The Quilotoa Loop

Quilotoa Travel Blog

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You've probably heard that half the adventure is in the getting there... well catching a bus bouncing along dirt roads, recklessly skirting along ridiculous cliffs, honking the horn to alert any trucks, buses or cows that might be round the corner was pretty fun. This part of Ecuador is cool. The Quilotoa loop is a group of small towns set amongst the gorgeous hills of the Andes and nearby snow covered volcanos. Whats was kinda cool about the journey around these towns is even though they are relatively close to one another in distance (not time), there is no way you can get around them all in a day or two...cause the buses, which leave at ridiculous times (try 3 and 4 in the morning!), just won´t allow you to.

We decided to be a bit sporty, and donned our stout shoes for what was meant to be a 5 hour hike from the gorgeous Laguna Quilotoa, which is a lake nestled in the crater of a volcano, back to our hostel in Chugchilán.

We caught the bus at 4am to the lake to start the walk, and were met by a local who invited us to his 'hostel' for breakfast. Arlene was mildly concerned about the shotgun that leant up next to the fireplace in the dirt-floor single room shack, that really didn´t resemble much of a hostel......Tris on the other hand embraced the rustic style of the hostel, and checked out the gun when our host wasn´t looking.

The scenery was spectacular, but really we only appreciated it for the first 5 hours of the hike. Weren´t we meant to be finished by now? We had made our way over mountains, through valleys, over landslides and along cliff walls...but the concerning part was that we now seemed to be making our way deeper and DEEPER into the canyon...which meant that we eventually would have to climb the same distance UP.

All we can say is that we made it...Arlene only made it with A LOT of encouragement and a ridiculous number of rest breaks...

Tris is feeling prepped for the Inca Trail, and Arlene is thanking her good intuition that she really doesn´t like hiking that much (especially when she ended up vomitting due to the altitude later that night!!!), and had already decided that 4 days walking to Machu Pichu really doesn´t sound as appealing as a train ride.

We then made our way to the next town, Saquisilli for the weekly market, partly by what has been the coolest mode of transport so far...in the back of a milk truck!

We threw our packs into the back of an old toyota ute, fitted with three barrels to collect milk from the locals. We squashed in with locals and their children who were also hitching a ride, and watched as people ran from their homes trying not to slosh any milk out of their 'bucket', which sometimes resembled fuel, fertiliser or detergent bottles.

..to give to the 'milkman´ for payment. This has been the most fun and entertaining journey so far.

After another bumpy bus we made to Saquisili for a traditional market the next day.  We ended up going to another animal market which had the extra bonus of having llamas for sale.  The market was refreshingly local after the craft market in Otavalo and wandering around was fascinating.  However, not needing brooms, spare nails, pigs heads or "the latest in American fashion" (translates to 80's fashion) all we could do is watch in wonder.   

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Quilotoa
photo by: xander_van_hoof