Colombia/Ecuador bordering crossing at Rumichacha (3-5km downhill from Ipiales). Busy, but not too bad. No fees to exit Colombia or enter Ecuador (90days)
Tulcan to El Angel/Mira. Turn right off main road 5km after Tulcan at Las Juntas (Modernist Church and statue of dwarf brandishing gun). Ask for “El Angel via Paramo”. Road quickly to packed dirt and passes farms and a small village before Paramo begins. Steady up with plenty of surface water to buildings of Reserva Ecologica El Angel when Paramo finishes and 40+km of downhill begins. Coarse cobbles to start with until El Angel (shops), then paved. Downhill steepens from Mira (shops) until the Panamericana (about 15km) Do-able in a day
Panamericana x 6km until Salinas turn-off. Is possible to stay off Panamericana from there to Otavalo (Salinas-Tumbabiro-Urcuqui-Imantag-Cotacachi-Otavolo), or go on the highway via Ibarra.
Otavolo to Tabacundo via Laguna Mojanda. Ask for Laguna Mojanda in town, but it is signposted off the panamericana southwest of town. 17km cobbled climb (reasonably hard work). 3km anti-clockwise round lake (ignore 1st R in favour of a L turn back down towards the lake shore). 3km back up to pass by Cerro Negro from junction with dead-end road to in progress lake-side lodge. 10km downhill (rocky/loose dirt) to Tabacundo. Ignore a road to right at a turning area with an ‘island’ shortly after pass. In reverse direction – head to Tabacundo parque central and ask for Cerro Negro road (signposted).
Tabacundo-Cayambe-Santa Rosa-El Quinche-Yaruqui (not Zaruqui as on most of the maps)-Pifo-Tumbaco.
There is a bike track which starts in El Quinche and for at least part of its route follows an old railway. It’s not easy to find the start without good instructions. Ask Santiago at the Tumbaco Casa de Ciclista for details. (the path is latterly called El Chaquinan)
Tumbaco to Lasso (ish).
Use “Via Intervalles” to go from Tumbaco to San Rafael, then Sangolquí. Follow signs for Rumipamba, and ask for Selve Alegra to take small road into north of PN Cotopaxi. Paved to La Libertad, then 15km of cobbles until dirt into PN. 2 USD entry fee. Followed road through park and out southern entrance, plus some zen etc to get to the highway.
Paved almost all the way to Sigchos (signed to Sigchos off highway) via Toacazo. Fantastically contoured dirt from Sigchos to Chugchilán with occasional climbs (24km). Contoured climbing from Chugchilán to Lago Quilotoa (22km), then paved flat/down to Zumbahua (13km). 25km from Zumbahua to top of long descent to Pujilí (total 50+km), only marred by lots of heavy road-building traffic.
Ambato to Riobamba via Volcán Chimborazo.
Ignore “paso lateral” when approaching Ambato from north. Turn R. (anti-clockwise) along inner ringroad at roundabout with large naked woman. Pass Botanic Garden and Social Service Hospital, following signs for Guaranda until an un-signed T-junction. Turn L. (uphill), then 1st R. after traffic lights (c. 200m) onto “old Guaranda road” (visible on L wall of gorge when looking ahead at T-junction). Follow for 46km until junction with main Ambato-Guaranda highway. Turn R., then 6.5km until L. turn onto road past volcán refugios towards Riobamba (all signed, and paved). Refugios at 11km, and t. 41km until junction with Panamericana (via San Juan, despite there being no connection on maps).
Riobamba to Loja
Riobamba – San Luis – Punin – Cebadas – Lagunas de Atillo – Gral Proaño – Macas – Sucúa – Bella Union – Limón – San Juan Bosco – Tucumbatza – Gualaquiza – Yantzaza – Zamora – Loja.
Despite what the ITMB and other maps say, the main road to Macas from Riobamba does go directly from San Luis to Punin, and continues onwards via Cebadas etc. Apart from the 30km before Proaño and San Juan Bosco+8km to Gualaquiza -12km the whole route is now paved. The latter segment was being paved as we rode through.
Loja to border:
Loja – Vilcabamba – Yangana (end pavement) – Valladolid – Zumba – (27km) – border.
food in all places mentioned, plus a few in between. Terrain generally slowish with marked ups/downs, especially after Zumba. Border relaxed, no fee to leave Ecuador or enter Perú. 183 day Perú Tourist cards gained without fuss. Money changing in shop on Ecuadorian side and Immigration office on Peruvian side. Shops in town 5km after border.