ecuador might be a small country on the scale of South America, but it is a concentration of all the best things the continent offers: beautiful Pacific coastline, high, snow-capped mountains of the Andes, rainforest, the Amazon jungle, volcanoes, fantastic biodiversity, gorgeous food, incredible scenery, smooth twisty roads, and friendly and cheerful inhabitants. The MotoQuest-chosen itinerary gives you the opportunity to experience it all, and much more. My best memory is the experience of the crowded outdoor public bath facilities in the city of Baños.
MotoQuest treats you well with a fantastic selection of lodging, building a crescendo over the course of the trip. Watching the sunset on the Pacific Ocean on a nice sandy beach you think that this is it, but wait until you see the next hotel by the Upano River in Macas, and then the next on the edge of the Amazon jungle, and the next… It is truly amazing to start the day riding with beautiful sunshine, 35 degrees centigrade and a pleasant ocean breeze, to then climb to +4000m with temperatures dropping to just 5 degrees, and then back again to a tropical climate.”
– Olivier C.
“When I first talked to Phill, I knew exactly that Ecuador is the place to have a great motorcycle tour. We can hit all four weather seasons in one day, and we did. You can ride at sea level, and a few hours later you can pass the Andean mountains range at 4000m above sea level. This means a lot of turns, and 99% well-paved roads.”
– Ernesto D.
“Ecuador is a unique place. Many of us cross the equator, but few of us ride it. It’s a great dollar-denominated country, and they put an impressive amount of their GDP into awesome paved roads.”
– Clay B.
“I loved the trip… especially the cultural experience.”
– Janet H.