A Disastrous Trip to Quilotoa – Day 86

Sat 28th Apr

A ringing phone wakes me around 5ish and with my alarm set for 30 mins later, it’s not worth trying to get back to sleep so I get up and get ready to meet Julian and Reyanne at Santo Domingo station at 0615.

Today the 3 of us are heading to volcanic crater lake of Quilotoa. We’ve decided to venture there ourselves by public transport rather than pay the 50$ tour price.

From Santo Domingo we catch a bus to Quitumbe for only 25c. Bus C4 is direct but we had to catch the C1 and change.

From Quitumbe we catch another bus to Latacunga which costs us 2.25$

The driver has told every person on this bus, who are local people, when their stop is coming up. 3 foreigners on the bus and he neglects to do this for our stop! About a 1km down the road he realises we are still on, slaps his forehead and tells us to get off and catch another bus back in the other direction to get to the station we just left! This we do, drive 2-3km back and finally at the right place buy another ticket for another bus to Quilotoa for 2$.

We ask several times what time the next bus is and are told 10am. We take a seat in the waiting area to sit out 45 mins until our next bus. We head out at quarter to only to find our bus gas gone! Wtf…

I speak to the ticket agent to find out what’s happened and we’re not sure why we were told 10 because the time written on the ticket is 0935. Julian had the ticket and not knowing Spanish didn’t know hora de salida was depart!

Oh well, another 50 mins to kill in the waiting area until the next one and another 2$. At least there is WiFi! We make sure we check the ticket and are outside in time for this one!

With time to kill and WiFi, we google the length of time needed to do the hike. Someone in Julian’s hostel told him 3 hours but everything on google says between 4-6 hours. With this additional wait and another 2 hour journey on top, I’m doubtful we’ll be able to do it…Reyanne and I also want to be back in time for my hostel’s bar crawl tonight!

Whilst on this last bus journey, the weather is atrocious with no sign of it easing. We get to Quilotoa and it’s absolutely peeing down, foggy as hell and bloody freezing! I wdnt hike 4-6 hours in this if u paid me! We decide that as we’ve come all this way we should at least take a look. As the only Spanish speaker, I gleam some info off the locals about where to go and the times of return buses!

Reyanne stops in a shop to buy some gloves (it’s honestly that cold) and I ask again how far it is to get to the lake. I’m told it’s a 30 minute walk to the lake but only 3 to the viewpoint. Despite the 6 hours it’s taken us to get here, none of us can be arsed to traipse around in this weather so the viewpoint it is.

Quilotoa is in the Ecuadorean Andes and is a 3km wide caldera formed by the collapse of the volcano following a huge eruption over 600 years ago.

This is an amazingly beautiful place to visit but just not today. View massively obscured by the fog and hands too cold to take many pictures, it is hugely disappointing. You can barely see the famous famous green water of the lake.

We take a few photos and quickly go in search of somewhere warm and something hot to eat. A bowl of local chicken broth (which was bloody dear in comparison to normal local eats…maybe location monopoly), consumed quite quickly – there’s no way I’m missing the bus back and waiting another hour!

We get to the pick up point and 2 men keep telling us to get in a jeep. We decline saying we know the bus picks up here. They tell us it’s much quicker to go with them to the next big town as buses back to Latacunga run every 10 mins and the one we’re waiting for would probably be late. Still cold and wet, for 5$ we jump in and he takes us to the bus.

Crammed on a bus full of locals, we head back towards the way we came only an hour or so before.

The indigenous people of the region are known as Quechua. Most women wear the traditional clothing but unlike other indigenous communities, these women wear fabulous trilby style hats.

They look amazing and I would love to have one…but there’s no way I can carry one of those around for the next 8 months. When raining, they all put little plastic bags over them!

This bus seems to go on forever, especially considering the jeep took us further along the road. 2 hours later we’re back at Latacunga and can get out next one to Quito which leaves in 5 mins.

Outside we join a massive queue and hope we can get on….we do but are definitely one of the last. Time to sit back for another 2 hours!

My hostel offers dinner for 5$ but u need to book a place before 5pm. Not knowing what time it’s served or what I’ll I’ll be back, I get in touch to find out. With a reply of half 7 and I hope to god I’m back by then, I sign up so I know dinner is taken care of for me when I get in!

I get back about half 6….that was one hell of a day! After a long hot shower, I join people in the communal area and have a well deserved beer! I’m definitely going in this bar crawl tonight. I meet a girl from London Bonita, Alex from the States and joined by Júlia from my room, we all split a bottle of wine which turns into a few more.

At 10pm a mini bus picks us up and takes us into the La Mariscal (nightlife district) for the bar crawl.

Lots more drink consumed, new friends made – although I’ve no idea who half these are!

Karaoke and dancing were the order of the night!

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