Probably one of the most unusual countries to go off-road. We climb a volcano with a team of ancient Suzuki Vitaras and some very odd confectionary. Ecuador is a very special place indeed
Words and photography: Robb Pritchard
There are a few off-roading meccas in the world; Russia, Morocco and the Australian Outback come to mind, and Johnson Valley of course… but after this amazing weekend, Ecuador should be added to the list.
My trip involved joining up with the guys from Ecuador’s Terreno Extremo magazine, and the day started with guinea pigs for breakfast, roasting on a street side barbecue, followed by a bad headache as we hit 3800m above sea-level… At this point, I was told that cocaine leaves help alleviate the symptoms. Cocaine? Surely that’s all very dangerous not to mention illegal? No need to worry, it comes in candy form from a kiosk at the entrance to the National Park. It’s a great introduction to off-roading in Ecuador. And all before a cup of coffee!
I am with Pablo Contreras, the Editor of Terreno Extremo. For a few years I’ve been sending him stories from all over the world and now I am in Ecuador, they want to return the favour and give me a taste of Ecuadorian off-roading. If anyone reading this is familiar with my reports in this magazine, you’ll know that I tend to gravitate towards the extreme motorsport events, the most recent being a co-driver in the Ultra4 class in this year’s King of the Hammers in Utah (4×4 Magazine, April issue). So to find myself in a totally standard 2004 Toyota Hilux with barely legal rear tyres was quite a new and unusual experience. And what makes it all the more interesting is that we are about to drive up the world’s biggest active volcano…
We’re not going alone though. There are two Suzuki Vitaras with us. Strangely they have Chevy badges on the grille and Terreno Extremo Art Editor Andres Jaramillo explains that it’s because the ‘89 model was built in Ecuador under licence until just a couple of years ago, which means that Vitaras are Ecuador’s most common 4×4. For somewhere that eats guinea pigs for breakfast and have cocaine candies, I guess it’s not that odd.
To read the full report see the July 2014 issue of 4×4 Magazine. Buy it here