A Great Vacation: Part 2- Quilotoa, Latacunga, Cotopaxi

Last February when we first started looking into Ecuador, we came upon some stunning pictures of a lake in the crater of a  volcano.The name of the volcano is Quilotoa. When we came to Ecuador we realised it was quite a trip, around 11 hours from our house to go to Quilotoa. But from Ambato it wasn’t far. We stayed with the girls Monday night, and in the morning  said our goodbyes, and headed on a bus to a town about an hour north named Latacunga. Once we got there we found a hotel and then got on another bus headed for the Quilotoa. The bus ride took about 2 hours, and winded into the high mountains west of Latacunga. Finally we arrived at the end of the line, and the few us left on the bus got off and were greeted by an Ecuadorian woman in traditional garb with a  clipboard. They make everyone sign in when they enter the “town”. The town of Quilotoa consists of about 10 homes and a handful of hostel /restaurants.  We were delighted when the woman told us that it was only about a 5 minute walk to the volcano. It turn out to be less than that, and when we came to the summit of our path, we were greeted with one of the most beautiful sights we had ever seen!

Quilotoa lake

Quilotoa lake

DSCN0403My wallpaper on my iPad has been a picture of Quilotoa since I first saw a picture, now we were there! What a cool feeling.The water was as blue as you see in this picture, if not more blue! We took a few pictures, and decided to hike down to the lake. It was an easy hike downhill, and we snapped lots of pictures on the way.

We arrived at the bottom, and enjoyed the view, but quickly had to turn around, to make it back up for the bus back to Latacunga.

by the lake

by the lake

The hike to the top was taxing, but we made it, and enjoyed a nice meal at a restaurant in the town. then we headed back towards Latacunga.

Once we got to our hotel we decided that instead of  heading to Quito the next morning as planned, we would look into heading to Cotopaxi national park. We found an agency, and a guide agreed to take us up in the morning, So we headed to get some food. We saw a sign for a restaurant called the “El Gringo y la Gorda” (the white guy, and the fat girl) we went inside and were thoroughly impressed. We were not expecting much, as we had not been impressed with the town of Latacunga. Eventually the owner came over and started to speak with us in English, Clearly he was the “Gringo” in “El Gringo y la Gorda”.

Our new friend Mauricio Andrade from Latacunga

Our new friend Mauricio Andrade from Latacunga

Turns out this guy was from New Orleans, but left after Katrina. After an hour or more of talking, during and after our meal, he tells us that he was partners with  Emeril Lagasse, the famous chef from New Orleans. We believed him after tasting the food. It was Amazing! Maurico had returned here to his home town after 30 years in the states. He had moved back here in an effort to revitalise his home town of Latacunga. He’s off to a great start!

At the foot of Cotopaxi, with another mountain in the background

At the foot of Cotopaxi, with another mountain in the background

The next morning we met our guide and rode with him toward Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is one of the worlds highest active volcanos. The area surrounding the volcano is a national park. We had no idea how beautiful it was till we got there. It was a slow drive up the mountain as we needed to acclimate to the altitude. We made several stops along the way, including a museum, a cafe were we drank coca tea to help us with the altitude, and again at the foot of the mountain. Unfortunately  it was a cloudy day again, and even at the foot of the mountain we couldn’t see much of it. But the surrounding countryside was pretty breathtaking. As we drove up the mountain, more and more came into view. Finally we were as high as the car could take us, so we parked, and started the climb up the mountain. We made it to the refuge in about an hour, and then after a short break we started for our final destination, the base of the glacier. It took us about an half hour to get to the glacier. Right when we arrived, the clouds cleared, and we got a good view of the peak. It was perfect timing!

At the glacier

At the glacier

What an amazing couple of days!… but we weren’t finished with our vacation just yet!….DSCN0559DSCN0580DSCN0621DSCN0614DSCN0626DSCN0502

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