I’ve neglected writing this for a little while so it’s not going to be too in depth. It’s mainly going to cover three places which I visited with varying levels of ‘success’, whatever that means: crater lake Quilatoa, touristy but pretty Baños, and cloudy Riobamba. This kind of goes from high point to low point…
Success: Lago Quilatoa
On the way to Baños, Rav and I stopped over for the night in Latacunga, a town on the way on the pan american highway. This was so we could head up the next day to lake Quilatoa, which is a crater lake accessible up some winding roads into the mountains.
The drive was beautiful, passing loads of farms, shepherdesses with their flocks, and the odd crowd of vicuña which are a sort of wild alpaca type creature. The lake itself though was unbelievable. Completely blue, and dramatically surrounded by the crater.
It was an easy, if slippery and dusty, descent down a path to the lake. There was a fun swing over the edge of the crater and we could sit at the bottom and watch (insane) people jumping into the freezing water.
The way up was more of a struggle, having the get us from about 3400m above sea level to 3800m over only 1.7km of trail. Steep. And thin air. And all the views of the lake are behind you, leaving you looking at just dust. Still, we made it up and had a nice meal in the village before catching the bus back, so all in all it was a very successful day.
Less of a success: Baños
I couldn’t really work out what I made of Baños. It’s a spa town surrounded by beautiful mountains and waterfall, and the scenery was really amazing. The town itself was ok, full of agencies selling adrenaline filled adventure activities (rafting, canyoning, mountain biking etc.) and slightly expensive souvenir shops. Clearly a touristy stop off but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it means there’s lots to do.
Unfortunately, still not feeling 100%. Ever since we arrived in Ecuador there’s definitely been a vague feeling of illness, and I’ve mainly been attributing it to the change of altitude and water. But it meant I wasn’t really feeling the organised fun of the tour agencies, and skipped out when Amber and Rav went rafting.
There were some successes here though. We had really nice armenian food to celebrate 4 months (!) on the road, spent a nice bit of time at a beautiful lookout over the mountains, and even spent a bit of time in the dodgily murky thermal baths. And by a bit of time I mean I had a two minute dip. Rav was loving it and we had to leave her there.
Definitely not a succcess: Riobamba
Riobamba itself wasn’t really the failure. It was a fairly decent town which we stayed on the edges of, and had some good restaurants which we had some very tasty meals at.
The main reason for being there was because Rav and I had heard for a man at Lake Quilatoa that there was a nice walk to be had at nearby Volcan Chimborazo with amazing views, and Amber wanted to go on the also nearby Nariz del Diabolo (devil’s nose) train ride which was also supposed to be spectacular. We got on our respective buses in the morning and headed to our destinations.
Unfortunately it became obvious as our bus wound up into the mountains that we were just surrounded by cloud. Our bus driver let us off at the entrance to the trail, and you could really only see a very small distance ahead. So much for views – we could barely see the trail ahead. After a little while of perservering and hoping the fog would lift, we had to admit defeat and head back to wait for another bus. This was a real downer, especially as we’d heard such good things!
A while after we returned, Amber came back to reveal that the train line had been closed for the day, also due to too much cloud. Big shame. Not a very successful trip to Riobamba.
So that’s a quick rundown of a few of the highs and lows of recent, just to keep this updated. The next might be a bit more reflective, as after Riobamba comes the first real split up we’ve had for more than just a night. As Amber and Rav headed over to party in coastal Montañita, I stayed Andes-way and southwards to Cuenca.