Ecuador // The northern sierra //

The old road to Colombia

Some 33km north of Ibarra, the Panamericana forks at the village of Mascarilla, a black community with an impressive sideline in clay masks and figurines; there’s a checkpoint here (have your passport ready). To the left is the old road to Colombia via Mira, which is paved as far as El Ángel, but for the final 48km to Tulcán is in poor shape and rarely used; to the right, the busy Panamericana ascends the sun-baked Chota valley before turning to Bolívar, La Paz and San Gabriel on its way up to Tulcán and the Colombian border.

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