Although Ecuador is small, as far as South American countries go, we still filled up a full month of exploration and enjoyment in this great country. We camped on the side of massive snow-capped volcanoes, strolled the historic streets of the capital city, played disc golf through a field of horny llamas at over 11,000′, hiked down to touch the frigid turquoise waters of a crater lake at high elevation, soaked our weary bones in scalding hot springs, hiked lush jungle trails, adopted another dog for a week while we boondock camped on the beach and surfed the perfect waves, and climbed impressive granite walls along shelves of agave and orchids while cows grazed around the van.
Colombia is an incredibly beautiful country and our first few weeks in South America were filled with colors. First we took in the lovely streets of old town Cartagena with its many terraces spilling over with bougainvilleas, then we spent a great week climbing at a spectacular sandstone cliff with an unbeatable view. Next we visited the picturesque colonial town of Barichara, where we camped overlooking another amazing canyon and walked the quiet streets. As we made our way towards El Cocuy we drove up and down mountainsides, across stream beds, and through rolling farm lands where spotted cows lazily munched away, and fields of purple potato flowers decorated the landscape.
Most of our time in Panama was dedicated to arranging the dreaded crossing of the Darién Gap, but we did get a chance to enjoy some great places, and even got in some good climbing on a spectacular rock wall.
The state of Oaxaca offered a very welcome change from the heat of the Pacific Coast. We drove narrow, winding mountain roads with breathtaking views, enjoyed the food, coffee, markets, and culture of the city, found a great climbing area, and mingled with rural villagers.