one of our first views of Quilatoa crater lake
What an amazing visa!
kayaking on Quilatoa crater lake
on the edge while hiking around Quilatoa crater
sunset at the Quilatoa volcano crater
After leaving Latacunga and Cotapaxi, we travelled to Quilatoa, which is a very small village up in the Andes, about 14,000 feet. This is likely going to be one of our most memorable adventures. We spent three nights at a local hostel, $40/night, which is relatively expensive by Ecuadorian standards, but this also included a bountiful breakfast and dinner … family/communal style with everyone else staying at the hostel. We met people from all over the world and swapped stories of our travels. We had two full days of exploring the volcanic crater lake. The weather was perfect … sunny, but cold at night. The hostel was heated only with wood-burning stoves. In the evenings after dinner, we would typically sit around sharing stories. Then we’d run upstairs, take a hot shower to get/stay warm, and crawl under the thick stack of blankets. The first full day, we hiked to the bottom of the crater. There, we kayaked around the crater lake for about an hour. We had the entire lake to ourselves, just hoping that the volcano didn’t decide to re-erupt while we were on the water. There are no incoming rivers to the lake, so it is pretty alkaline with no living critters. At that altitude, the hike back up took a wee bit longer than it took to come down. We could have ridden horses down and/or back up, but decided to tough it out. In total, we took our time and spent about 5-6 hours. The second day, we decided to try trekking around the crater rim. What an experience! Younger, more experienced, hikers could likely do it in 5 hours, but we took closer to 10. Working up the nerve, having our prayer life in order, focusing on the next baby step, hugging the nearest rock, taking *many* deep breaths, getting assistance/encouragement from some of the local indigenous people, and saying “Hey, if we die up here, what a great way to go?!” … we made it. We took so many incredible pictures.