- Encounters with locals
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
During my trip to Ecuador, I came for a few days to go walking in the countryside around lake Quilotoa. I have some unforgettable memories of it because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking.
If you follow the foot path the walk around the lake takes about four or five hours. It's at an altitude of 3,920 metres and the view is staggering. The cliffs which surround the turquoise waters 400 metres below are precipitously steep. I met some free ranging herds of llamas and peasants going home from the fields. You have to walk slowly and take breaks in order to catch your breath. In only a few minutes the weather suddenly changed and a thick fog came down. I couldn't see three feet in front of me and ended up getting lost. Instead of following the foot path I found myself on a very steep path on the side of the cliff. For a bit, there was no more path and it seemed more like a climb. For a few metres the path was so narrow that I had to glue myself to the rock face. There was just enough room for my feet. Behind me it was a 300 metre sheer drop into glacial water. I continued to follow this narrow trail and eventually my perseverance paid off and I found myself back on the foot path. Which only goes to show how important it is to be very careful on Andean paths.
I recommend walking along the path very early in the morning. The beauty of the scenery will leave you speechless. The sky is as blue as the water in the lake. As the sun comes up it turns the lake turquoise. In the distance you can see Cotopaxi and Chimborazo's 6,310 metre high peak. It's magical.
I had been two weeks at Insilibi, a little village near Quilotoa lake. But although all the tourists who stopped in the refuge where I was working came from there I hadn't yet seen it. This had to change...After a night in Chugchilan I left by bus very early in the morning and arrived at the lake around 5.30 a.m.
First of all I crossed the little village between the road and the crater itself. It wasn't very reassuring: at that time of the day there wasn't even a cat to be seen. It was still dark and it was very cold. The crater is 3 km and very impressive. And it is enormous! Little by little the sun came up and I could see just how beautiful the site is. Other visistors arrived, including three students from Latacunga university who were carrying out a study of tourists. They were very nice. We talked for a little while and then decided to walk around the lake for a bit. It takes 4 to 5 hours to walk all the way round and we didn't have enough time for that, but we could go a little way.
The water changed colour as the sun changed - it was very pretty. Then the temperatures started to climb a little which was good! It was time to leave because I still had to find a car to give me a lift to Chugchilan and then it was a good 4 hours walk to get back to Insilibi.
Without doubt the most beautiful view of all during my trip to Ecuador, the lake in the crater of the Quilotoa volcano is a striking turquoise blue colour, intensified by the the soft green of the steep slopes surrounding it. The colours change with the light and the weather, so you never see quite the same scene, or take the same photo, if you come again another time.
At 3914m, about 12,800ft at its highest point, the light is sublime but it's quite cold. So as not to have to wait for the bus, I hitch-hiked as far as Zumbahua. The locals are very kind and used to helping nervous tourists. That said, a man pretending to be an official tried to make me pay to see the view of the crater, so watch out for tricksters.