Our Quito stay had come to an end and we began our driving tour of Ecuador with a 340-kilometre drive to Coca. It did not get off to a great start as my US$99 Garmin GPS map of South America decided not to work. Firstly the GPS was unable to calculate the route as according to Garmin there are no roads to Coca. When I keyed in Baeza, a town closer to Quito, my car was not on the planned route and the GPS kept saying “recalculating” continuously. There were no good road maps in the service stations and the road signs were almost non-existant.
The weather was good to begin with until we headed east up into foggy and misty conditions and as we were at about 10,000ft it was cold. We reached Baeza where we headed north alongside Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve, where clear streams and waterfalls abounded.
Driving was a lot slower than Google Maps had indicated, by their calculation the 340-kilometre journey would take 4:40hrs. We drove on until we reached Nueva Loja where we took the ferry across Rio Agua Rico, which the locals told us would save us an hours driving, as per the Google map. It was a bit tricky backing the car off the ferry when it docked on the other side. However that accomplished we headed south to Coca. The roads were generally in good condition and not crowded. However as the terrain in parts is very hilly with many twists and turns getting stuck behind slow moving traffic was a pain. Petrol is US$0.32 a litre and we got free coffee at a petrol station at El Chaco when we stopped for directions not petrol. So after 8 hours we arrived in Coca, grabbed a quick dinner, took a photo of the new bridge spanning Rio Napo and had an early night before our Amazonia Adventure the following day.