Saturday, August 20, 2011

Laguna del Quilotoa

December 3, 2010

Went on a tour of Laguna del Quilotoa which is a beautiful lake inside a volcano at about 13,000 feet high. We started out at 7 am with my guide and it took almost 4.5 hrs to get there after stopping for the food market at Saquisili for approx. 45 minutes. The ride in our car was even more scary and exciting than the bus trip from Colombia. The road was very high and many hairpin turns with no barriers to keep you from hurtling to your death. We almost got killed when a 2 Giant Orange Dump Truck tried to pass another dump truck on a curve. Still not sure how the 3 vehicles all fit on that narrow mountain road. Probably most scared I have ever been in an automobile. We encountered several other large trucks on the way up the mountain and they all seemed to be racing each other down with little concern for safety. The return trip in the pitch dark of night with all the hairpin curves was no piece of cake either.

Back to the Laguna. We started our trek along the top of the crater around 12 pm. It was my guide, Mateus' first time to Quilotoa, so we were both experiencing it for the 1st time. As we started the journey we immediately found ourselves with a new guide, a brown dog, that seemed determined to lead the way. The trip was to last about 4 hrs. The path along the top of the crater started out very beautiful until the clouds rolled in and we could no longer see the lake. That did not deter us from completing the walk around the crater rim. The dog kept us on the trail a few times when we would have taken a wrong path. The climb was very strenuous as we kept climbing and then descending over and over. We finally reached the approximate end of the trail and saw what looked like a road near a path that went inside the crater. Unfortunately we took the crater path. 2 hours later, lost, we found a native who was was tending sheep who said we would have to walk straight up the mountain that we had descended to get back on the path. It looked too difficult so we continued looking for a better path. With only an hour of daylight, we asked another native woman to guide us out of the crater. We started straight up the wall of the crater for an hour and reached our car about 10 minutes before dark. I paid the woman $10 ($7 more than we had negotiated) because I realized the danger we had been in lost without a flashlight and totally exhausted. We arrived back at the hostel around 9:30 pm laughing about the whole adventure which is easy to do when you are once again safe. Leave for Mendoza Friday night on plane from Quito.




















Our first guide after we got lost. She said just climb up the mountain. Easy for her to say. lol

Native children sheep herders who found us interesting and followed us.

The woman who may have saved my life by guiding us out of the crater before dark.

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