Driving through dense fog is a stressful challenge. Breaking through that fog and getting above it can make for a relaxing drive, especially in the Andes mountains. These mountains are gorgeous.
Taking the Andes road less traveled
The route Scott and I take from the coastal city of Guayaquil to the Andes mountain city of Cuenca is generally less foggy with fewer cars than the shorter and more popular route through El Cajas National Park.
Our drive goes from sea level to 3400 meters before we descend into Cuenca, which is at about 2500 meters. Fog has occasionally made our five hour drive take seven or more hours.
Neither of us is a big risk taker when it comes to roads. We only drive during the daytime. We leave Guayaquil by Noon so we are likely to finish the drive before 6:30 sunset. If our business takes us past Noon, we stay an additional night.
On a recent drive, the fog played with us. We began as usual, in the sunshine of Guayaquil. As we approached the mountains, a low cloud cover settled in above the banana, sugar cane and mango fields.
|Banana field under the low cloud cover|
The thick fog started earlier than usual – just as we began to climb the mountains, shortly after La Troncal. It portended a long day in the car. We have done this drive many times. If there is fog, it typically hangs around until the road curves to the east side of the mountains at Biblián.
Ecuador road hazards
It is not uncommon in Ecuador for cars to pass slow moving vehicles on blind curves. Not all of them use their headlights. We always watch for cars in our lane going the wrong way.
There is a risk a fresh landslide might be around the next bend. Most people who live along the road do not have cars so they walk on the shoulder of the road. Dogs, chickens, cows, sheep, horses and pigs all live along the the road. Some are tied up, some are not. It is stressful driving despite being lightly traveled by autos.
Rising above the fog
Not that far into our climb, we entered bright sunshine. What a shock! We were above the fog! We were not even to Suscal yet, where the fog sometimes begins. The blue sky was such a refreshing sight to see.
|Above the thick fog|
Picture perfect Andes
The rest of our drive was in perfect conditions. No landslides were in the way, people and animals stayed on the shoulder of the road and no one came close to hitting us while passing on a blind curve.
The mountains are beautiful with fluffy clouds floating above them.
Homes are sprinkled here and there along the way, as are reminders of recent landslides.
Farming is popular along this route. Planting and harvesting of crops is done by hand, often on steep slopes. Click on the photo below to increase the size and you can see the fields in the center. Fences are often made with freshly cut branches that grow roots and become trees, which make the field dividing lines living fences.
Small communities and towns each have their own stunning backdrops.
We made it to Cuenca in five hours and were relaxed when we arrived. The fog at the beginning of the mountains was a distant memory.
Do you take longer routes to avoid hazardous roads?
Click here to read more about Cuenca, Ecuador.