Published: September 16th 2012September 16th 2012
We just spent three nights in Chugchilián to enjoy some great hikes in the beautiful Andes mountain ranges, which are dotted with indigenous villages along the way. Many of the inhabitants of these villages have maintained their ancient heritages making this a perfect spot to do some hiking and get our dose of culture.
We have taken a few days hikes. On day one, we arranged for local transportation out of Chugchilián to the volcano lake, Quilotoa. From there, we hired a 15-year old boy(our Guide) to lead us through the paths in the mountain ranges from the lake’s crater back to our town. I would highly reccomend getting the guide, our maps and directions from various posts, were not that clear and along the way, we could have gotten lost.
Overall, the hike took about 4 hours, and we witnessed some spectacular scenery along the way. The hike, considered moderate, ended up being a little bit more than what we had bargained for due to winds gusting to near hurricane strength. At the beginning of the hike, we walked along the narrow rim of the crater with deep drop offs on both sides of the path.
that portion of the hike, the winds were fierce, kicking up rocks sand and gravel – a few times we had to get down very low and hang on to the terrain (bushes) or whatever we could grab to avoid being knocked down.
Later in the hike, things continued to be somewhat interesting. We almost lost our path due to an on-going landslide dropping sediment from above. We had to cross a very narrow ridge in the middle of the mountain and on that ridge there was a small metal reinforced bridge. That bridge was flattened with the railings hanging, covered in rocks and sand. Our guide told us to cross quickly. (reference the photos). He sent me across first! I stupidly listened to his command rather than sending him across first. But clearly, we all made it and took some pictures of it from the other side. What a sight!
Once the winds settled, the rest of the hike was pure heaven. Never in our lives had we seen such breathtaking beauty. The countryside manifests itself in a patchwork design. The chiseled mountains touch the sky. The crisp mountain air and the sounds of the winds echoing
in the canyons- made for a surreal experience.
Day Two, we took some other paths – and again were blown away by the amazing landscapes.
Our evenings in Chugchilán were peaceful. We hung out at our hostal and made some backpacking friends. In Latin America, a hostal is essentially a BB run by a family. Ours was called Mama Hilda’s – run by the Mama herself , a great place to meet other backpackers. Mama Hilda prepared tasty meals for us in her communal style dining area. The room was kept cozy by a cast iron wood burning fireplace. We enjoyed the meals and compared our hikes with the other guests.
Off to Banos, Ecuador to go soak in some hot springs and hike to some waterfalls next.
There are more photos below