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    • Quito, Ecuador | Urban Exploration

      0.1807° S, 78.4678° W Sitting at an elevation of 2,850 meters, or 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the second-highest official capital city in the world (surpassed only by Bolivia’s capital of La Paz, which sits at 3,640 meters or 11,942 feet). It is also the closest capital city to the equator - meaning 12 hours of sun, every.single.day. Those two things definitely increased our interest in visiting the city in the beginning, but Quito is much more than just high altitude and sunny days. The city has a ton of culture, history, outdoor adventures, and interesting things to explore. Fun Fact: Quito and Kraków, Poland, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO, in 1978. People have been living in the area that is now known as Quito since 8000 B.C. One of the best archeological sites showcasing early human settlement was found in the neighborhood of Cotocollao (just northwest of the city). Near the ancient city's rectangular houses, archeologists have found burials with pottery and stone offerings - evidence that the Cotocollao people extracted and exported obsidian to the nearby coastal regions. Eventually (like many areas in that part of South America), the Incans took over in the 15th century and ruled until the Spanish invaded in the 1530s, eventually conquering the town in 1534 after the execution of the Incan leader, Rumiñahui. On March 28th, 1541 Quito was officially declared a city under the rule of Spain. The Spanish established Roman Catholicism in Quito, and by 1535 the San Francisco Convent was constructed - the first of about 20 churches and convents built during the colonial period (many of which you can still see today). Spain ruled the area until 1822, when, after the Battle of Pichincha, Quito and the surrounding areas finally received independence. But the fighting for independence and the decision (and in-fighting) on who would rule the county and city kept occurring until the 1930s (even today there is a pattern of changing of government leaders quite frequently). Another Fun Fact: On February 12th, 1949 a realistic broadcast of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds led to a citywide panic and the deaths of more than twenty people who died in fires set by mobs. We were lucky enough to spend about a week exploring Quito: walking amongst its old city, venturing up to its higher peaks, and perusing its more modern and hip districts. Quito has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler (and the foodie traveler, and the history-buff traveler - you get the idea). With so much to offer, it is safe to say you would probably need at least a month in the city (and still likely not see it all). Below were some of our favorite places to explore and adventure in Quito, as well as some useful information for when you plan your own trip down to Luz de América (Light of America). Top Adventures and Places to Explore in Quito | Virgin de El Panecillo This 45-meter aluminum statue of the Madonna stands proudly above the historic area of Quito. Commissioned in 1976, and made up of seven thousand pieces of aluminum, this iconic piece is the largest aluminum statue in the world. The location it sits on, El Panecillo, is a small hill made up of volcanic soil (like much of the landscape around Quito). Historically, there was once a temple at the top of the hill that aboriginals used to worship the sun at, called Yavirac. Head up to the statue from town (you can walk there from the old city) and spend the afternoon taking in the view from the top. You will get a good idea of the layout and size of Quito, as well as a great vista of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes that create the basin that Quito sits in. | Basílica del Voto Nacional This stunning and majestic Roman Catholic church, the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, is located right in the heart of the historic center of Quito. The idea of building such a massive church, or basilica, arose in 1883 by Father Julio Matovelle, who believed the city needed a monument to serve as a perpetual reminder of the consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart. The government at the time agreed to give 12,000 pesos a year towards the construction - but when that wasn’t enough, they began getting funding from believers who would donate a stone in exchange for engraving their names on them. The government also established a tax on salt to help further fund the construction. It took until 1988 for the church to be inaugurated and opened to the public. Note: the basilica is not actually completely finished though, and some believe that once it is, it will signal the end of the world. The Basilica del Voto Nacional is truly beautiful, and even if you aren’t very religious, you can still see just how amazing the construction and style truly are. Spend an hour or so walking around the outside and interior of the building, and then head up to the roof (and across a wooden