The Quilotoa Loop – part 2

31 Dec

Day 3: La Laguna and Chugchilan

Thank God the sun was shining and there were few clouds in the sky when we woke up on Thursday morning at El Quilotoa. At 7.30am we met Ramiro, his sister in law Veronica, and their three horses which we had hired for our visit to the crater lake ($8.00 per horse). Actually Ramiro and Veronica showed up with a mule and two donkeys, which I thought was as good as three horses. But feeling that he had been ripped off, Alex had the shits and told me that I should argue for a discount. I didn’t. The lake was stunning in this perfect weather and Alex overcame his initial disappointment in our means of transport.

La laguna: at times like this I wish I had a more expensive camera with a wide lens...

The hike down into the crater to the shore of the laguna and back up again wasn’t as difficult as we had anticipated, so we didn’t really need the horses (or donkeys). However as we were planning to spend the afternoon walking at least part of the way to Chugchilan, we decided to conserve our energy and take advantage of the easy ride.

It was about 10.00am when we got back to our hostel in El Quilotoa. We didn’t want to wait for the bus that runs from El Quilotoa to Chugchilan at 2.00pm every day, so we started walking along the main road in the direction of Chugchilan. Soon after leaving the Pueblo we ran into a guide traveling with two German tourists on horseback coming from Chugchilan. The guide told us that walking along the road would take several hours longer than the four hour trek through the valley to Chugchilan, which could be seen on the horizon. We decided to stick to the road as we had no guide or reliable directions for the valley path, and we also wanted to have the option of hitch-hiking or jumping on the 2.00pm bus if the weather turned bad or we became too tired. This proved to be a good decision as after about 2 hours of walking heavy clouds and a thick fog set in. We flagged down a passing truck and climbed into the back with the 6 or so agricultural workers who were on their way to Chugchilan. We arrived in town at about 2.30pm.

There are three big hostels in Chugchilan. First we looked at wasMama Hilda’s where we had lunch. This place seemed very cosy and charged $16.00 per person per night for a room with shared bathroom, dinner and breakfast. The Cloud Forrest next door charged only $10.00 a night for the same deal, and they had a fireplace in the room while Mama Hilda’s did not, so we decided to stay here.

The Black Sheep Inn is also in Chugchilan. We had a look at this very professional North-American owned operation, but decided that it was not worth the $33.00 per person per night for a dorm room. Private rooms with board are priced at $70 per person. Ouch! So why does it cost so much extra to stay here? In addition to being gringo-owned the Black Sheep Inn is eco-friendly with composting toilets and recycled water, and it also boasts a natural sauna and free yoga classes. I suppose it would be a good option if you are in Ecuador for a short visit and have money to spend.

We were happy that we chose to stay at the Cloud Forrest as quite a few travelers joined us by dinner time. We dined that night with a German couple, a South African couple, and a couple from the USA, and a Swiss German and French girl both traveling solo. Dinner was simple but filling.

Day 4: The return to Latacunga

Over dinner we had made plans to walk to Isinvili and spend a night there before walking to Sigchos the following day from where we would take a bus to Latacunga. However bad weather prompted a change of plans. We didn’t have proper rain equipment or a desire to trudge in wet clothes through the mud for 6 hours, so at about 9.30am we negotiated a ride in the back of a soft-drink delivery truck straight to Sigchos.

The door into the cola truck

Riding in the cola truck

We had lunch in Sigchos with a young Ecuadorian couple from Ambato who want to open a hostel somewhere on the Quilotoa Loop. At 1.30pm we caught the bus back to Latacunga, which took about 2 hours.

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One Response to “The Quilotoa Loop – part 2”

  1. Antonia De Hodgetta esq January 1, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    The photo of the lake with the reflection of the mountains is unbelievable

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