From Quito, we got what seemed like an eternal taxi back to Quitumbe Bus Terminal and all we wanted was to sit down and eat some food. However, when we bought our bus tickets to Latagunga, the lady told us we had 6 minutes to run to the bus (with our huge rucksacks on). We frantically wobbled towards the bus and managed to fling our bags on.
We then risked buying snacks from the nearby stall (more plantain crisps and Bon Yurt yogurts). While I scrambled to pay, I heard that Surrey accent which I love so much shouting ‘Hey, Wait!’ I turned around to see Tiff jump onto the bus as it pulled away from the terminal. They were not planning on waiting for me and my snacks!
Luckily I’m a nimble athlete – Tiff got them to slow the bus – and I managed to jump on and we both sunk into our seats exhausted and laughing. Things didn’t slow down there, what was meant to be 2 hour journey was extra fast and before we’d even realised where we were we’d arrived at the reception of our next hostel being offered shots called Canelazos to warm us up! (These magic little shots had cinnamon, Lulo fruit juice, vanilla essence, and a homemade spirit made from Sugar cane).
For dinner we ate at the hostel and ordered a typical Ecuador dish…sopa de locro, described as a soup with avocado and cheese in it. I was sceptical but it was delicious. The hostel was called Sendero de Volcanes and it provided us with the best night sleep of the trip, such comfy beds! An ideal place to base yourself if you want to do lots of outdoor treks in Ecuador’s Andean range.
The following day we had organised a day tour for $25 each. Us, our driver Enrique, and his run down pick up truck were set for a day of adventure.
Cotopaxi is the most famous in Ecuador, and amongst the highest in world at 5911m. We also saw Tungurahua (which sits above the city of Baños), Iliniza (twin peaks), and Chimborazo (Ecuador’s highest active volcano).
The car ride was amazing, every so often you’d see rogue donkeys and alpacas on the hillsides and everybody was dressed in their traditional clothing. Enrique was great and told us loads of facts about the landscape and how people work the land, and about all the produce they have.
When we finally arrived at Lake Quilotoa it was breathtaking!
We arrived nice and early so it was lovely and quiet as we started our descent. At the lake we hired a kayak for $3 and paddled out to enjoy the sunshine and scenery. It was a great way to spend a Friday!
There were donkeys and horses at the bottom, which you could pay $10 to get back up. We walked back up, because we’re legends…slash poor. Five minutes into the hike up I was struggling and already a fair bit behind Tiff. Not only was it a steep climb on sandy terrain but the altitude meant breathing was impossible. Our lungs were on fire and you could literally hear our hearts beat out our chests.
The silver lining was that it’s meant to take 1-1.5hr to climb back up….we did it in 50mins! 🙌🏼 2 EZ.
Lunch (included in the tour) with Enrique was so tasty, and conversation only got awkward when I went to the loo and left Tiff and Enrique with a language barrier…”como estas?”
As we left we saw our first guinea pig roasting…quite a sight! Too much for Tiff, brought back memories of her pets Rosie and Jim.
Drove back freeee wheeling downhill and on the uphill the gears churned and the car really sstruggle. We stopped at Pujilí, a 100% indigenous community, which had a beautiful little square with small buildings. We blethered to two local ladies on the corner as we ate ice cream.
Evening of admin, playing pool (Tiff won every time although I did improve) and a constant supply of free Candelazo shots from a wee teapot.