planked walkway) to check out the two towers, which both stand 377 feet tall. Full disclaimer: you can take a pretty sketchy narrow metal ladder to the top of the towers, which Luke did happily, but I (Madalyne) didn’t feel very confident about it - plus the view from the small balcony was still absolutely amazing. | Art Museums Quito is absolutely full of culture, and one of the best ways to explore it is through its multitude of museums. Most are located in and around the old city and are definitely within walking distance of each other. So we suggest spending a day meandering around the area and popping into a couple of the museums to get an idea of Quito’s history and rich culture. Pre-Columbian Art Museum House of Praise: this contemporary art museum houses around 5,000 archaeological pieces, from the utilitarian to more ceremonial artifacts. Most are made of ceramic, stone, shell, metal, textile, and wood. Each object brings you closer to understanding the spiritual, social, and political practices of the cultural groups that inhabited the area that today is known as Ecuador. Some of the main exhibits focus on shamans and the spirit world, the everyday life of the people who lived in the area thousands of years ago, and the artistic and symbolic nuances that have survived throughout the years. Museum of the City: located right down the street (on Calle Rocafuerte) is the Museum of the City, a small museum in a historic hospital (built in 1565), that not only examines and explains the various aspects of the city, both modern and historical, but also is a great space for people to come and express themselves in a creative way. If you are looking to learn more about the importance of Quito in the region, the various cultures that lived or live in the area, and how people today are reconnecting with its history, then definitely consider stopping by. Sucre House: established in 1977, this museum - also in the old city - is dedicated to the memory of its most famous occupants - the Venezuelan independence hero, Marshal Antonio José de Sucre, and his wife, Mariana Carcelén. Sucre is regarded as a national hero in many countries of South America; including, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela. He is much loved in Ecuador, and Quito in particular, due to his involvement in the Battle of Pichincha, which helped lead to the expulsion of the Spaniards and the independence of Ecuador (though there is a lot more to his involvement and subsequent death in regards to Ecuador, learn more here). The Sucre House Museum contains the personal belongings of the couple, including the original furniture, everyday items, and even maps and documents from the time of independence. If you want to learn more about Quito and Ecuador’s independence, as well as more about a man who had a huge influence on South American politics, definitely check this small museum out. Other museums to explore include the Contemporary Art Center of Quito (which also happens to be in a historic military hospital), The National Museum of Ecuador, and Banco Central, otherwise known as the Museo Nacional del Banco Central del Ecuador or Museo Numismático. | Explore Various Districts While Quito is known for its stunning historic district (more on that in a bit) it is also a large metropolis with various different areas to explore. Luckily, public transportation within the city is quite good - or if you are like us, spend the day just walking around the area to not only get a better feel for it, but also a nice workout. These three districts are great options for getting a more well-rounded idea of what Quito is all about. La Floresta: the more hipster-bohemian area of Quito, La Floresta is the place to go for good coffee, unique restaurants, including food trucks, and even a farmers market. For a quick pick-me-up, check out Botanica café, located in the heart of La Floresta. La Ronda: this quiet neighborhood is actually tucked up in the historic district of Quito. While it is often quite quiet in the morning, it comes alive with locals in the afternoon. Peruse its artisanal shops, try some local ice cream and learn about making chocolate. Guapulo: located close to the La Floresta district, Guapulo is a lot less touristy than many other areas. Tucked up against the hillside and full of a mix of whitewashed buildings and vibrant colored houses, this is a great spot to meander around and just get a feel for what Quito is like for locals. One great spot to explore is the Guapulo Colonial Church and Convent, a beautiful Catholic Church in the heart of the neighborhood. | Carolina Park Quito has some truly wonderful public parks. One of the neatest is Carolina Park, which sits in the middle of the more modern area of town. It is so big, 165 acres, that you will easily forget that you are in the heart of a massive metropolis. Spend an afternoon walking around its many paths, exploring the botanical gardens, and of course, checking out the now-defunct 1940s Douglas DC-6 Ecuadorian Air Force plane that sits in the middle of the greenspace. Another great