Descent to Lago Verde - Quilotoa Crater Lake
Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
34Trip End Aug 26, 2010
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Our plan was to visit Quilotoa which is a crater lake, probably about 3 hours drive away. You can walk right down into the crater to the edge of the lake, and then back out again. Its about a 500m walk straight down, naturally through 3 inches of loose soil, and then back up again. The landscape is again very arid and its at 4000m so there are some pretty interesting things to see at this altitude. The best way to describe it is that it looks like a hillside suffering massive erosion with huge cracks and canyons; and dryland salinity causing nothing to grow. But its just naturally like this.
We went with a local company who picked us up in their beat up old 4WD, much more what I was expecting the transport to be like around here..
Eventually though we were off and into the mountains. We stopped a few times to take pictures, one place in particular looked quite like a small Machu Picchu, called Wainu Picchu - so called because from a certain angle the rock formation looks like a woman's face. By this stage there was a gusting wind, so strong i almost fell over climbing up from a gully where I was retrieving a runaway headscarf - absolutely essential wearing in weather like this :)
An hour or so later and we were at the crater. Again it was spectactular: sharp, craggy sides all around falling downwards at a sharp 45degree angle straight to a green-ish looking lake. It looked exactly what you would expect a volcano crater to look like
At the bottom you also have the option of renting a horse or mule to make the ascent somewhat easier.I was far too weak to walk back up again as I have been sick for about a week now, so I took this option gladly. (NOTE: I'm writing this from the positive perspective that now Iīm almost better and so I think about it as adding an extra dimension to the challenge... all part of 'the journey', blah blah blah... of course I survived and will be stronger for it, I hope :) )
OMG the horse option was friggen scary. I donīt really like horses all that much, probably because I canīt really control them... And the one kept wanting to trot, Iīm like to the horse - 'its a 45minute climb, straight up a hill, you sure you don't want to save your energy for later???'. However I soon worked out its all about position, it was a hierarchy thing - mine was the #2 in line and always had to maintain this position... :) It also had the job of hurrying up the #1 horse who was conserving its energy by stopping every 2 minutes... In order to do this, mine had a habit of going on the outside of #1 to nudge it along and this was often on the edge of the cliff side. I realise the horse is not going to just walk off the edge of the cliff... but there was no saddle, no reins, and not much to hold onto and so you really had to work hard to maintain balance. It was precarious at best. But still, I donīt want to complain too much because I was forever grateful for not having to walk out myself that day so I thanked the horse nonetheless at the top of the mountain...
After a short lunch break at one of the handful of dodgy hostel diners available we were back in the beat up 4WD. A short stop at a locals art gallery in Tigua on the way home - some excellent and unique work here but unfortunately we didnīt have any cash on us... And then a long, long drive down out of the mountains back to Latacunga for the night