The Quilotoa loop

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
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Trip End Dec 24, 2008


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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, November 24, 2006

Out of the remote amazon jungle and back to towns and cities we needed a new place to explore; we picked up the lonely planet and quickly thumbed the pages, as the pages flicked by Kat said stop and we opened the book to discover our next destination. It was the Quilotoa loop. An 8 hour circular road set in the backwater highlands of Ecuador. It is one of the most remote places in Ecuador, which after the jungle, and hey we're used to remote places now, it felt right to pay it a visit. The quilotoa loop features about ten villages along the way. Its famous for its endless views and steep mountainsides cultivated into crop fields.


Our bus took off from a town called Latacunga. We were on a 4 hour journey headed for Chugchilan, elevation 3200 meters, population 6356. The bus journey was definitely one of the best so far. The handful of gringos on the bus were the main attraction to a large percentage of the farming community passengers, who stared at us like we were aliens. The very old couple opposite us were fascinated by Dan. In-between sleeping and sucking oranges in their toothless mouths they just looked and smiled at Dan for the whole journey, have a nap, suck an orange, stare at Dan, have a nap...you get the idea. Passengers poured on and off during the journey, old ladies would get on and slowly walk up the isle with school kids climbing over the old ladies to get the seats. This was all accompanied by the obligatory very loud South American soundtrack, a sort of childrens fairground vibe crossed with circus big top energy, panpipes and dodgy 80s electronic drums. The music was comical and so were the scenes on the bus, it was great.

we got to our hostal, its called cloud forest and you can see why from this picture.
The next day we explored the village and hiked down into a valley to see a suspension bridge.
Some local kids asked if we could take their picture. I took their picture and then they wanted to take a dollar from us for the photo. I showed them the picture and then they wanted to take the camera instead! Eventually I showed them a pack of playing cards and they agreed to take the cards. Nice kids.

A 6am bus the next morning took us an hour down the road to the main attraction, the Laguna Quilatoa, a volcano with a green alkaline lake in the centre. We hiked a third of the way around the crater rim and our heads were spinning with altitude sickness, walking at 3853m gave everything a sort of dreamy appearance. We set off down the volcano side and hiked the remaining 6 miles back to the hostal.

Along the way local children would greet us with Hola and as we turned our backs they would throw vegetation at us shouting Chao. Rabid and very territorial dogs would come flying round corners snapping and snarling at our feet. I carried a large rock in my hand which was enough to deter most dogs. After about five miles we reached a point where a landslide had wiped out a bridge and the path. A new path had recently been carved out, however this new path was 100 meters long, about 10cm wide, built on dry crumbling soil, had a death inducing drop down one side and nothing to hold onto. Time to say your prayers, hold your breath and just look dead ahead.

Back to the hostal, had lunch with some backpackers from Bristol and then it was time for bed. Early start the next morning, a 3am bus dictated a 2:30 rise, not nice. We were off to visit a town called Banos, famous for volcano watching, chucking toffee at tourists and cycling.

Cooper Out

Love Dan & Kat
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