park is the Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua, a massive green space on the edge of the city. Check it out if you are looking to go for a run (there is an 8-kilometer or 5-mile loop within the park), see some local flora and fauna (there is supposedly a wild herd of llamas roaming around), and get some incredible views of the city and the nearby mountains - including Cotapaxi (an active volcano). | Teleferico One of the more popular tourist attractions in the city, this aerial tramway was opened in 2005 and today takes visitors up the nearby mountains to the hill known as Cruz Loma, which sits on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. From the top, you not only have great views of the area, but also the opportunity to hike to various other amazing destinations. Including, hiking to the top of mountain peaks, to various viewpoints, and even to an antenna (why not?). Note: the Teleferiqo drops you off at an elevation of about 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet - so make sure to bring plenty of water, warmer clothes, and sturdy shoes. | Equator No trip to Quito, and Ecuador in general, is complete without stopping off at La Mitad del Mundo, otherwise known as the middle of the world. Located 35 kilometers (22 miles) outside of Quito, and easily accessible by bus, this small village sits right on the equator. The first thing you will notice is the 30 meter high stone monument topped by a brass globe that contains a viewing platform and museum. While you can stop and check out the monument, we actually suggest going just past it to the Intiñan Solar Museum, which may actually be closer to the true equator. This museum is the one we explored, and we have to say it was very interesting and memorable. For starters, you get to do a lot more science experiments and interactive activities, including learning about the Coriolis force, the fact that your balance is better right on the equator, and even how guinea pigs can sense whether you are a good person or not (like we said, it was very interesting and memorable). No matter which spot you explore, in the end, you are doing something pretty cool: standing on the equator. Another interesting thing to explore nearby is the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, located just a few miles further northwest from La Mitad del Mundo. This reserve contains the Pululahua volcano, whose caldera (or crater), is believed to be only one of two in the world that is actually inhabited. Even more interesting is that it is the only one that is farmed, and whose agricultural produce is used to sustain not only the population, but also sold for profit. | Historic District Just like you cannot leave Ecuador without visiting the equator (which if you haven’t guessed by now is how the country got its name), you cannot leave Quito without visiting the historic district. The city has the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic center in the Americas, hence why it became one of the first (along with Krakow, Poland) to be recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. Today it is known as one of the “crown jewels” of South American colonial culture. And once you walk along its narrow cobbled streets you will understand why. Some of the best places to take it all in, and really understand why the area is so important (and stunning) is the Plaza Grande, a large square or plaza surrounded by classical architecture, including the Government Palace (Carondelet Palace), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito, and an intricate obelisk that was designed in Italy. Another beautiful plaza is Plaza de San Francisco, which is home to Iglesia San Francisco, an ornate church with beautiful artwork. In the end, if you want to get a feel for the historic district then head out on your own and wander around its numerous historic streets. Spend some time looking at the architecture, stop in at a restaurant or two, and of course, sip on some delicious coffee (Ecuador has a big coffee culture so make sure to seek out some fantastic cafes, including these seven). Quito is a bustling, exciting city full of adventure and culture. If you are looking for a place that mixes the great outdoors with beautiful architecture (not to mention great coffee and food), then Quito should definitely be near the top of your list. We only spent about a week in the city and ever since boarding our flight back to the States we have talked about going back and exploring it even more. | How to Get to Quito We found some pretty cheap flights back home to the USA from Quito (we are talking $200 each). According to Skyscanner, our flight search tool of choice, there are a wide range of flights that depart from the USA regularly. Including, non-stop from Atlanta, New York City, and Houston. You can also reach Quito by bus from various other places, including Lima, Peru; Bogota, Colombia (for only ~$45!), and of course other cities in Ecuador (namely Guayaquil and Banos). So really there is no excuse not to explore this wonderful city in the heart of Ecuador. Learn more about our other Ecuador adventures here. Follow more of our off the beaten path adventures on Pinterest and Instagram (@backroad_packers) xx take more backroads

