Quilotoa loop – hiking, horseriding and more

The Quilotoa loop is a popular hiking route in the Ecuatorian Andes mountains south of Quito. The hiking starts out in the sleepy little village of Quilotoa which is located in 3800 meters altitude and mostly known for its beautiful laguna, which is a lake created in a crater of an old volcano. The total loop is divided into 3 sections by small towns along the way and it ends in the town Latacunga where it all starts as well with taking the bus up into the mountains to Quilotoa.

As mentioned in a another post, I went along with Nathalie whom I met in Baños. It didn´t take her a lot of convincing me to make me come along on this small adventure, and now we were on our way to Latacunga with bus to leave my surfboards and some of our luggage not necessary for the hike at hostel there, and from  there we would take a bus up into the heights of Quilotoa before nightfall.

Getting of the bus in Quilotoa we immediately got approached by a young girl who asked if we needed accommodation for the night. We accepted her offer and got lodged in one of their two very basic (and later on quite cold) “appartments” whereafter we just got to see the sunset over the mountains. The family cooked us a very rich and good dinner and after a bit of talking story there was nothing left to do but hit the sack. Even though the fireplace had been lit, it got very cold during the night, luckily though my sleeping bag  kept me warm, but Nathalie had to jump from her bed into mine with her blankets and in addition take mine to stay warm. Next morning we got early up, had breakfast and said goodbye to our host family to get an early start on the around 12 km of hiking that day which would take us to another small village called Chugchilán. There it would be possible to stay the night in a comfortable hostel. The first hour of hiking would take us 1/3 of the way around the craters rim, from where we would start decending down to a small village marking the  halfway mark on the hike.

The weather was on our side and the hike would take us through beautiful green landscapes and stunning views of the mountains. In the small village on the halfway point we had a almuerzo (lunch menu) and watched for a while a girls soccer game. All the girls played wearing skirts, none of them were any good, but they were all having fun and many people from the village were watching this event. Continuing on the hike we would walk down into a canyon on narrow trails and when reaching the bottom of the canyon we had one final ascend up the village of Chugchilán which was the destination of the day. On the ascend we took a break to enjoy the surroundings before getting back to civilisation more or less of the small village. In Chugchilán we decided to stay at the Cloud forest hostal were we found hot showers, ping pong table, lighted stoves and internet. The rest of the day went with checking out Chugchilán, which didn´t take long and we found a local mens volleyball match which got quite heated at times. Later at the hostel a girl called Beckah whom we had met in Latacunga showed up at our hostel and she joined us for the next couple of days.

For the next day we decided to go horseback riding to the nearby village called Isinlivi, which would have a animal market that day. Early in the morning we set of on the horses after breakfast with overcast skies promising rain later. The steeds were ready and looking good though mine was definetely old faithful.  We were a group of 5 and soon after departure the horses were warm and eager to gallop. Old faithful knew the way and wanted to lead even though he wasn´t the strongest anymore, this caused a power battle which would be played out the most of the day between Old faithful and one of the other horses leading to a bit of friendly pushing and biting. Halfway to Isinlivi we had to cross a river, but on this day the water was too high and we had to turn around and instead we went up to the local cheese factory to taste the cheese. It had started raining and we were all soaked, so after 4 hours of riding we were satisfied with heading back to the hostel and the warm showers waiting.

The next day, with a sore bum for the previous days riding we decided to head back to Latacunga and we were lucky to get a ride in the back of a pickup truck all the way along with many locals heading to Sigchos or Latacunga – a good exploration of the loop was over.


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