Quilotoa Loop, Part 2: Ecuador Hiking from Isinlivi to Chugchilan

Quilotoa Loop, Part 2: Ecuador Hiking from Isinlivi to Chugchilan

After a wonderfully healthy and filling breakfast at Hostal Llullu Llama, we headed out for our second day on the Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador hiking.  We had some directions from the hostel, which we had been making fun of the night before (with a guy who had just done the hike in reverse).  There were many lines such as “take a left at the fork after passing several earth walls” or “when you see a small farm in front of you…”  After starting out and making several wrong turns, we eventually found the “earth walls” and from there it was pretty straightforward.  Oh, except for the “log bridge” that we thought was this one:

Quilotoa Loop, Part 2: Ecuador Hiking from Isinlivi to Chugchilan

The directions clearly stated that we were to cross a “log bridge on our right.”  Even the night before we were told that it was more like “a tree that has been fallen in the proper place.”  However, after crossing this tree and following the path for about 20 more minutes, we stumbled upon a second log bridge, one that was much wider, seeming a little more like a bridge and a little less like a downed tree.  Oh well, our way was more fun.  You try doing this with thousands of dollars of electronics on your back! Ecuador hiking sure is an adventure!

Quilotoa Loop, Part 2: Ecuador Hiking from Isinlivi to Chugchilan

The hike was easy and beautiful until the end when the trail took a hard upward slant.  By hard I mean it was super steep and we were tired and just wanted to get there.  Add that to the high altitude and goofy directions and we were about to be in bad moods.  Luckily, soon enough we made it to the top and had a chat with a friendly local.  He confirmed that we were going the right direction and that we only had one more hour to go.  The trail turned into a road and soon we were fighting for space with the local motorcycles driven by small children (seriously…all the 12-year-olds seemed to be driving them…scary).  We passed a school and bought some popsicles (every school has several weirdos in front of it selling candy and ice cream to the kiddies).  Whenever we need a little boost, not much is better than frozen treats!  Before we knew it we were walking up the driveway of our next hostel in Chugchilan, just under the minimum time that we were told the hike would take.  14km in five hours, not bad!  We spent the rest of the afternoon resting because, man, that equatorial sun is killer!

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Quilotoa Loop – Ecuador Part 1: Latacunga to Isinlivi

The Quilotoa Loop is an amazing dirt-road route stretching from Latacunga to Laguna Quilotoa and then back.  It’s full of tiny villages, breathtaking views, and authentic markets.  Traversing the loop involved a few buses and lots of hiking!

We stayed one night in Latacunga at the beginning of the loop, and also left our big bags there so we wouldn’t be saddled with them while hiking.  The most remarkable thing about Latacunga is that it has been destroyed no less than THREE times by Volcán Cotopaxi.  We found this interesting because Latacunga is a lot farther away from Cotopaxi than Baños is from Volcán Tungurahua.  And the people of Baños say it can’t be destroyed, ha!

The first day of the Quilotoa Loop we took a bus 20 minutes to the Thursday market in Saquisili.  Lots of fun stuff in the market there!

Quilotoa Loop
Hand-crafted rope
Quilotoa Loop
Local women selling produce.
Quilotoa Loop
The best snack in Ecuador: mini corn pancakes filled with cheese and onion!
Quilotoa Loop
Hats!
Quilotoa Loop
Huge bundles of bananas. We had to take a picture to compare height.
Quilotoa Loop
The best way to end a morning at the market…the ice cream truck!

After the market we caught a bus three more hours (plus one more for a flat tire) to Isinlivi, where we stayed at the amazing Hostal Llullu Llama and made great friends with the only two other people there!  A wonderful start to the Quilotoa Loop!

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