    • BETA: Oman

      23°35′20″N 58°24′30″E “Oman doesn't boast many 'firsts' or 'biggests' in a region bent on grandstanding. What it does boast, with its rich heritage and embracing society, is a strong sense of identity, a pride in an ancient, frankincense-trading past and confidence in a highly educated future.” - Lonely Planet Oman is not often listed as one of the "top" places to visit in the world. But what it lacks in popular tourism, it makes up for in beautiful natural areas, off the beaten path adventures, strong cultural identity and incredibly diverse landscapes. From turquoise blue waters on the coast, to inhospitable open deserts in the the interior, to the deepest canyon in all of Arabia. Oman surely has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler. Fast Facts Oman is located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia, bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. It is also located in a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. From the late 17th century, the Omani Sultanate was a powerful empire, vying with the Portuguese Empire and the British Empire for influence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. At its peak in the 19th century, Omani influence or control extended across the Strait of Hormuz to modern-day Iran and Pakistan, and as far south as Zanzibar. Historically, Muscat, the capital city, was the principal trading port of the Persian Gulf region. Muscat was also among the most important trading ports of the Indian Ocean. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said was the hereditary leader of the country, which is an absolute monarchy, from 1970 until his death on January 10th 2020. His cousin, Haitham bin Tariq, was named as the country's new ruler following his death. In 2010, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Oman as the most improved nation in the world in terms of development during the preceding 40 years. A significant portion of its economy involves tourism and trading fish, dates, and other agricultural produce. Oman is categorized as a high-income economy and ranks as the 69th most peaceful country in the world according to the Global Peace Index. All facts from here. Fun Facts It was one of the most isolated and traditional countries in the Arab World, until the 1970s when Sultan Qaboos became the ruler. It is also estimated that humans have been living in Oman for at least 106,000 years, making it one of the oldest human-inhabited countries on Earth. The endangered Arabian Oryx is a white antelope with a unique shoulder bump, long straight horns, and a tufted tail. They live in the deserts of the Arab Peninsula, most famously in Oman. The Arabian Oryx or the White Oryx is referred to and called the Maha in Oman. They are the national animal of the country and famous Omani gas stations are named after them. The Sultan Qaboos University was the first university in the country and was established in 1986. It is located in Al Khoud in the Capital Governorate of Muscat. The university is a whole town in itself as it provides accommodation, stores, a library and is open for all Omanis. Omanis didn’t only practice the industry of shipbuilding, but they perfected it. Historically, their ships would sail around the world, and some Omani coastal cities like Sur were globally known as centers of ships and ship repairs. Today Omanis are regarded as some of the best shipbuilders on Earth. Oman has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include Bahla Fort, the Archeological Sites of Bat, Al Khutm, and Al Ayn, the exceptional irrigation systems of Al Aflaj around the country, and the Land of Frankincense (this area represents the place where the ancient frankincense trade took place in Oman). Frankincense has historically, been one of the most precious gifts that used to be given to royals around the world. Today, it is believed that its growth is declining around the world. Oman is one of the few countries where frankincense trees still grow naturally - especially in the southern part of the country. Omanis burn frankincense every day and leave it in every room of their houses. That is why sometimes when you walk down the streets you will smell frankincense. Coffee, called kahwa in Arabic, is the national drink of Oman. And Omani’s don’t just drink a cup in the morning - they make a whole course out of it: it often includes Omani coffee (which is usually Arabian coffee mixed with cardamon), dates, fruits, sweets, and baked goods. Oman has one of the few green turtle reserves in Ras Al Jinz, in the Al Sharqiya region of eastern Oman. Green turtles migrate frequently to Ras Al Jinz beach to lay their eggs. This is very important because green sea turtles are highly endangered. Fun facts from here. Adventures | Explore the country’s highest mountain, Jebel Shams (9,872 feet at the highest