The excitingly good roads of Ecuador end at Riobamba and the drive to Cuenca through the Andes will continue on ‘regular’ two lane road. It’s asphalt, but there are potholes and a bit more attention needed. The landscape makes up for it though, the view is great, you’ll have a full view of how much deforestation Ecuador has done in the past. A lot. I planned to stop by Alausi, but the rain was full-on with a high of 14C, quite different from my previous visit with blue skies and highs around upper twenties. The rain was on and off basically all day and sometimes the visibility quite reduced. We rolled in to Cuenca at about 4 PM and drove directly to our overnighting spot, the same Hosteria Campana Caballo, where the camping is basically a gravel parking lot by the stables and access to hot showers and internet at the hostel.
As we visited Cuenca previously next day we just rolled on, picked up some basics from Supermaxi and drove towards Vilcabamba. This is another full day trip through the Andes with a rollercoaster again between 1,800 and 3,500 m altitudes, just like the previous day. The rain was on and off again and the excitement of the road filled with falling rocks up to a square yard size and some landslides here and there kept sleepiness completely out of question. The landscape is very nice, probably the nicest we’ve seen in Ecuador and the rainy season turned all mountains in green. We rolled into Vilcabamba late afternoon and did a quick drive through the small village, with an ‘oh, this is …it?’, then we went to our next ‘camping’, another parking lot of a hostel with just about the same setup, available showers and wifi. With the $5.00 per person nightly fee, I’ll just classify it as an expensive shower, similar cost as a Flying J, except that you can stay at FJ for free if you don’t use the showers. I’m pretty sure I will cry back later this luxury on several occasions, but let me be a bit sarcastic at the moment. The parking lot at Hizhcayluma fits about 3-4 overlander vehicles, there is a water spout and possibility to plug-in for electricity, for wifi you need to walk a bit uphill to the first hostel building. If you want to go fancy rooms are available starting at $25/room.