After a restless sleep where the kids stewed about spiders crawling into their respective mouths, ears, noses, and etc, we packed up all our gear, piled into Joaquin’s Prado to head North to Cuenca. Enroute, we made a stop at one of Ecuador’s oldest national parks, Podocarpus. The allure of watching our altimeter climb and being right on the edge of the rainforest pulled us in.

Our drive involved a slow, steady and steep incline where we peaked out at 2,700M or 9,110 ft (the image below was taken during our drive to Cuenca where we topped out at 11,111 ft). The views were unsurpassed and the drop-offs were thrilling… I was kind of pooping in my pants. Every 10 meters Alvi wanted to stop and take photos. We reached the refugio after about 8 km along this knife-edge and then got out to walk the trail for a bit. It is best described by the photos we took: lush, green, dark, dank, mossy, tropical. So very pretty, that’s for sure!


Our altitude as we climbed higher and higher. Note: it was NOT +29 degrees. It was more like 11 degrees and super damp.


One of the many pitstops Alvi wanted to make. So high up in the clouds right here.


The road we travelled up way down there below.


Not quite at the refugio yet but stopping for family photo.


Alvi had stopped to catch a glimpse of the Prado in all the lush jungle.


Heading out for a little hike with Joaquin in the heart of the rainforest. It was cold but beautiful given the altitude.


This path went on for hours, we just walked for 20 minutes given the time it would take to get to Cuenca.


Just noticed Joaquin’s bunny ears. LOL!


Taken with my iPhone, a pouty Saffy who was disinterested in this hike. Ayayayayayay.


Once I resumed piggy-backing her again, she was fine. I guess she was wearing her keens and her feet were soaked. OOPS.


Adios Parque Nacional!

And now as I type this we are back in the car for the 3 hour ride to Cuenca. It’s a challenge trying to keep ones wits about oneself given all the twists and turns and ups and downs of the road. I might be reaching for a gravol shortly! OMG just now a MASSIVE boulder came down the cliff in front of our car and we had no choice but to drive over it!!!! Scary as hell!!!! We are now pulled over looking at the damage. WTF!!!!!!


Ok back in the car. Shockingly, no damage. The boulder was the size of a microwave and by some twist of fate it did not land on our windshield. We were so incredibly lucky!! I should have taken photos of all this drama but was concerned more with our vehicle and Alvi + Joaquin being run over by oncoming cars given the tiny width of the highway.


Her majesty catching up on beauty sleep.


Stopped back in Loja for lunch.


Incredible vistas as we drove towards Cuenca.

The drive went by quickly and both Alvi and I marvelled at the changes in vegetation. Over 10,000ft we swore it looked like Northern Ontario… pine trees galore. It was surreal. Finally, we arrived in the majestic and almost-European looking Cuenca. It is a city of nearly 1M people with the most stunning old town, four rivers running through it. Cobblestone streets, quaint little shops, massively impressive marble churches and other infrastructure. Cannot wait to fully explore in the daylight! In the meantime, here are some of our captures from last night.


Cool van travelling from Argentina!!! I want this!


Streets emptied out…


Gorgeous buildings!


A street Tienda 🙂


Stopping for helados (ice cream)


Best ice cream ever!


Taking in the architecture.


A lot of money in this city. The marble came from Italy.


Took some time to enjoy these crazy breakdancers! Saffy wanted to join them.


This guy was amaze balls!



And so we collapsed into our beds at the hostel… $16/person including breakfast, with Saffy half price. One epic fail was choosing a hostel directly beside a karaoke bar. What were we thinking? Joaquin said it was like “cats dying a painful death.” At 1:30 am they were still going strong; Alvi and I weren’t sure if we should join them or drug ourselves. I was silently going over the lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” just in case.