point), which has trails that access the mountain peak. Also, explore nearby Al Hoota Cave, which opened to tourists in 2006 and is approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) long. | Or check out “The Grand Canyon of Arabia” aka Wadi Ghul, Oman. The canyon is around 1 km (0.62 mi) deep at some points. This is one of the most famous wadis (a dry riverbed) in the Al Dakhliya Region, as well as one of the best natural attractions in the country. One of the best things to do is the Balcony Walk, a spectacular path on the rocky rim of the canyon that leads to an old abandoned village called Al Sab. The path offers mind-blowing views of the canyon, the surrounding magnificent mountains, and the villages below. Spend a couple of days hiking around the canyon and surrounding mountains, and consider camping out under the stars. The canyon is about 2.5 hours from the capital of Muscat. Note: check out other beautiful wadi’s, some of which have stunning clear, refreshing pools to swim in. | Explore Masirah Island, which lies off the east coast of mainland Oman in the Arabian Sea. It is 95 km (59 mi) long north-south and between 12 and 14 km (7.5 and 8.7 mi) wide, making it the largest island in Oman. To get to the island you have to take a ferry (which runs 6 times a day). Though the area recently opened to tourists, there is already a 4-star hotel and popular kitesurfing camp (it is a great kitesurfing spot due to the monsoon winds, which blow steadily at over 20 knots). It is also a very important spot for loggerhead sea turtles, which land on the island to lay eggs. Spend a couple of days wandering around the island, and expect some fantastic stars and untouched landscapes. | Check out the coastal area and town of Filim, located on the banks of the Arabian Sea. This spot of coastline is sometimes called the “Maldives of Oman” due to its bright blue waters and light, sandy beaches. This area is also a good spot to see wildlife, including sea birds and camels. | Sail around the Musandam Peninsula, a peninsula that forms the northeastern point of the Arabian Peninsula. This area is actually cut-off from the main area of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. This part of the country is quite mountainous, but also has some stellar beaches to explore: much like Filim, the sand is often a lighter shade and the water is bright turquoise. This is a great spot to spend a couple of days sailing quietly through the various channels and to hidden, empty beaches. Snorkeling and dolphin spotting are also popular activities. | Or, simply go for a swim or snorkel closer to the capital of Muscat and have the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays. Just off the capital city’s coastline lie vast coral gardens, which are perfect for sheltering sea horses, hawksbills, leopard sharks. And if snorkeling is calling your adventurous spirit, then head to the Daymaniyat and Sawadi Islands (just north of the capital) to explore crystal-clear, wildlife-rich coves. | Get away from everyone in the Empty Quarter. This area of desert is bigger than Belgium, the Netherlands and France combined. Known as Rub' al Khali – this spot of land certainly lives up to its name: the sun-scorched desert stretches from Yemen and Oman, all the way up into the UAE and Saudi Arabia, covering a whopping 650,000 square kilometers. The best way to see the area is with a guide (this is one hospitable land you do not want to get lost in). Spend a couple of hours roaming around the landscape, or even better, spend a night out in the dunes for some of the best stargazing around. Find more amazing adventures here. More Information: History and culture of Oman: https://www.britannica.com/place/Oman More information on things to do and see in Oman: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/oman First-hand account of traveling in Oman: https://www.wildjunket.com/oman-travel-guide/

    • Surviving Giardia While Overseas

      Being sick while traveling is never fun. From headaches from too many late nights, to upset stomachs from questionable street food, to just a low immune system from always being on the go - travel can sometimes (often) be tough on the body. While we have been pretty lucky when it comes to staying healthy while traveling, there is one instance that really stands out that completely rocked our (healthy) world. It occurred during the last couple of weeks of our South America trip when Luke got so sick that we almost had to rush him to the emergency room. It all started on a beautiful mountain pass high in the Andes of Peru. We were doing a 3-day backpacking loop in a more remote part of the mountains near the town of Huaraz (aka the trekking capital of Peru). It was our second day in and we were feeling pretty good. That morning we had finally crossed the pass that we had been making our way towards the whole day before, and in the process had reached an elevation over 16,000 feet - which is super high, even for two Coloradoans who grew up in the Rockies (and who had conquered their fair share of 14-ers). The