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Published: April 28th 2018
Latacunga is a base for hiking the Quilotoa Loop, so the following day we left our big backpacks at Hostel del Sendero and boarded a bus to the tiny village of Isinlivi. The hike is not actually a loop but instead a series of trails and dusty roads near the Quilotoa volcano crater. We opted for the two day hike from Isinlivi to Chugchilan to Quilotoa as it had the most interesting scenery and passed through some tiny villages. The hike (24 total kms and a total ascent of 1600 m) was also a head and fitness check for the upcoming Inca Trail.
In Isinlivi we stayed at the posh Llullu Llamas hostal, complete with a spa and amazing 3 course dinner. We now understand why it's everyone's favourite hostal in South America. They have really helpful info about the trail and since hiking is really the only thing to do, there are always people to share info with. We set out for Chugchilan with Jake from New York passing by farmers in their fields through the Toachi Valley. The difficult part is saved for the last hour of the hike, where the trail climbs out of the valley, but
the view was worth it. From Chughchilan to Quilotoa the trail again descends into the valley and then quickly ascends continually until reaching the crater rim. We had perfect weather both days, until we reached the top of the crater. The swirling clouds and constant threat of rain is common at the summit, and we went from sweating in t-shirts right below the rim to needing sweatshirts, raincoats and hats at the rim. The final hour of the hike follows the crater rim up and down to Quilotoa town where amazing views into the crater alternated with rain. Along the way we met elderly women unfazed by the rain, carrying large bags of produce and wearing very thin sandals or ‘high’ heeled shoes on the rough trail. Their perseverance is amazing. We however were very thankful to check into our hostal and have a warm fire minutes before it started raining heavily. Quilotoa sits at 3900m and was by far the coldest place we had been yet. The rain eventually cleared, affording views of distant Cotopaxi volcano.
Becky thought we were done hiking until we realised there is a trail down into the crater with a perfect
(except for the temperature!) greenish blue swimming lake. With nothing else to do the next morning, we set off into the crater and met Steve and Shonalee from our Galapagos cruise going back up. This was a surprise since they intended to be in the Amazon in NE Ecuador but had changed plans. Admittedly the view from the top is better than inside the crater and the water is too cold (~10-12C) for enjoyable swimming, but it was still a good hike and worthwhile training for Peru. Back in town, we had a well earned lunch with Steve and Shonalee before leaving.
Tot: 2.612s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 12; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0465s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb