This beautiful and out-of-the-way route links Quito to the western lowlands and coast. The town of Los Bancos provides access to bird-watching in the Milpe Sanctuary. Heading west, the landscape changes quickly, from cool cloud forest to hotter, lush lowlands as the road drops and flattens near Puerto Quito. Soon after, you’ll hit the main road between Santo Domingo de los Colorados and the north-coast port of Esmeraldas.
You might stop in Pedro Vicente Maldonado if only to sample its local gastronomic speciality; guatita, cow's stomach cooked in peanut sauce; worth a try for those with cast-iron intestines. Not much goes on in Puerto Quito, either, but you may find it a relaxing place to see birds and waterfalls, and swim in lazy rivers.