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The Quilotoa Loop August 14, 2007

Posted by Jason in culture, Ecuador, Environment, Nature, South America, Travel, wilderness.
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From Cuenca we went to Latacunga, a small town which is the jumping off point for the “adventurous” journey around the Quilotoa Loop through indigenous villages and remote countryside.

Indigenous painting in a unique style to the area, the subject matter speaks for itself!     Masks from the village of Tigua     Jason sporting one of the masks, a much needed improvement!!

We headed out the next day to catch the early bus. We decided to take the local transport regardless of how unreliable it is to see the “real” Ecuador! As usual the bus left late than expected no doubt on South American time!

Our first stop was at Tigua. A small settlement on the highland road. Here there is an art gallery with local Indigenous art work and masks. It was quite beautiful.

The Laguna at Quilotoa, within the volcanic crater

We then thumbed down the next bus to Quilotoa 3,800m where the famous Laguna is situated. This is an old Volcanoe filled with water. We arrived at Quilotoa and walked to the view point which was quite spectacular. The weather, as usual in our time in Ecuador was poor. Windy, grey skies and very cold! Just like England hey! The local people were selling their wares here, much artesane products.

The impressive thing about this journey is that most of the people you encounter are of Indigenous origin. On the buses, in the villages and most impressively in the businesses you encounter. Whether arts and crafts, transport companies, or local eateries and hostels. We definitely got a feeling that the local population was benefiting from the tourism and wealth in the areas. It seems that the local population are not the poor Indigenous people of say Bolivia.

From the Laguna we caught the next bus to the remote settlement of Chugchilan at 3,200m. Only a population of a few hundred here and until a few years ago there were no places for people to stay. Now there are 3 places. 2 locally owned very cheap Hostels and very friendly. (8$ each for a private room including breakfast and dinner!).

Also there is a famous Eco Lodge called the Black Sheep Inn.

The Black sheep inn A Sunset view from the Black Sheep Inn So. . . which one is the Black Sheep!

The first night we stayed at the Hostal Cloud Forest which was very nice. We bumped into a Dutch family who spent our Galapagos cruise with here! I resurrected my footballing career (in goal) and playing the local Ecuadorians managed to win 4-0 keeping a clean sheet! No small feet at altitude!! I have since retired again.

The following day we stayed at the Black Sheep Inn. Not cheap here but very interesting. They are trying to become self sufficient and utilize many Eco friendly ways of building and irrigation methods. The buildings are all built of Adobe, with compost toilets. They fully integrate with the local community helping the village in various ways. Run by 2 Americans Michelle and Andres who moved here in 1995 following there own backpacking trip. It is an interesting story and a beautiful place to stay.

Playing football at 3,ooom The village of Chugchilan YES. . . this is a sheep on the roof of the bus! Our bus around the Quilotoa loop on our final day!

We chilled out here for a day before moving on the next bus to Sigchos and then onto Latacunga. For us this was the most beautiful part of the journey. And we didn t see another Gringo on this side of the Loop.

For us the Quilotoa Loop was nice and staying at the Black Sheep Inn was very interesting. However it is not the “Indigenous”, “remote”, or “challenging” journey many write about. But you have to see it and experience it to judge I guess.

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