This is the summary of another pretty amazing hike; around 8 am we left the view point at 3800 MSL and walked northward as per the instruction of this document. Once you reach the third and largest sand area, which take up to one hour to one hour and half, make your way down to the village. We didn’t and added 8 kilometers of walking plus a surprise you will discover later.
Once again here is a short recap of our days, in the village of Chugchilan, you have three sleeping options. The cheap run down dirty Cloud Hostal $15 with dinner and breakfast included, Mama Hilda $35 just next door which looks very well run and the Black Sheep hidden away in the forest for $100 we hope it’s good for that price. Evidently for those used to reading us, you guessed where we stayed, and let us add that it was the first time we had trouble sleeping when we saw the state of our bed sheets…
Nonetheless after a soundless sleep we set up again for a walk to the cheese factory. We had bought some bread and drink on our way out, for one of a kind picnic. Don’t worry; it is fantastic no need for more supplies just remember to take enough water for a 5 hour walk. If you are lucky you will be back in the comfort and warmth before the first drop of water, and warming up next to the fire.
When it is time to finally leave the village, few choices are available to you: A 3am or 4am bus back to Latacunga, yes you read it right AM, or if it is during the week you have a 6am, the one going to school in Sigchos from here you immediately transfer to another one for Latacunga. The 9.30am milk truck gets you to the same city but there is no bus until the afternoon though and nothing to visit in the mean time is what we read and saw. Once in Lacatunga we immediately jumped in a cab recovered our bags and made it to Banos via Ambato and two more buses.
You will be able to get an idea with the following pictures of the beauty of our surrounding, we just spent three days filled with breath taking views, Quilitoa loop was definitely up to its reputation.
You start at 3800 down to 2800 and back to 3200 normally if you follow the instruction, easier this way than the other.
Not always a walk in the park.
We knew we where not on the right track but had no idea of what was in stock for us.
At this point we have just found out that we were still 12km away..
Then the rain started and we needed to improvise a trail to cut corner.
And here is the surprise!
After 1 hour of walking we jumped in the back of a fruit delivery truck, a first for all involved. We paid him royally (but we were dry!) to bring us to Chugchilan.
By the road it’s one hour more on a fairly bumpy trail, the rain didn’t stop.
In the end, whatever price it still felt like a good idea now.
This is the next day on our way to the cloud forest look out and the cheese factory.
It has been established 32 years ago the best Emmental this side of the Alpes!
Picnic view, not a noise was to hear around.
Village school bus we were amazed at how piled in they were,
If only we had known! The next day was our turn almost a 100 people in a regular bus, needless to say we were a little tight.
Arrived in Banos.
With yet another visit of…
And boys will be boys no matter where we are in the world.
This portion of the trip was one of the sections a little more unknown and a little less obvious for us to plan. There was a lot of information available online, although confusing. We will have available the next two posts and share the secret of a very enjoyable loop with wonderful sceneries.
Our advice for those interested: Make your way early to the Latacunga bus terminal, from here jump in the first bus for Zumbahua. Note that at this point it will be important to travel very light, if you can arrange to leave your main bag at the hostel, bring with you some warm closing and rain gear because you will need it guaranteed and don’t forget a hat either! If you plan it well Saturday is market day, you will have time to enjoy lunch and provision for the next day. From here, go directly to the community of Quilotoa situated right next to the crater and lagoon. There are two options readily available: A bus if you are lucky on timing or a pickup which is easy to find.
Another comment: We would advise to skip the “Posada de Tigua”, while we had reservation upon our arrival we were informed rather abruptly that they were closed with no room available for us. The place looks run down and rather tired…. Not too worry there are few other hostels with a great dinner and breakfast included nearby the lagoon of Quilotoa, a little bargaining and the room w/ the meals incl is yours for $17 per person. We picked Hostel Chukirawa and were not disappointed; it was truly charming surrounded by nature.
Because we arrived midafternoon this gave us a chance to have a snack and leisurely admire the point of view while watching the clouds coming down slowly in a very mystic way.
