Hiking with altitude - not so easy...
14.11.2013 - 16.11.2013
Note to self: when deciding to do a trek at almost 4,000 metres, research properly - sometimes the first option is not the easiest...
At least that was our experience when we decided the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador looked like a bit of fun for a few days.
We did our research (read: I read one blog that described how a couple did it) and went for it without much further thought.
We picked Justin up via a nights stay in Baños where he had been volunteering for the past five or so weeks, then jumped on a bus to Latacunga. Clearly not much of a tourist town, hostels were a little more difficult to come by, and hostels with Internet appeared non existent.
The next morning the plan was to catch a bus to Isinliví. The guidebooks told us a bus left every day around midday.
On Thursdays though? No bus... Ohhhh dear.
The back up plan had to come into play - a bus to Saquisilí, another to Sigchos, and then a third to Isinliví?
No. No busses between Sigchos and Isinliví. So we thought we'd be starting our hike a day early, with a 14km walk to Isinliví...
But luck finally caught up with us and we managed to hitch a ride to town.
We spent the night at Hostal Llullu Llama, sitting around the fire with several other travellers and playing cards with the chefs son.
The following morning following a hearty breakfast, we were off, starting at 2,900 metres with an almost 12km hike ahead of us.
Alas, the trek began downhill, and then further downhill... Until we got to Guantualo. Here we were guided by some young school children, who pointed us up a steep hillside, and up and up we went. Eventually, exhausted, hungry, and covered in dust, we made it to Chugchilán at 3,200 metres.
The next day was set to hike to Quilotoa - about 10km away, but we can't trust the signs in Ecuador. We passed this sign on the way out of town...
Then shortly further along the road, we found this one...
For this hike, I was much more prepared - I had the chef at Hostal Cloud Forest prepare a lunch for me, and I have to say it was the best $3 I ever spent (so much food!!!).
Like the previous day, this day started with a downhill stretch, as we headed to the river at 2,800 metres, then back up to Rio Sihui, and eventually Quilotoa at 3,900 metres. With my delicious lunch though, I found the day much more enjoyable, and while still finding the hike difficult, I didn't feel the same exhaustion as the previous day!
If you haven't been checking the maths, we hiked and continually got higher across the two days. Every other traveller we met was heading in the opposite direction to us, and with each hostel we stayed at, we were farewelled with a 'good luck' since they all knew we were about to have a difficult day!!
Here's some shots from along the trek: