28.02.2012 - 28.02.2012
It was raining most of the night so we woke up really early hoping that maybe we could catch a nice glimpse of the Quilotoa crater lake and maybe snap a few photos before the clouds move in. We learned from Cotopaxi that the best time to get a good view was usually in the morning. It was cold and dreary but thankfully as we made our way into the crater it wasn’t raining.
The views were pretty impressive as you can see but you may have noticed there are no pictures from the bottom near the lake. We made one large mistake as we started out in the morning, packed ALL our things and took our backpacks down the side of the crater. Note to self, next time you have accommodations until noon, and you are doing a ROUND TRIP 2 hour super difficult trek at 6am, DO NOT take all your stuff with you! Leave your stuff in the hostel! We only made it about half way down before realizing that if we continued there is NO WAY we would make it back out. We turned around and accepted defeat and it was a good thing because soon after we turned back it started to rain. I was so sweaty after this miserable attempt that you can actually see the sweat evaporate from my shirt in this picture.
We waited out the rain at the hostel and then set out for our next destination, Chugchilan. When we started it was still quite foggy but as the day went on the weather improved. It’s a good thing too because unlike the previous day and its paved road this was a real trail and it had some absolutely stunning views. The trail starts out going around the Quilotoa crater and goes about a 3rd of the way before veering off towards a tiny isolated town and then a gorgeous canyon. For the most part it’s not a very difficult trail but it did take us about 5 hours or so to do and you do cross into and out of one very steep canyon. The trail is not all well marked but there are maybe only 2 or 3 spots where the trail splits. Once again the locals are so wonderfully friendly that we never really felt in danger of getting lost and we even had some children going back from school escort us through a part of the trail.
While overall the trail is fairly easy there are a couple of places on the trail that are a bit harrowing. Here are the pictures so you can judge for yourself:
When I say it took us 5 hours to get to Chugchilan I mean the 3 of us mortals. S.A.M got a bit restless with our pace and ran ahead. He had time to go check out every single one of the hostels in town, bargain with each owner, and then make it back to the trail head to welcome us to town. I am convinced he was waiting for us for quite a while!
View of the canyon we descended into and climbed out of from the Chugchilan side
Our hostel in town, S.A.M did an excellent job scouting ahead!