pass had been quite intimidating - especially on the side we had to make our way down: deep snow, steep grades, and rainy, windy weather. But we eventually made it to a small pampa (flat part) and started setting up camp for the night. We didn’t realize it, but we were still over 14,000 feet in elevation at camp, and we were also quite dehydrated. Luke started to get quite sick from the altitude, so we decided to bowl a lot of water (a sure way to help altitude sickness). Luckily, there was a stunning waterfall about 100 yards from camp that we could easily get water from. The only thing we really had to deal with were the cows. This is another key thing to know about the situation. While we saw all of five people on our three-day trek, we saw probably a hundred “wild” cows and horses, some of which were grazing at elevations as high as ~15,500 feet. Altogether, this meant there was cow dung… everywhere. We didn’t think much of it until later. As we lay in our tent, listening to the wind and the rain, all we could think about was Mexican food (we had been craving it for weeks). Luke ran out to get some more water from the nearby stream, in hopes of it curing his pounding headache. We boiled it for a good amount of time before dumping it into our bottles. After taking the first sip, Luke poured it all out: it didn’t taste right. And that right there - that one drink - is what caused Luke to almost be rushed to the hospital a couple of weeks later, this time during our stay in Quito, Ecuador. After the backpacking trip outside Huaraz we headed north to Ecuador. After spending a couple of days in Guayaquil, the urban metropolis down south, we headed to the exciting and adventurous town of Banos. We spent another week there, going on lots of fun adventures, before tackling one of the things we were most excited to do in Ecuador: the Quilotoa Loop. By now Luke was starting to not feel 100%. He was weak, he kept having to use the bathroom, and he just felt really bleh. We both thought it was just the long travel days and overall non-nutritious food catching up with us. By the third day of the hike though, we thought it might actually be something worse. After conquering the Quilotoa Loop we finally made it to Quito, the capitol city and one of the highest capitol cities in the world (elevation: 9,350). We found a nice hostel, unpacked and settled in for a week of adventuring and exploring. The only issue - Luke was now full-blown sick and incredibly weak. He couldn’t keep anything down, he could barely walk up a flight of steps and his stomach was just killing him. Overall, he seemed to be fading before our eyes. It got so bad, that we almost rushed to the hospital nearby just so he could get some fluids in him. After playing Dr. Google we came to believe that it was giardia, an infection in your small intestine that is caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. Giardiasis spreads through contact with infected people, by eating contaminated food or by drinking contaminated water. We are pretty sure Luke got it during that hike in Huaraz, during that infamous night near the pass. The most common symptoms, and all the ones Luke unfortunately had, were fatigue, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite (he survived off plain crackers and Pedialyte the whole time), stomach cramps, and weight loss. Due to his lack of appetite, and mixed with the fact that he couldn't keep anything down, by the time Luke finally kicked giardia he had loss between 15-20 pounds. Most of the days we were in Quito, Luke spent it either in bed, in the bathroom or weakly walking behind me or lying in the grass. He could barely walk a hundred yards before having to stop and take a break. It was a very sad, and frankly, frightening sight to see. In the end, we didn’t go to the hospital. With only had a couple days to go before heading back home to the United States, so we thought it would just be easier to figure it all out once back there. Plus, Luke eventually got into the “good” cycle of giardia: because it is a parasite it goes in cycles, so you do have moments when you are infected with it that you don’t feel too bad (the time between when the parasite lays its eggs and when they hatch, or something to that degree). So there were days when Luke wasn’t terribly sick - luckily, our long flight back to the USA was one of those days. In the end, Luke went to the doctor, got confirmation that it was giardia, got on some medication and within a month was cleared as healthy. The only lasting effects were the weight loss (which he quickly gained back in the States) and an overall desire to head back to Quito to actually see it (as a healthy human). Giardia is definitely not something you want to mess with. So make sure to take all the precautions necessary: | boil your water for the right amount of time if getting it from a natural source (we did not boil it long enough for the elevation we were at) | make sure you know where the water is coming from if in an urban environment, and consider only drinking water from reliable