Quilotoa Crater Rim Hike.I finished my long 15 day trip with Xavi and Cristian from Spain through the Ecuadorian Andes. In the last couple of days with them I met Heloise and Mathilde from France in Cotopaxi. It was great to hang out with them at the refuge so they invited me to join them on their hike from Chugchilan to the crater of Laguna Quilotoa two days later.
I got a phone call from them while I was in Quito. I was hanging out with Diego (Ecuadorian guide) and it was a bit late when I decided to go and join them. We took a bus to Latacunga main bus station (2 hours south of Quito). Once I got there I found out there weren't more buses leaving to Chugchilan. It was already 5 pm so I decided to take a bus the closest possible to the town of Chugchilan. The next bus leaving was a small old bus to the town of Toacaso. From Toacaso I switched to a pick up truck and rode in it for 3 hours on a bad condition's road.
Finally I got to Chugchilan at 11:00 pm and found the hostel where Heloise and Mathilde were staying at. Heloise came out and gave me a big hug. We were so happy of seeing each other again. We spent the night talking and planing a few trips for the days to come.
Chugchilan – Quilotoa.
Next day, we woke up early in the morning and started hiking south. We hiked down the canyon until we got to Rio Sihui. We crossed a couple of footbridges and continued hiking up passing a few small villages along the way. It was hard to keep our pace due to the dogs which tried to take a piece of us every time they approached to us. The three of us stayed the closest we can to each other in order to avoid being bitten by one of the dogs.
Soon we were far enough of the villages and we didn't encountered more dogs on our way. Kept hiking up, passed the village of Guayama, where we were followed with numerous children going back home from school. It was great to spent time with them while hiking. We spoke to them in Kichwa, played and jocked on our way.
Soon the three of us were alone again. We got to the highest point on the road and we saw the town of Quilotoa (3,854 m/12,641 ft) far in the distance. We rushed ourselves up trying to avoid an approaching storm. It took us 5 hours to get there.
Once in Quilotoa we found a nice small basic hotel run by local indigenous people. We spent the cold night there drying out our clothing at the fire place and chatting with the local people and visitors.
Quilotoa Crater Rim Hike
Heloise, Mathilde and I hiked 400m down to the lake. It took us ans hour to get there. We hung out at the lake shores for a while then we hiked to the crater rim up again in order to hike the whole crater rim. Views of the surroundings, Illiniza Sur and the lake were incredible, but it just last for a few minutes cause clouds rolled in indicating a storm was approaching.
Heloise and I rushed up and hiked the crater rim. We did it in a fast way trying to avoid the approaching thunderstorm which was coming from the south. It hit us when we were half way of the hike, but we kept hiking. Got to our starting point after 3 hours of hiking. We got back to the hotel and dried our clothes out once again. The three of us spent another night more in Quilotoa. We got a ride next day early in the morning on the back of a pick up truck to the town of Zumbagua where we stayed for a couple of hours at the local indigenous/animal market and then we headed south to the town of Banos.