Quilotoa

Laguna Quilotoa, the volcanic crater lake situated 4 hours South West of Quito.  It is quite an magnificent lake with a circumference of almost 10km and 13km for the outside crater peak. 
I met two girls in the same rappelling group in Banos that were also heading to Quilotoa and we decided to go together.  One is from a french carribean island near Puerto Rico that you can barely find on the maps, the other is from Finland.  Very cool people. 
We left at 6AM from Banos to Latacunga and then directly to Quilotoa via another bus. Latacunga seemed to be quite a lovely city.  The Ecuadorians with their traditional clothing, ponchos, fedora hats, skirts for girls etc can be seen every where.  I wished I could have stayed more but in quite a bit hurry.  The bus passed by the town Zambahua which holds a big market in the town square on Saturdays.  I wanted to go but I wanted to see Quilotoa even more so I decided to skip it.
Right next to the lake there is the small town Quilotoa.  We found a shitty cabin for 6 dollars each.  There is no light in the bathroom and they forgot to put a trash can there even after I asked.  The beds are warm and 2 guys and 1 girl from Michigan that are exchange students in Quito were put in the same room as us.  They are really cool, and are good hikers.  It ended up with us six people having to share 4 beds and after a bit of arguing we got the price down to 5.  There is no internet in the mountains, but that didn’t surprise me.
After a bit of coca tea, since coca leaves are sort of illegal in this country except a few places, we set out to do the around the crater hike.  The hike lasted 5 hours, and I thought it would take 3 and a half since it looked easy from the trail head and Quilotoa only stands at 3900 meters.  It took us a solid 5 hours, even thou we took a bunch of picture and snack stops.  However, the hike was very interesting that included multiple ascends and descends in the 100-200m elevation range.  There were a lot of sand on the narrow path, actually more sand than the Santa Barbara beach.  The sand makes the walking a bit more tiring. 
The hike was great but it made all of clothes dirty, especially my shoes.  The views were breath taking and we only saw another group doing the trek. 

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As the cloud passes over the Laguna, you can observe the reflected color of the water change and it is quite a site.  The other side of the crater stands the mountain side of Ecuador it is quite beautiful as well.  On a clear day you can see Cotopaxi and the ilinizas, but the Quito and surrounding area has been cloudy for over a week.  Even when I passed by Cotopaxi through Latacunga, the mountain was surrounded by its fumes and cloud. 

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After the hike, everyone ate, rested and readied to sleep.  Every room has a wood burning stove to keep the room warm.  By accident, the wooden key holder was placed on top of the burning stove.  In the middle of the night, I was woken up by people saying there is fire.  It was just a lot of smoke in an enclosed area because the key holder was burning.  The next room was also filled with smoke because there was a leaky chimney pipe.  I wasn’t sure if it was the leaky chimney from next door or the key holder but we almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning.  The smoke put me to sleep really well and I had a couple of nice dreams haha.  So that was an interesting story, and the people who work at the place is no where to be found. 

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Despite the snuffle, the night sky in Quilotoa was extremely beautiful. The stars were highly visible and I can see a shroud of the milky way. I wish o had a better camera to take a photo but I didn’t.
The next morning we had breakfast and more coca tea and went down 300m to the lake.  There are many bubbles coming out of the lake from the sulfate oxidizing.  The rocks around the lake all has signs of sulfate and rust forming.  I was going to go in for a bit but the smell of sulfur turned me against it.  One of the Michigan dudes went it and took a couple gulps of sulfur water, and it wasn’t fun.  Then we hiked back up the super sandy path back to town and took a bus to Latacunga and then to Quito.  It was a very interesting weekend and 5/5 recommended for the crater hike.

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