sources (water stations are a popular option) | cook all vegetables if you can, and try to eat fruits that require you to peel the outside (or clean them with good water) | finally, and this doesn’t just have to do with giardia, when traveling focus on your overall health: get enough sleep, eat right, move around frequently, etc. When traveling - no matter for how long - it is important to have a strong immune system. So take care of yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. Because there is nothing fun about puking in trashcans or lying in bed instead of exploring a wonderful city or adventuring in the great outdoors. Like what you read? Consider pinning it! Or if you want more off the beaten path adventures, follow us on Instagram at @backroad_packers As always, stay adventurous friends :)

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    • north america | BACKROAD PACKERS

      NORTH AMERICA | USA MEXICO 72 Hours in Pagosa Springs, Colorado | Winter Edition Monterrey, Mexico | Urban Exploration Unexpected Adventures in La Huasteca National Park, Mexico Potrero Chico Adventures Escaping the Cold in Baja California Can’t Miss Winter Destinations in the American Southwest How to Avoid Crowds in Arches National Park Las Vegas is an Adventurers Paradise, No Really! 72 Hours in Fort Collins, Colorado Wait, Colorado has 4 National Parks? Perfect Off-the-Beaten-Path Colorado Towns for a Fall Adventure Is Capitol Reef NP Utah’s Best Kept Secret? 7 Adventurous Wyoming Sites You Definitely want to See Idaho Panhandle, The Prettiest Area You Have (Probably) Never Heard About Poudre Canyon Adventures: Hidden Gems Along the River How to Find the Darkest Skies in the USA 4 Off the Beaten Path Backpacking Routes in California Discovering Florida's Springs Why Monterrey is a Must Visit Exploring Texas Hill Country 7 Ways to Really See Big Sur What We Are Bringing With Us on the Road

    • backroad packers | LET'S GO ADVENTURE

      BACKROAD PACKERS inspiring you to get and have more authentic, sustainable off the beaten path adventures WHAT IT MEANS TO TAKE BACKROADS "Taking backroads is a sure way to a place more deeply. To get personal with its features, history, and people. To find those wonders that won’t appear on a map. experience hidden ​ are the key to discovering places that feel untouched, uncharted." Backroads ​ - - - - - - - ​ Here we hope to you to explore off-the-beaten-path places and around this beautiful world. inspire adventure Welcome to Backroad Packers! recent dispatches from the blog Quito, Ecuador | Urban Exploration Quito is one of the most beautiful and adventurous cities in South America. We were lucky to spend a week there exploring - these were 7 of our favorite adventures and destinations. read more EXPLORE BY DESTINATION NORTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA ASIA NATIONAL PARKS or by adventure | | road trips the great outdoors urban exploration how to be a (more) sustainable traveler backroad motorcycle adventures in thailand truly off the beaten path destinations hidden gems in the stunning state of arizona are you looking for something specific? subscribe to get off the beaten path travel information + inspiration delivered right to your inbox. join the club thank you for joining! “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” — Ibn Battuta we are luke + madalyne, aka backroad packers. we are two explorers always on the hunt for off-the-beaten-path places, authentic destinations, and exciting adventures. we are also storytellers: we love meeting new people and learning about their own adventures. ​ | | more about us our ethos reach out connect with us follow @backroad_packers to stay up to date on our adventures

    • ecuador | BACKROAD PACKERS

      ECUADOR Ecuador is one of those rare, diverse countries that no matter how much you explore - you know there are plenty more adventures to be had. It just keeps calling you back, begging you to see more of its beautiful land. We didn't originally plan on traveling to Ecuador. Our original plan was to spend 3 full months in Peru - exploring the jungle, coast, and mountains. But then we did a bit of research on the neighbor to the north and realized Ecuador had the same things - plus, a couple of magical hiking trails, off the beaten path destinations, and what was sure to be some amazing adventures. So we bought a bus ticket and headed north. We never regretted our decision once. ​ While we only got to spend about two weeks in the country, we tried to fit in as much adventure as possible. The only problem: Luke was terribly sick with what we later found out was giardia (not fun). But he is a real trooper so even though he completely felt like he was dying we still were able to go backpacking, visit the equator, walk around beautiful Quito, explore Banos and take a trip around the very modern city of Guayaquil. travel stories + guides trekking the quilotoa loop banos | urban exploration surviving giardia while traveling quito | urban exploration

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