Quilatoa Loop

Chugchilan Travel Blog

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The Rough Guide says give the Quilotoa Loop 3 days, the locals in Latacunga say just do the day trip to the Quilotoa Laguna crater and come back on the same day.  We decided to try and do the full loop in 2 days.

To get to Quilotoa, we needed to get a bus from Latacunga to Zumbahua and then get a truck to drive us to the crater.  We hadn´t expected such an amazing bus journey.  On a gorgeous clear morning the route gave us clear views of Cotopaxi, our 1st view of the even bigger Volcan Chimborazo and the ever smoking Volcan Tumguruhua not to mention some stunning local hills with sheer cliff peaks including one that looked like a mini Macchu Pichu.

 On arrival at Zumbahua we bartered a better than book price to jump in the back of a truck to drive to Quilotoa.  Unfortunately, this meant that the 6 indigenous people already in the truck got kicked out in our favour - I guess not the best way to endear yourselves to the locals but it wasn´t our call.

Quilotoa Laguna didnt disappoint with the crater towering 400m above an bright green lake.  The lake itself is self contained with no outlet.  Unlike Cuicocha, the walk allowed you to walk down to the lake which was a nice 40 minute walk.  Chilled out lakeside for 45 minutes with some friendly llamas and mules.  The walk back up was an entirely different prospect and was equivalent to clambering up a 400m sand dune.  I ran ahead and ordered lunch but still not in time to get only bus to overnight stop in Chugchilan.

  Tried to haggle with truck driver for lift but neither parties would budge until a rival truck driver turned up and we got our price.   

Cloud desceds pretty predictably in this area and as we left Quilotoa, we were surrounded by cloud, which is probably a good thing given the speed the truck driver drove around the hairpin bends with steep drops off the side of the road. 

The Cloud Forest Inn could not be challenged on trade description as on arrival we could not see a thing ! However hostel was lovely and had a communal room where everyone could share travel stories and advise on future destinations.  We had finally hit the gringo trail as the hostel was really busy (with Germans equalling the Canadians and Brits).  Its a small world as one traveller (Rachel) had lived on Thompson Road 11 years ago before moving to London !!

On our 2nd day of the loop, we got up for breakfast to a deserted hostel.

  Everyone else had got 3, 4 or 5 am buses to other destinations.  However we opted for the lie in but then the 23km walk to Sigchos. With a 8am start the cloud was still encompassing but it had pretty much burnt off by 9.30 providing great views of the surrounding hills and gorge.  The walk was a nice meandering stroll without much climbing.  However the fun wore off after about 3 hours and the last 2hr 30 mins were a bit of a slog.  Reached Sigchos in time for the bus back to Latacunga.  By evening we were all suffering the muscle strains and Dave and Marie were laughing at my cowboy walking !  With friends like these.....



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photo by: eefab