September 30th - 2nd October 2003
The Quilotoa Circuit takes you through a number of remote highland villages and offers some great offroading with fantastic scenery. We spent the first night of the circuit at La Quinta Colorada, a few kilometers from the Panamericana (near Lasso). It is a small hostal with either dorms or double rooms with open fires, and a nice bar/dining area, again with an open fire.
La Quinta Colorada
They let us camp there for the night for $3 each, with the use of a hot shower. So we settled in for the night with a few beers, a couple of games of Pass the Pigs, and then dinner (a delicious hot sweet alcoholic beverage, a very filling soup, a main course of rice, potatoes, vegetables and meat, finished off with some hot fruit, all for $5). The staff there were exceptionally friendly and it would be a good place to relax for a few days. But we had some driving to do.
The next day was a very long day's drive. We had been told that it would take about 2 1/2 hours to get to the village Chugchilán, just before the Laguna Quilotoa, the crater lake of the Quilotoa Volcano. It took us five hours! And that was only half way round the circuit. The roads were very rough, potholed, stony, windy and steep and Ed enjoyed the 200km of offroading. To be fair, though, we did make a slight detour. A little old lady who must have been about 60 odd waived us down just outside Chugchilán and looked so distraught that Ed stopped to help her. She was carrying a huge sack of potatoes on her back and wanted a lift. She looked near to tears. So whilst I sat on the cubby box between Ed and the old lady, off we went. We thought we would only be taking her up the hill into the village, but she wanted us to take her to her house - up a very steep and bumpy track. We had no idea how close or far her house actually was, although she insisted it wasn't far. Eventually we reached her house and she left us with an extremely grateful smile. We reackoned it would have taken her at least 4 or 5 hours to walk there. She was probably the first person we have met who didn't seem phased by the steering wheel on the right hand side and was very interested in the stuffed toys on the dash!
Happy with our good deed for the day, we continued ever upwards to Laguna Quilotoa, the beautiful green volcanic crater lake. It was fairly windy and cold, so we paid the $1 entrance fee each, admired the view and then headed back onto the circuit, finishing up in Latacunga for the night. We were thinking of walking down to the lake, but a local bloke was paying us a little too much attention and wanted to accompany us. So we moved on.