Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hiked around Laguna Quilotoa

Aahh a day in the country. Had a fabulous breakfast (I know - food again!) and then decided to do the biggest hike around Laguna Quilotoa with Peg, Barbara, Ami and Riati (the 2 Finnish women!).

So, in order to start the trek around the volcano, you rent a truck to drive you about one hour to the volcano head then you start the 4-5 hour hike. We sat in the back of the truck - hmm take a look - a tad dusty but a great way to see the countryside and wave to all the local folks along the route!

Dominique and i decided the 5 hour trek wasnt enough for us, so decided to hike down into the crater to the stunning lagoon below. It was beautiful and gives a totally different perspective
to the area from down there than from the vistas above. There were lots of sheep along the way and the shepherd boys (see pic) were so cute and sweet until they started tormenting their dog by pulling its leg out of its socket - hmmn not so nice!!!

The climb back up wasnt so hot i have to say - lots of loose, sandy gravel and very steep. So, as I am puffing away, a bunch of damn tourists sway past me on their mules - definitely the more civilized (and less sweaty!) way to go but really, too too touristy for me, i´ve got to do the real thing - even if it nearly kills me!

So - back to the top and then we started our hike. Nice view eh! A quarter way around we have to find the third large sandy area then head left! Luckily we did find that (phew!) then we had to look for a large cairn of stones and 3 euculyptus trees (yes this is how directions work in the Ecuadorian highlands!). Hmmn we found a ton of trees, not sure if they were Euculyptus but anyway we headed down to the wee village of Guayama. As we walked through a few back gardens, thinking, hmmn is this really the right way , we came upon the village. The local shop had Fanta orange - yah! but as i walked out with my bottle in hand, the wee lady called me back, "I need the bottle" she said, so i obliged and drank it on the premises before heading off to the second leg of our hike... it is amazing to see how hard these people work.. we saw men and women carrying 2 and 3 large cement blocks on their backs, held there by colorful big blankets. Others were shelling peas and corn, and the children were playing in the street; everyone seems quite content and "tranquilla" as we say in Latin America!

As we headed home, we passed a large canyon with fantastic views of the valley. We had to do some creative hiking at one point, jumping over a river, walking uphill for over an hour (phew again!) but we made it back to the BSI and everyone was quite impressed that we did both the crater up and down, and the hike. Me - i was just knackered but it was a great day i have to say! .....


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