Well time for a photo tour…
Last shot of a surprisingly very enjoyable and quaint Latacunga.
First impression of the vista, breathtaking.
Our love for market will never end.
Gentlemen lunch is served.
Looking for some raw wools? We have the adress.
Natural sweet; the Panela. Made of sugar cane and beautifully wrapped.
Sophie: Une photo de notre mere a ressortir lors d’une occasion speciale…
We took the cheaper pickup option, with the ladies up front making a new friend meanwhile the boys are roughing it.
The professional traveller or Routard.
Unlimited view until 3pm and from then on the clouds are closing in and the rain follows.
Coming in slowly and wrapping up the mountain all around.
Thomas et Louis vous aviez raison la grand mere fait bien dans l’herbe seche.
The grand mother doing camomille rail.
Sunset on the surrounding, magic.
The last two days have been dedicated to move half way down the country and walk around two cities. We now have made our way to Latacunga in preparation for the Quilitoa loop. So here is a selection during our exploration of everyday life.
The new official logo of Ecuador, “Ama la vida” “love Life”
Benjamin training for the balcony salute
Yes we have to have our daily dose, beautiful painted one.
We (read Laurent) gave in and tried the local treat, whipped cream “mora” flavor and extremely sweet
Patio and beautiful wood work are everywhere.
The election of Miss Latacunga is a fierce competition
We saw posters all around town
All saints day typical bread, a brioche type filled with pineapple and herbs
The local dress code.
Ecuador is all about safety first.
And that’s where you will end up if you don’t watch step!
Beautiful markets at every corner.
Somebody got to look good, but the press was present…
Of course you take the bus with plastic mannequins for your retail store!
Discreet and efficient…
Today we took the golden age option, meaning marvelous views with very little effort, nevertheless very rewarding. Ecuador is renovating its railway system around a touristic offering, at the same time you will feel like an old time president travelling in a private car around the country.
But first, we made our tour of the market for breakfast; watch out for the refrigerated taxi transporting the pig.
They know how to budget in ecuador, don’t you think.
6 bikes escort make you feel special for the day.
Et voila la troupe de retour.
As usual when we come back to civilization we are in shock! As a matter of fact, Ibarra engulfed us back into the noisy and ever chaotic life of a city; nonetheless we found the market and did a bit of walking around the old town. We even took our daily quota of catholic education albeit starting to feel full…
If that’s not a face for movie whas is?
“To speak to God no need for a cell phone,turn it off please”
Spanish or Quechua your choice.
This morning, we took the option of climbing to the closest hill and discover the surrounding. 1000 meters change of altitude during a 4.5 hours walk, with scenery change and fields surrounding us.
Sophie les parents sont bel et bien robustes, rien a faire!
Nothing to say just splendid.
The afternoon was dedicated to a lesson about the Andean or farming calendar, living a life simply while eating only what you cultivate; which consists of mais, rice, quinoa and a type of rice with beans; undoubtedly a more organic and natural life.
With that we learnt how the quinoa is processed and how they make bread in a wood oven. As you can imagine it was a pleasure for our senses; note that if you wish there are a lot more options to discover offered to you.
Quinoa on its stem
Getting it off the stems
Tamia who is making her first step towards independence and her very pretty Mum.
Emma: she would have wrapped you around your fingers in a second!
Half home grinded Masa, half wheat flour integral with levapain yeast.
Shaping empenadas and the bread dough
This was a truly unique experience; we send our deep thanks to Laura and Alberto’s family for their warm welcome and to Manuel and their foresight a few years ago to open their community to the travelers visiting Ecuador.
In a way we feel sad to leave as early as we had a truly unique experience, please come and join San Clemente and check on Tamia’s progress the youngest one of the clan who made her first steps on her own while we were here.
Dinner was almost ready before this photo was taken.
And then it was time to go to bed, we were all in our deep sleep when at 3.30am our repose was interrupted! Indeed someone from the hostel’s entourage was not too happy to find the door closed, and decided to break a window to get in. Once inside decided to enjoy the rest of the morning, let’s say we didn’t have the best rest… Fortunately we were reminded of darling daughter, a saint you will know. You see what long distance does to a relationship?
