Railway to Cuenca (El Tambo to Cuenca)

The old railway
After the inca trail we went onto the old railway (Sibambe to Cuenca) in El Tambo. It was a very diverse trail from dirt roads and single track to mud and even some swampy sections (all mostly well graded). About 10k before Biblian we merged onto another dirt road for 6k to avoid a very muddy section which we would’ve had to walk. Then we were back on the panamerican highway. As it was just after noon we decided to stay on it to make it to Cuenca that day.

Route info: view/download GPX track here


The remains of the railwail that hasn’t been used since the 60s.


River crossing since the bridge is falling apart.

Lots of very slippery mud, neither our shoes nor our bikes’ tires had much traction.

Dirt slides close to covering the entrance to a tunnel.

Very muddy steep little uphill, Dan and bike slipped!

Beware: shipping to Ecuador
Dan ordered a tent and a sleeping bag down to Cuenca. Now he can go off by himself into very high altitudes where I would face hypothermia, and I can do some volunteering here and there. The tent (shipped with fedex) finally arrived after a whole lot of drama. Basically, they didn’t want to let it pass the border as it was a fabric, and to import such you need to be a citizen and have an import number. After lots of phone calls they finally made an exception but Dan still faced $200 import fees as the item valued more than $400. Similar fees for the sleeping bag (shipped through national couriers), no complications there but a very long waiting time. All in all we waited two weeks in Alausi, cycled to Cuenca, were able to collect the tent, and had to wait another week for the sleeping bag. At least our bodies got a good rest to prep us for Peru!


Cuenca is a nice city with a somewhat European flair, lots of foodie places, markets, museums, and I saw some pretty neat works of art outside the centre. There are lots of bike shops so Dan was finally able to fix his bike problems and there’s a quite well equipped outdoors shop in the mall (Dan found some mudclaws to replace his worn down shoes) (for more choice check out tatoo in Quito, they delivered my new osprey hydration system within 24 hours to our hotel in Cuenca).

Thanks to Sonia and her family for accommodating us on our first night in Cuenca (the first time a fire station turned us down!). We were lucky that we found the probably best value hostel in town, hotel Check Inn (thanks to Aimee and Rattan for the recommendation), $8 per person per night for a private room (any other hostel only offers dorms at that rate), to stay in for the following days. Also thanks to Mark for helping me out on my last night in town.

Only about two more weeks to go now until we reach Peru!

Excursion to Cajas National Park near Cuenca. Beautiful up there, but it’s the paramo so expect cold, fog and rain. 


My bike made Mark feel like a kid!


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