Martin Moschek from Hamburg (Germany) travels the world with nothing but his bike. His passion for cycling he discovered pretty early, already in the 4th grade were he and his bike inseparable. In the GDR, he trained cycling in the Leipzig intensive training centre and shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he started his first trips on the weekends through the surrounding countryside of Leipzig. After the reunification in 1989, nothing could stop him and as he didn’t had his driver’s license then, he decided to explore the world by bike. Meanwhile, he traveled 46 countries and covered more than 57 000 km, first together with his schoolmate Stephan and since 2000 on his own, self sufficient with a tent and nor is any end in sight “Cycling offers two advantages for me: first it has the right speed to get to know the people and countryside and secondly it is a sporting challenge. The combination of both just makes it irresistible “
In March 2014 was invited by Gulliver Expeditions and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism to visit the beautiful Ecuador. Actually he didn’t plan to visit Ecuador in particular, just to pass through it within a trip through South America. But now he emphasizes, that regarding Ecuador just as a transit country would be nearly negligently and it is definitely a visit worth. After having done some research on Ecuador his expectations have been completely fulfilled if not even surpassed. The high mountains, rare air, the thick jungle and the pulsating life of Quito, all this left a lasting impression on him. The most impressed him the splendid play of colors of the Ecuadorian nature, how the omnipresent lush green forms a fantastic contrast to the red and yellow of the varied flora and fauna and the blue and white of the snow capped mountains and lagoons.
His first day in Ecuador spent Martin in the rainforest of Mindo. Significant higher temperatures, raging rivers that cleave their way through the thick vegetation and wisps of fog which are burn out by the warm rays of sunshine. Still being a little worn out by the long flight, they reached a little garden of orchids, butterflies and hummingbirds. “This unbelievable colorfulness, this is how I always imagined being a rainforest like. “ From there on, they moved on downhill by bike, deeper in the rainforest and then up again to the “Middle of Earth”, the Equator line. There he visited the Intiñan museum and participated in the several experiments that prove the fact of being exactly at latitude of 0°0’0’’.
The next days they followed the call of the mountains and made their way up into the Ecuadorian Andes. First on the itinerary was the 4794 m high Guagua Pichincha volcano or “young Pichincha”, followed by the ascent of the Rumiñahui in the Cotopaxi National Park. For climbing the over 70 volcanoes you need a good guide, which Martin found in Eran, the founder and owner of Gulliver Expeditions and a experienced mountaineer and mountain biker. In slow steps they climbed to the top of the mountains. The high altitude is noticeable to feel and it gets more difficult to breathe. Nevertheless, Martin easily gets used to the altitude and the small breathes in between. “I know this high altitude from the Himalaya, when I cycled to the Mt. Everest and even without having prepared myself for Ecuador, this wasn’t such a big physical burden for me and I am happy that my body easy gets along with it”. A dense fog spreads on the last meters to the summit of Guagua Pichincha, the wind gets stronger and the loose volcano rocks made the ground slippery. The strong smell of sulfur on the top indicates that they are really on a volcano.
During the ascent of the Rumiñahui, Martin has to get along with bad weather conditions. A suddenly upcoming thunderstorm, followed by a 20 minutes hailstorm covers the landscape in ice and snow. When finally reaching the top, they already had to go down again because lightnings were striking in the ground nearby. Later the sun came out and the magnificent view of the Cotopaxi and the valley compensated the exertions of the last hours.
In a rapid pace occurs the descent from the Guagua Pichincha by bike. On the winding road you reach a high speed and the breaks were always in use, so that Martins hands were hurting and they had to stop a few times. During the downhill biking they passed through different weather conditions, suddenly raising dense fog was replaced by bright sunshine accompanied by spectacular panorama views.
“Cycling in the Andes is pretty strenuous and you quickly run up against you limitations, but it is also a great fun to call upon all your resources. “ Ecuador as a biking destination, he would in particular recommend for mountain bike fans because besides of the fun in the mountains, relaxation by the sea and trekking in the rainforest complete your journey.
The hardest biking challenge in Ecuador was the Quilotoa tour for Martin. It started at an altitude of 3,149 m and from there on they went downhill on risky singletrails. Over and over again, the trek disappears due to floodings and they had to carry their bike several meters uphill while a heavy hailstorm rose up. Later they left the path and took a route through little villages and pictures gorges. “It is fun to jump over the gullies but you have to take care that you do not land in another one”
In retrospect the whole tour with Gulliver and in particular the accompaniment of Eran was a unique experience for Martin. In a very short time period he has seen and experience so much and intensively that he still likes to remember: “The downhill tour, where suddenly the path disappeared, the ascent to the volcano crater in a dense fog, the speedy downhill after that my hands were hurting, the lovely evenings in the Hosteria PapaGayo and the impressive nature that permanently shows you how much there is to discover.”
Martin definitely will return to Ecuador one day. He could imagine going on a cross country tour from the Amazonas Basin, over the Andes, through the rainforest to the coast and the Galapagos Islands and of course all by bike. And for sure climbing the Cotopaxi will then not be missed out. But these plans still have to wait because he already made up is next trip. During Easter 2015 he will travel to the Caucasus, through Georgia and Armenia. You can follow his tip on his blog biketour-global.de