Thursday, October 1, 2015

#travelpost - Quilotoa and Baños

Getting to Quilotoa took a fair bit of travelling but we arrived just after sunset on Sunday. We stayed at Alpaca hostel which was a big old cosy house with a huge lobby filled with log burners and armchairs. It was like going back in time for the night... The family that run the place were wearing their traditional hats and outfits and there were even two big iron kettles on top of the biggest burners for our coffee and tea. We dropped our bags off in our room and it was freezing! The beds came with 2 blankets and a huge feather duvet and we had our own much needed log burner too. We hurried out for food because someone at the hostel reminded us about the super moon.... I've never seen anything like it. They said it would be best at half nine but  we sneaked out a little earlier. The sky was unreal, it looked fake! I've never seen so many stars in my life and you could even see the dusty shape of the nebula. By half nine the moon was big and had a reddish glow and it was frrreeeezing I'm talking two pairs of socks, two pairs of leggings and walking boots cold so we had one last admire and to bed we went. A few card games later we were tucked up with the fire burning.

The next morning we had breakfast at the huge communal dining table in the lobby... Eggs, pastries, oats, fruit, jam and coffee. After brekkie we got changed and headed to the famous crater lake of Quilotoa, it was an easy 3 minute walk from the hostel as we were greeted good morning by the locals. It was sunny but so so windy! The lake was one of the best things I've ever seen... A huge bowl filled with turquoise water.. The sides were so steep and high. We walked around it for a good 40 minutes, had a sit down and planned a bit of our route through Ecuador and strolled back. It was a strange, cold night in a very, very quiet town but it was so worth it to see the lake. 

At midday the next day we caught the bus back to Latacunga, a town with not much to see or do but it was a useful stop over for our next place and our hostel had a view of Cotopaxi volcano. Active and smoking. We did want to go to Cotopaxi National Park but because of the recent activity it's shut to visitors for safety and the only hostel available cost an arm an a leg so we saw it from afar for a quarter of the price. That night we shared pizza with some other guys staying over and picked up a new card game with the classy name Shithead... It's a lot better than it sounds I promise.

After a stopover night in Latacunga it was time to head to Baños, famous for its volcano heated natural baths and enough activities to last days. 

We stayed in Great Hostel yep that was the actual name and it was actually pretty decent. Both nights we got free dinner and both mornings we got free breakfast. All we need now is free beer. We only had one afternoon and a full day in Baños so for the first afternoon we headed straight to the baths. In the centre of town, next to a waterfall, was the Piscinas de la Virgin... A set of pools  hot, medium and cold... Rumour has it that the water is so full of natural minerals and other things that it has healing properties. After the baths and a bit of a boozy night at the hostel bar we woke up and went on the hunt for bikes to rent. We got some for $5 each for the day and started our ride... We were heading for Pailon del Diablo, a huge waterfall some kilometres away from the town. The views were great and the ride wasn't too bad, a lot of downhill helped me out. After an hour and a half of riding, we made it to the waterfall but not without a walk down the hill to get close enough. Harry was brave enough to crawl through the extra stairway that led behind the waterfall but as usual I waited in a more safer spot and admired the view. As promised before I'd agreed to do the bike ride, we avoided the uphill ride back and jumped in the back of a truck with a few other riders and off we went back to town. We got home around 3ish and with the football being on I made the most of being able to have an afternoon shower and siesta and a quiet night of writing this and repacking my messy backpack. 

So, our plan is... Tomorrow (Thursday) morning we travel to Guayaquil for the night and from there we have 6 days on the coast in a few fishing villages and surfer towns. With my current tan you'd think I hadn't been on a beach for months! 

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