Friday, June 20th, 2003 – Day 122

Friday, June 20th, 2003 – Day 122

I was up at 6.05 am to get to Zumbahua. I wanted to visit its famous market tomorrow, Saturday. There is a frequent bus service from Latacunga to Zumbahua. Most buses leave from Av. 5 de Junio in Latacunga. I walked to the main bus station on the same road and was there by 6.35am. The next bus, I was told would not leave until 7.00am. The journey took two and a half hours and the cost was US$2. Some markets and when they are on are listed below.

Sunday

Santo

Domigo de los Colorados, Pujili, Cuenca, Otavalo and Park

El Ejido (Quito)

Monday

Ambato

Tuesday

Latacunga and Otavalo

Wednesday

Pujili and Otavalo

Thursday

Saquisili, Otavalo, Cuenca and Riobamba

Saturday

Otavalo, Latacunga, and Park El Ejido (Quito)

I intended to stay at Pension Zumbahua.Located at the top of the plaza. There are only three places in town, so not a lot of choice. Most have dorm space only. I arrived around 9.20am and started walking down the unpaved road to the town plaza. It is a tiny village with maybe 100 inhabitants. As I approached the plaza, a white 4X4 jeep pulled up and people inside waved at me. I recognized them as a travel agent and his wife from Holland whom I had met on the Riobamba tourist train. They were in town for the day and had hired a guide and jeep. They offered me a lift to Quilotoa lagoon. I had not booked into any hostel yet, but the offer was too good to refuse. Buses there are very infrequent (.30 US) and I could hire a car (15 US), walk 4 hours up there (its approximately 14 km to the north of Zumbahua) or get a collective bus from the Plaza that costs 5 US.

I took them up on their offer and off we went. The volcanic crater of Quilotoa has a serene mysterious looking green lake inside. The volcano’s bowels 400 m down head towards a deep ascending cut in the rim of the volcano right of the car park, 30 minutes descent and one hour ascent or rent a mule for just US $3.00.

The water itself is stagnant due to no in or outflows and consists of an alkaline consistency as well as sulfurous and is certainly not for drinking so do take your own drinking water.

As I was there by 9.30am and knew there was little to do in the village I decided to walk around the total circumference of the rim. I was told to allow 4-5 hours and be careful in some areas as the conditions can be slippery and dangerous.

I went counter clockwise and the first hour was fine with good views of the crater and lake. After that it was hard as you climb on the rim. Some of the paths were only a foot across with drops on both sides. In most cases the ground was sandy and the rock was chalk like breaking away if you needed support. I nearly turned back three times within the first 1/3 of the journey but found safer paths. I didn’t meet any other hikers on the paths, just a few animals and farmers working their field. The second 1/3 was fine and I was making progress. The last 1/ 3 was very difficult. I am still unsure as to whether I took a wrong turn but the only path available to me was one half way down the rim towards the lake. I walked about an hour until I cam to a full stop. There was a gorge in front on me and it was too steep to go down. I sat down for a few minutes to decide what to do next. It was nearly four hours back. I felt a bit scared up there in the middle of nowhere, with the only choice being to climb towards and over the gorge back to the path. It was difficult and would not like to repeat the experience. It took me another hour to get back to my start point (five and a half hours in total). Even though it was only 3.00pm, I felt a lifetime had passed. There was a little local restaurant up there and I went for a beer (600ml bottle for 1.25 US). There were a few locals inside, and I most have looked a state. Shaken but relieved look on my face. I was also filthy dirty from climbing with hands and feet. There were no tourists to be seen and I didn’t know how I would get back to town, 14km away. Luckily, a bus pulled up and for .30US got back to town. I didn’t want to do anything, so I booked into my hostel for four dollars (in a 4 bed dorm) and stayed on the plaza until 6.00pm eating pancakes (street food)a and watching all the local men play Volleyball on the plaza. I never saw so many hungry dogs in one town. The local restaurant will not look great. The meat was the usual left overs (feet, head, offal etc.) and was been cut by a dirty hachet. I went into the local shop to buy water. There were about 30 kids and teenagers watching I believe one of the view TV an d Video combos in town. They were watching “Mad Max“. I found a spot and watched it with them to there amusement. There was nothing else to do. I went back to the hostel and went to bed around 9.00pm. Early but I was physically and mentally exhausted after the mornings hike. There were no other tourists booked in, and I had the dorm to myself.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quilota – Ecuador – volcanic crater of Quilotoa. (20-06-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quilota – Ecuador – volcanic crater of Quilotoa. (20-06-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quilota – Ecuador – volcanic crater of Quilotoa. (20-06-2003)