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Quilotoa Loop

June 24, 2012

Once back in the central valley from Papallacta we wanted to visit Cotopaxi national park. However the weather just didn’t cooperate with us and low cloud (well at over 3500m) covered the park. We decided to head West as things looked a little brighter that way and drive the Quilotoa Loop.

This is a roughly 200km or so drive that is around 50% paved roads, 25% dirt and 25% cobbles. It travels through highland Paramo and drops down to dry river valleys. The mid point of the route is a beautiful crater lake – at the village of Quilotoa.

The drive round the loop is beautiful but just before Quilotoa we were stopped for almost an hour by a landslide. There was a crew with JCB’s dumping all the rocks off the side of the road but the waiting locals gave the area a real party feel.

We arrived at Quilotoa at around 4.30pm which gave us time to admire the lake and walk around the area a bit before dark. We slept the night in the street outside a hostel that is being built there. However it was a pretty uncomfortable night as gale force winds rocked the Beast all night. In the morning we had intended to walk around the crater but the winds were just too strong. We thought we might walk down instead but the wind was blowing dust along the path making it very unpleasant.

So instead we drove the other half of the loop, through the small town of Chugchilan and back to the PanAm. We had every intention to go to Cotopaxi the next day and were encouraged when the mountain appeared as it was getting dark. However the next morning we awoke to even lower cloud than before and decided to head East to Banos.

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