Volcanoes and getting lost

We discovered that our Spanish really wasn’t that bad yesterday morning as we again asked for desayuno (breakfast) and received curried chicken with rice and potatoes served with hot water and a bottle of instant coffee. Must be the local dish here.As my father would say it’s just packing! 

So I was feeling better after our rest day yesterday so we decided to catch a local bus out to Quilotoa where there is a massive crater lake, formed in the bowels of an extinct volcano. I have always wanted to climb a volcano and the one just down the road that was in contention is actually very active at the moment, so much so that they have shut down most of the national park surrounding it. We are going there tomorrow to try and get some shots.
 Quilotoa crater lake is roughly 10kms in circumference and you can actually walk all around the rim of it. Needless to say that was something we wanted to do. Apparently it would take 4 to 5 hours but I forgot to mention that it is 3500 to 3900 meters above sea level and it varies from these two heights all the way around so lots of peaks and troughs. Not so leisurely afterall! 

The view from the starting point is actually the best and boy is it spectacular. The water was more green and less aqua blue than Crater lake in Oregon and not as big but still beautiful. Apparently the water is green due to minerals in the crater. We started our walk along the goat track and soon found ourselves descending down the first hill. We realized how lucky we were in bringing our walking poles as it was quite slippery. We looked up and realized we had a fairly sizable incline coming up. The path was in the middle of two pretty steep drop offs and although the path was wide enough it was very vertigo inducing. Tim hasn’t has any real trouble on this trip but it was troubling a little bit. Fair enough really as I was also being extra cautious on where I was putting my feet. 

But we made it, along with the next 5 ascents and descents. When we were about 3/4 of the way around the crater the path split left and right. Right was uphill and left was a path cutting into the crater but not up. By this stage we had had enough of the ascents so we’re hoping for a cut around the peak. Needless to say we took the left! It started okay but soon became very narrow and about 45mins into it we came to a cliff that neither of us wanted to navigate. So back we tracked. To add salt to our wounds, it started to rain. That backtrack was tough, it sucked right royally. But we made it back and took the right path up the next ascent. 

Due to our short/long cut we had missed the last bus back but that was okay as there were hostels in Quilotoa. As we trudged back into town 6 and a half hours after we started we managed to hitch a ride back to the next town where the buses left more frequently. Currently on that bus back to Latacunga, thirsty and hungry but otherwise glad we did the hike (which at some points we had to use our hands as well so technically a climb). We have officially circumnavigated the rim of a volcano, even if it was extinct and no pools of lava were to be seen! S

   
The view from the starting point. No need to do the walk as it was the best view but we are suckers for punishment.

 The goat track on what we soon discovered was the easiest part of the walk.

   
A great shot of the path around.

 
The view looking away from the crater was also spectacular. Ecuador doesn’t seem to have any infertile land from what we have seen.

   
This is Michelle, a little local girl who is sent up around the path to sit in a shelter selling drinks etc. It certainly is a hard life for these kids, having to help contribute to put food on the table. 

 
The highest point of the crater.

   
View from the top.

 
As you can see from the next two photos , we really were walking along the rim of the crater. Quite scary at times.

   
 
The clouds rolled in and it became a little eerie!

   
The waters edge was really very beautiful and dramatic.

    
 The crazy path on our short cut which turned out to be us getting lost.

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