Sonntag, 5. Februar 2017
Quilotoa Loop
After Cuenca I travelled north to Riobamba where I organized a hiking tour on the Quilotoa Loop, roughly in the middle between Riobamba and Quito. This loop is a quite popular several day hike with good hostels on the way. I went together with a Swiss nurse that is working at the coast of ecuador for 9 months, her two parents that were just visiting her and our guide Eddy. The others came from Quito, so I met them in the middle by the Panamericana. on the way to the starting point of our hike we stopped twice to admire the beautifull scenery and views on several volcanos of the area including Cotopaxi, Ecuadors second highest mountain and an active vulcano. We were lucky to have an absolutely sunny day.

view from one of the highpoints. Cotopaxi is the snowcovered one a bit to the right.

Selfie with Cotopaxi.

The first day hiking was rather easy-going and the scenery a very lush green. Our hostel for the night was Llullu Llama (baby Lama), a very nice Eco-Hostel with superb homemade Dinner and breakfast (including good selfmade bread). The breakfast was a close second to the one at Copalinga.
The second day we started hiking after breakfast and again were lucky to have great weather with sunshine all day long.

on the way

Our lunchbreak viewpoint.

Our group (excluding the local guy on the left who just didn't want to move...)

Our second hostel was called "Mama Hilda" and was a real gem. Same as Copalinga they set up several sugar feeders for the hummingbirds. I had quite some opportunities for my camera including the Giant hummingbird (huge beast) and a very longtailed one:

some of the accomodation at Mama Hilda

The giant hummingbird

A hummingbird of the Woodstar family resting on the top of the bushes

The same one in action. His beak is actually too short to get to the nectar from the bottom so he punshes a small hole at the base to get there.

nice flight shot

In the evening we went for a short drive up to the top and got to see the sunset over the clouds towards the coast.
The third day was the hardest. We again set off after breakfast and first descended before then ascending to the ridge of the Quilotoa crater (roughly 3800m). The weather was quite cloudy especially the closer we got to the top. We only had a small glimpse of the beautifull crater lake before the clouds closed in on us:

Crater lake of Quilotoa

similar view, maybe 15min later...

the errosion creates this almost sand-like soil. Was like walking in sanddunes.
Once we arrived in the town of Quilotoa we were picked up by our driver. I was dropped off at the Panamericana again were I took a bus to Quito. The trip was absolutely worth it and if I ever visit the area again, it will definately be on my list. We met a lot of hikers who did the trip without a guide, hostels in Latacunga (one of the starting points) provide rough maps and trail descriptions.

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