Every Sunday many streets in Quito are closed for motor vehicles and only open to bicycles and people on foot. You can cycle from Parque de los Recuerdos in the north to Parque Las Cuadras in the south along the closed roads, a distance of about 30km. The bicycle route goes along Avenida Amazonas, past Parque Carolina, Parque El Ejido and Parque Alameda, through Centro Histórico and below El Panecillo.
The Ciclopaseo started in 2003, but then the cycling only took place once a month. Since 2009 the roads has been open to cyclists every Sunday between 8 – 14. Along the road stalls are set up for information, free water and some mechanical help.
The first Sunday morning I visited Quito in 2012 I saw that there were bikes to rent at Plaza Grande. I wanted to cycle, but also wanted to see the Inti Raymi celebrations that were taking place at Plaza San Fransisco that day. In the end I only had time to rent the bike for an hour before I had to return it, but as I was coming back to Quito other Sundays I thought I could rent a bike for longer next time, but unfortunately I had broken my wrist by then and couldn’t cycle.
The price for renting a bike was $2.50 per hour (June 2012) and to rent it you have to leave a document. I left my passport. I decided to cycle towards the south as I hadn’t seen so much of that part of Quito before. After a little bit more than half time I turned around and cycled back. I had a simple map that I had got from a magazine and to know where I had turned around I took a photo which I showed to the guys when I returned the bike. They told me I had cycled to Avenida Solanda, and they seemed to be quite impressed by that.
Update July 2013: When I passed Plaza Grande in the morning some people were putting up a tent for the Ciclopaseo. I didn’t see any bikes and asked. They told me there was not going to be any bicycles to rent at Plaza Grande that day, but I could rent bicycles in Parque Ejido or in the corner of Ventimilla and Amazonas (La Mariscal). I went to the latter and there they charged $3 per hour (they had said $2.50 at Plaza Grande). I tried a few bicycles and did not really find one that I liked very much. Anyway I set off at 9.15 but after a while I cycled back because it was not possible to get a high gear and I had to pedal too much. All bikes were the same so the man by the tent used some tools to adjust the gears. And off I went again. I cycled north.
This year there were no tents along the way serving water, but only for repairs. At one place I stopped to buy a fruit salad at a stall along the way. The roads closed for the Ciclopaseo didn’t go as far north as I had hoped, so at the end, in the corner of Galo Plaza Lasso and N68 de los Arupos, I turned around.
Before returning I went to the nearby Parque Bicentenario (the old airport) where I cycled, like many other people, on the old runways for the airplanes. Here in Parque Bicentenario there was a stall with free drinking water.
Later, when I came back to the hotel I realised I had forgotten the lock for the bike in my bag. It was 13.40 and I knew they were closing the Ciclopaseo at 14.00, so I had to take a taxi back to La Mariscal to be able to give the lock back in time.
One of the features of the tourist sites on Pichincha is a small herd of horses on which tourists can take rides all the way up to the crater of the mountain. There are several Ecuadorian guides who take tourists on horse back up the narrow track and also around the various lower reaches of the peak, where there are small buildings and churches. You shouldn't expect to be able to gallop around the area, as the horses are always lead around by the guides, but it is a good option to get a nice series of views from the higher portions of the mountain without tiring yourself out too much.
Equipment: Good shoes are probably not terribly important for riding on the horses, but layered clothing, sunscreen and a hat or something to cover your head are all advisable. Oh, and probably also extra comfy pants, since the track is rather bumpy.
Directions: Take La Gasca west until you see the signs to TeleferiQo.
- Horse Riding
Hiking up Pichincha is no small feat. I am a very active young man (I row on a daily basis, do not smoke or drink and eat a very balanced diet) and yet the combination of the cold, the sun, the thin air and the incline meant that I was often drenched in sweat from the hike up and, a couple of times, short on breath. It can take about 3 to 4 hours to go all the way up from the terminus of the TeleferiQo to the edge of the volcano (or as far as they will let you go) and then come back down again, with the trickier of the routes being the way down, as the melting ice and snow make part of the way quite slippery.
Equipment: It’s a good idea to have solid hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty here. You should also have lots of sunscreen, something to cover your head and dress in layers. It may be cold enough to keep the ice and snow in a semi-solid state, but the altitude and the thin ozone means that overheating and sunburns are more than frequent. Oh, and don’t forget your camera, since the views are spectacular!
Directions: Go west along La Gasca until you see the signs for TeleferiQo
- Mountain Climbing
- Hiking and Walking
Club Deportivo El Nacional (usually just called "El Nacional") is a local professional soccer team that plays in the stadium pictured here, Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa, which is located at 2800 meters above sea level. The team is one of the most successful local teams with a total of thirteen championships. The other local teams are Sociedad Deportiva Aucas from the south of the city, and Liga Deportiva Universitaria (known as just "Liga") and the Sociedad Deportivo Quito.
From what I gathered, most people seem to root for either El Nacional or Liga and like in all of Latin America, soccer is the king of sports.
Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa is a multi-use stadium in Quito, Ecuador built in 1951. It is currently used mostly for football matches. It is also used, from time to time, as a field for track events and a venue for musical performances. If Quito gets the Olympics one day, you might see the opening and closing ceremonies (as well as most track events) here. The stadium has a capacity of 40000. The home team, Club Deportivo El Nacional, and Universidad Catolica use the facility for their home games. Right here, Ecuador has won many key victories sometimes against the odds, securing their positions in JWorld Cup competition in 2002 and 2006. During the qualifying for Germany 2006, the home team successfully qualified and remained undefeated here.
Address: Av. 6 de diciembre y Naciones Unidas
If you happen to be in town when the Ecuadorean national selection plays, it is definitley worth going to a game. I went to a World Cup Qualifyin game agains Paraguay and it was awsome! The national team's games are played at the Olympic Stadium (located next to Quicentro on the corner of 6 de deciembre and Naciones Unidas).
The price ranges from $10-20, depending on when you buy the ticket. You can usually buy the ticket outside of the stadium starting a few days before the game (the closer to kick off, the cheaper, however, you may run the risk that they run out). Only buy from the designated people: fake tickets are common.
Get to the stadium early (2-3hr before kick off) if you want good seats as they are not numbered. Bring a boxed lunch and spend these hours learning the Ecudorian fans cheers! The most popular cheer goes like this:
VAMOS ECUADORIANOS, ESTA TARDE/NOCHE, TENEMOS QUE GANAR!"
Equipment: A boxed lunch, a rain poncho, sunscreen, a good mood!
Directions: 6 de deciembre y Naciones Unidas (next to Quicentro)
- Study Abroad
- Work Abroad
Walking down (and up) the streets of Quito the first day after your arrival is sport, believe me, due to the altitude. After a few days you get used to it... more or less...