Note to self: when deciding to do a trek at almost 4,000 metres, research properly – otherwise you’ll end up taking the harder path…
At least that was our experience when we decided the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador looked like a bit of fun for a few days.
We did our research (I read one blog that described how a couple did it) and went for it without much further thought.
We picked Justin up via a nights stay in Baños where he had been volunteering for the past five or so weeks, then jumped on a bus to Latacunga. Clearly not much of a tourist town, hostels were a little more difficult to come by, and hostels with Internet appeared non existent.
The next morning the plan was to catch a bus to Isinliví. Our little research told us a bus left every day around midday. Easy!
On Thursdays though? No bus…
The back up plan had to come into play – a bus to Saquisilí, another to Sigchos, and then a third to Isinliví.
But the adventure wasn’t so “easy” – there were no busses between Sigchos and Isinliví either!
So we thought we’d be starting our hike a day early, with a 14km walk there (likely to be in the dark given the time).
But luck finally caught up with us and we managed to hitchhike our way there – and what a ride it was!
We spent the night at Hostal Llullu Llama, sitting around the fire with several other travellers and playing cards with a young local boy. This place was amazing – it’s one of the two places to stay, and I’d highly recommend it.
The following morning following a hearty breakfast, we were off, starting at 2,900 metres with an almost 12km hike ahead of us.
The trek began downhill. And then it continued further downhill… Until we got to Guantualo.
Here we were guided by some young school children, who pointed us up a steep (STEEP!) hillside.
Eventually, exhausted, hungry, and covered in dust, we made it to Chugchilán at 3,200 metres.
The next day was set to hike to Quilotoa – about 10km away. We found the helpfulness of South America at a prime today as we passed these two signs on the way out of town, the second (stating a longer distance) shortly after the other…
After the exhaustion of the day before, I was much more prepared for this final section. I had the chef at Hostal Cloud Forest prepare a lunch for me, and I have to say it was the best $3 I have ever spent (so much food!!!).
Like the previous day, this day started with a downhill stretch, as we headed to the river at 2,800 metres, then back up to Rio Sihui, and eventually in to Quilotoa at 3,900 metres.
With my delicious lunch, I found the day much more enjoyable, and while still finding the hike difficult, I didn’t feel the same exhaustion as the previous day!
If you haven’t been checking the maths, we hiked and continually got higher across the two days. Every other traveller we met (there were only a handful of others along the way) was heading in the opposite direction to us – a telling sign. We also found that with each hostel we stayed at, we were farewelled with a ‘good luck’ – they all knew we were about to have a difficult day!!
This hike remains one of my favourites – even nearly two years after I finished it.
Here’s the final view from the end of the hike (probably a good reason to finish here – it’s an excellent finale!
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