Flying south over a volcano.

Loja Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 26 › view all entries
Hello all,
Today I woke up early for some reason. I grabbed an early breakfast at the hostal, and then headed out. I needed to find out about a flight to either Loja or Machala in the south. The 15 hours bus would certainly be cheaper, but I think the time saved will be better. I was told that there was a TAME office nearby, so I walked there and bought a ticket for the 4:30pm flight. I returned to the hotel for a nap, and then packed everything up in order to be out by Noon.

I hauled my stuff down to a nearby cafe for some lunch, and the also had free wi-fi. I killed about 90 minutes calling a few people on Skype. And I even hooked up the webcam to show Henry the nice cafe and the Quito street. It is amazing that I can just sit there, talking on the phone, through my computer, in Ecuador.

I was still in money saving mode, so I grabbed a bus to the airport. 25 cents and 40 minutes later I was checking in for my flight. While waiting for the plane I met Don from Idaho, and we agreed that when we arrived in Loja we would share a taxi into town. The plane was a two month old Embraer 190. The Brazilian manufacturer's new midsize plane should begin making appearances all over the world before too long.

We were in the air for a short while when the pilot made an annoucement. "Out of the left side of the plane you can see Volcan Tungurahua." I was wondering why, at check-in, the nice woman insisted I should be on the left side when I asked for a window seat. Thank you nameless TAME counter agent! Tungurahua is an active volcano that looms over the tourist hot springs town of Banos. There were clouds all around, but they broke just enough to see Tungaurhua. Also above the clouds there was a huge sheet of brown smoke.

I was very thankful that I had brought my camera in my carry-on, and I was able to get several great shots out the window. I was actually chatting with Henry about the possibility of seeing the volcano on the flight. He's gonna love this one!

After a short time more we descended towards the airport at Catamayo. We seemed to be just about to land when we made a sudden hard bank to the right. We made about a 60 degree rigth turn before correcting and leveling out mere hundreds of feet from the ground. It was an amazing landing, and I felt like giving the pilot a round of applause. After landing, it was easy to see why that manouver was necessary. Near the end of the runway the mountains rose up defiantly, blocking any attempt at a straight shot landing.

After collecting our bags, Don & I hooked up with two Loja locals to share a taxi for the 30km ride to Loja. While riding there I was trying to decide where to stay. Loja is a city of about 170,000 people, and is one of Ecuador's oldest cities. I didn't really feel like staying in a big city, so I homed in on Vilcabamba one hour south. The taxi dropped me off at the bus terminal, and less then 10 minutes later I was on the bus to Vilcabamba.

This was some beatiful Andean scenery, and I wished that I was taking this drive in the daytime. I got off of the bus in tiny Vilcabamba (after trying to get off in the previous city) at about 8pm. This is a mellow, laid-back town of almost 5,000 people set in a tranquil valley. I picked a place to stay in town, grabbed some food, and hit the sack.

Later, Phil
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: Paulovic