The Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador

Day 1:

Today was the day we started the Quilotoa loop – basically a 3 day hike around different parts of Ecuador – but more importantly it was Vicky’s birthday!! Being the great friends that we are, Annabel and I surprised her with birthday tea in bed and breakfast cake!

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We also attached balloons to her hiking bag for her to carry around for the day – which she loved.. obviously. Our first part of the trip was catching a bus to Sigchos, and along the way we picked up some friends from the hostel, Jo, Lisa and Simmy – Jo who coincidentally teaches at the same school I went to – small world!

We arrived in Sigchos and set off on our hike to Islivini, the next village in the loop. We were basically hiking down one side of the valley and up the other.

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And we saw some cute donkeys along the way.

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Luckily the route was well marked so there was no chance of us getting lost – we were following the llamas!

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It started off a nice downhill walk, through the valley, and then got to the steep bit on the other side. But we managed to enjoy some nice views from the top.

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When it got to the last little bit of our walk for the day, the heavens began to open and it started to rain… but luckily we managed to make it to the hostel before getting drenched!

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And it was easily the nicest hostel I’ve stayed in on the entire trip. There was free tea and coffee all day, a fire place, and 3 course dinner and breakfast all included! We all really loved it. After we all dried off and enjoyed a cup of tea or two, the weather cleared up, so we headed out for a shorter hike in the afternoon.

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Our group for the loop!

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We headed back to the hostel for dinner, of soup, quiche and cake for pudding! It was so good especially after a long day of walking!

 

Day 2:

We started day 2 with a great breakfast from the Llullu Llama hostel, before heading out for our hike to the next village. We had also added one more person to our group, so there was now 7 of us. Today we were heading for the village Chugchilan, and it was supposed to be a lot flatter walking than the day before.

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On our way we saw our first llama of the trip! (at least I think it’s a llama…)

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Today we were walking a lot down in the valley, so we got some really nice views of the surrounding hills and mountains – but it also meant it was really hot!

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Luckily we had all packed shorts – despite seeing on the internet beforehand that it would be really cold and we should wrap up….

As well as llamas, we also saw some wild horses along our way.

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It was so nice walking down the centre of the valley and enjoying all the wildlife and scenery. But then we got to the steep bit. We were all prepared, as in the previous hostel they had a profile of the days walk, but my god was it steep.

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As you can see above, we were now quite away above the centre of the valley. So we all decided to stop for a well earned rest and some snacks – as well as getting a team photo.

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After our break, the rest of the way was relatively flat, and not too far to Chugchilan!

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We had been recommended to stay in the Cloud Forest hostel for the night.

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It was a nice hostel… but not quite as nice as Llullu Llama! But most importantly it still came with a three course dinner – so we were still happy.

 

Day 3:

Our final day of the Quilotoa loop, and it was set to be the hardest day of the 3, with mostly climbing up to the ridge of the Quilotoa crater. However, this is arguably the main attraction of the whole loop, so we were saving the best until last!


After another great breakfast, this time from Cloud Forest hostel, we set off, all keeping our fingers crossed that the weather would stay nice.

After about an hour of walking we stopped for a short break in what seemed like a local farm… Guinea pig anyone?? (Cuyes)


For those who don’t know, guinea pig is a bit of a speciality dish out here… not sure I will be trying that one!

From our break spot we could also see the ridge of the crater.


Not that far right?!

The problem was the entire day was uphill, and after 3 days of hiking my legs were definitely feeling the burn. But, we slowly made our way up, stopping to take in the sights and take some pictures of course!



And yes Annabel and Vicky are wearing matching shorts. So coordinated!

The final bit was long and steady up hill… and we made it!


And I’m sad to say it was SO CLOUDY! I had to be really quick with my camera to try and get a good shot as the clouds slightly cleared.

It was also freezing up there, so we quickly had to throw on all our layers!

The whole crew at the top! (Notice how we increased in numbers everyday!!)

And of course we had to get a picture of the three of us at the top!

The final part was to make our way around the crater to the local village to catch the bus back to Latacunga. As we set off it started to pour with rain, so we hastily made our way to the nearest cafe, before catching the bus back to the hostel.

 

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