After all this, we made our way to Ibarra then the community of San Clemente. From the bus terminal walk five blocks to the Esperanza bus line and you will be whisked to a piece of Paradise. This project was started 16 years ago with the help of a French woman which enables you to say in a Quecha family, then participate, in various activity of the community.
In Tamia’s right hand is Taxo a fruit from the amazon, left hand our lunch.
A very cozy and confortable home.
What shall we do?
Doctor Laura explaining us the medicinal plant, this one is a bandage,
The amount of knowledge blew us off, from concoction prepared to reduce hernia, to soothe kidney infection, to bath for young mother in postnatal time.
And all of it is passed along from parents to children all orally.
Our Swiss chalet, a nice fire and a warm lemongrass tea, what else can we ask for?
Bright and early we set out to the Otavalo animals’ market, the sun wasn’t with us but the authenticity was not disappointing. It had everything we could have anticipated noise, colors, mud and even the smell. As always, a quick interaction with the villagers gave us a good notion of the prices: If you are interested a cow will cost from $250-450, a pig from $100-250, a baby chick from 50 cents to $3 a ready to eat duck for $15. Business is brisk and the animals are changing hands rapidly, Otavalo is truly a typical country village. Voila! You know it all, do you feel like investing?
With photos we will slowly guide you through the various sections:
Pig walker a new ocupation.
The professionals will be our competition, wearing their traditional costumes.
Pig wrestling, the level of decibels was quite interesting.
We jump section and now in the … one, perfect you are following
A happy couple who just sold one.
Well some don’t make it out of the market alive.
Indeed wearing white in the mud is an interesting challenge!
The new generation spoils it for the traveller’s eye in search of authenticity.
Now you can melt.
Only two days old.
You always dream to start your local coq fighthing club, here is how.
How long can we resist?
The lastest fashion in animal rope.
We had to have a medical aloe Vera tea.
With your downfall you will be able to shower your partner with gold.
And relax in the main square.
As you will notice from the picture below we were not the only ones leaving Quito today. Indeed it felt like the entire city was going north for the long week-end, this entitled us to a large police force at the terminal to keep everybody inline and a camera crew to document.
Here is what we found while looking around the internet to get to the North bus terminal Carcelen, we discovered that the Ecovia and trolley line have feeder buses from their respective end. So no need for an expensive cab ride, you will find a well laid out system and in no time, you will make your way up. So let’s see what we discovered today.
Ecuadorian local buses have fancy décor.
We can’t travel in peace anywhere…
This is the service onboard:
Anything you want is available and will come to you, the best inflight service ever.
We made a bee line for the market, where we enjoyed a pulled pork lunch and much more.
How long can I resist?
As you seen above we are back in Quechua land and we found the perfect boutique to dress like one if you ever wish.
No comment needed… We had to have our dose.
We were all up early this morning to make it all the way to Mitad del Mundo, fortunately the sun has been with us all day making our experience even more pleasant. It is one of the rare places where you can easily walk the equator, balanced between the North and South hemisphere, go ahead check Google earth, yes Congo is not that welcoming. To get there: the bus line going to Ofelia will take you to the terminal, don’t exit and pay the extra 15 cents onboard the next ride, the stop is meters away from the entrance.
The site is in full renovation, so soon it may be even more interesting. We still were able to learn a few things about the many Frenchmen who came here to study and confirm the size of the Earth at the beginning of the 20th Century. Next door is the Museum of the site of Intinan. Here they have the real Latitude 00.00 confirmed by GPS more recently, plus a nice ensemble of the principal lifestyle of Ecuador.
When we crossed the line while sailing we didn’t have time to take the picture, so here we are, we make it up to you.
The false line and the real one.
Now let’s walk the line for the officer, eyes closed between North and South it is not so easy to find your balance.
The master egg balancer, and below the apprentice.
If we never make it out of our stay in the Amazon, we may finish that way…
Ron this one is for you, you don’t need to sail all the way.
Ok the rain caught us once back in Quito but we are well equipped!