First stop: Quilotoa
During our adventure filled week in Baños I found a photo online of a crater lake with a magnificent green colour that simply didn’t look real. I told Daniel that we HAD to go. If this place was legit, I needed to see it. So we decided we’d detour through Quilotoa to Quito.
The bus arrives at around 8pm, it’s pitch black and we are starving. We meet a girl on the bus who says Lonely Planet recommends a hostel – let’s call it Hostel X because I don’t remember the name. Lonely Planet says that Hostel X has amazing food, comfy beds and is well priced. With my phone flashlight, I see Hostel X painted in huge letters on the side of the building and walk in…to the hostel next door. This means we end up with below average food, no hot water (so we opted for no shower instead), a rock hard bed in a freezing room and 2 hours sleep. We wake up and realise that we walked in to the wrong building but it doesn’t matter because the view of this crater lake is enough to make me forget all about last night. Daniel and I sit in silence, just watching the clouds wash over the sky and the water sparkle under sunlight. With no tourists in sight and volcanoes in the backdrop, we both agree that this is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been.
We decide to hike around 1/3 of the rim and as we start, a dog starts to guide us. We name him Alfredo (after our awesome guide on our Inca Jungle Trek in Perú) because he is so helpful in helping us navigate our way around the crater. He is also ridiculously cute and loves having his photos taken.
Quilotoa to Quito…
After our half day hike, we catch a bus to Quito (the capital city of Ecuador) for a quick 2 day trip. Quito (pronounced kee-toh) is actually the world’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also popular stop for tourists wanting to visit La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World). Ecuador is named after the equator (which runs through the country) and is the only country in the world officially named after a geographical feature. The official name, República del Ecuador, translates as “The Republic of the Equator”.
We head to the Inti Nan museum and are led through a brief history lesson before we get to some experiments on the equator. The first demonstration is balancing a raw egg on the head of a nail which is meant to be easier (I’m a certified “egg master” because I could do this). Next, we watch water spin in different directions (just like in The Simpsons) when a sink is placed on either side of the equator. We then get told that it’s more difficult to balance on the equator so I try to do a headstand to test out the theory. I cheated and just leaned my feet – I couldn’t balance!
Daniel and I LOVE free walking tours so we sign up for a random one that takes us through some beautiful old churches and through Quito’s oldest street. We watch a Changing of Guards ceremony and see the president of Ecuador come out and say hello.
To save ourselves $10, we decide to catch a bus to the cable car for photos at sunset. We instantly regret this when we realise that the bus stops every 10 seconds (no exaggeration) and it ends up taking us well over an hour to travel 5kms #travelfails. We make it up the cable car just in time to watch the city light us as the sun goes to sleep. Not wanting to make the same bus ride mistake again, we share a taxi ride and treat ourselves to an overpriced sushi dinner. We tell the owner that we plan to take a bus home and he insists that we take a taxi because it’s too dangerous. We um and ah about the cost (since the sushi was really expensive) but end up taking his advice because you know, we want to live.
Wanna see more? Watch our Ecuador Highlights video here: