Conquering Quito’s Bus system and the start of High Altitude training

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February 11th 2020
Published: February 11th 2020
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Our first 2 days in Ecuador were spent at a great hostel in Quito (Hostel Revolution) getting used to the altitude and finding the central market for supplies and lunch. We decided not to have the potatoes and leather or the leather and booklet!

We learned that the bus system of Quito takes a bit of getting used to….we were warned to keep each other and our other valuables closely guarded which seemed ok until we finally, after a couple of false starts due to nerves, managed to barge our way onto the bus which was soooo crowded that you had to literally throw yourself off the approach ramp which are built into the bus stops and onto the bus before the doors shut. At one point I (Jan) was on the bus but the doors started to close and Pete was still on the ramp OH NO thank you very much that is not going to happen, so Pete in his very best gallant way hauled me off the bus into his arms (so romantic) but the momentum was too much for us and we in turn fell into the arms of a tiny Ecuadorian lady. The domino effect was quite spectacular but not altogether likely to strengthen Ecuadorian-English relations. As the next bus approached, we found ourselves alone on the approach ramp (not sure why) and managed a joint launch onto the bus. Sadly after 10 minutes or so, smoke started coming out of the floor and the bus came to a halt. As we all leapt from the bus onto the highway we did temporarily forget to keep our valuables clutched to our chests but got away with it.

It was all a bit busy in Quito so we caught the bus to much calmer Otavalo, 2 hours north and towards the northern highlands to begin our High Altitude training. We are hoping to attempt the Quilatoa Loop (maybe it should be called the Killer Toe-er Loop) next week so we need to get used to the altitude. Quito is at 2800m which made us a bit breathless but our hostel in Otavalo is in the hills towards Lagunas de Mojandas at a height of around 3000m and our walk yesterday took us to a saddle of 4000m. But today, WE CLIMBED FUYA FUYA , which is an extinct volcano and is 4263m. We were sooooo slow, but we got there! At one point I was trying to calculate how long it was going to take us….we were having to stop and rest every 25 steps. If the slope was 45% that would have been an altitude gain of about 8m for every rest. And of course we couldn’t agree on the slope. I thought it was at least 70 degrees, Pete thought it was 40 degrees. Excuse me but who is likely to be better at estimating a slope? Anyway the calculations became too difficult once we couldn't breathe so we abandoned and just got on with it. The final approach was made on hands and knees (me) up a sheer rock face that Pete described as “scrambling”. How ridiculous it was definitely not scrambling, free climbing more likely.

So we are moving on tomorrow to Latacunga where we will start the Quilota Loop. It'll take us 5 days, walking from village to village but thankfully we catch a bus to the first and last villages. See you on the other side!


11th February 2020

Well done!
It all sounds great - agree that the slope is at least vertical!
11th February 2020

Thank goodness...
...there's someone else who is sensible out there! Hope you had a fab hols. Is it too early to sow those cucumbers?
11th February 2020

No leather and booklet? How disappointing
So where’s your sense of adventure then? Not even rice and leather? Now none of us will ever know. I bet you were really boring and went for potatoes avocado egg cheese. You really need to get out more and live a bit dangerously. Ah. You are. X
11th February 2020

Well done Old Lowes, I can see Jan has her lifejacket on in the blog photo - are you expecting to be overboard? Perhaps it helped cushion the little Ecuadorian lady who you squashed on the ramp! Great scramble up at 13,000 feet or so. There’s a geomorphological equation for the limit of slope angle before it fails but I think I would have to defer to Chief Engineer Lowe! keep it coming! N&K x
16th February 2020

LOVE it Jan. You write so beautifully and I have been spluttering with laughter into my tea (delightful image). xx

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