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.

Must see destination Lake Quilotoa Ecuador

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.

Lake Quilotoa Ecuador

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.

Read:  7 Awesome Adventures in Baños, Ecuador
Lake Quilotoa dog Ecuador
Lake Quilotoa Rim Hike Ecuador
Rim Hike

Horse in Quilotoa Ecuador

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!

Headstand Quito Ecuador

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.

Quito's oldest street, Ecuador
Calle La Ronda – Quito’s Oldest Street

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.

Read:  7 Awesome Adventures in Baños, Ecuador

Quito Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Wanna see more? Watch our Ecuador Highlights video here:


We're Daniel and Amanda. Newlyweds, thrifty backpackers, lovers of food, capturing and exploring the world one adventure at a time.


  1. Your photos are wonderful. It makes me want to change my trip from Lima down to Lima up!! Love reading your adventures.

    • You’re travelling Peru??? One of our favourite countries!! You’re going to love it. We have some posts on Peru and tips for cutting costs if you need any 🙂

  2. fionarabbit2013 Reply

    The crater lake definitely looks amazing. And you said there was no other tourist in sight, so it must have been an off-the-beaten-track attraction? I’ve never been to this part of the world but it looks very tempting from your photos 🙂 Such a wonderful experience there!

    • Thanks Fiona. I think some tourists go here but it’s not as popular as other destinations. We also got up at sunrise which definitely helped.

  3. Your pictures are AMAZING. I especially love the one of Alfredo 🙂
    And those equator experiments–you for real? You’re telling me you can balance an egg on a nail? But you can’t balance yourself? I’m so amazed by this! I want to go just to try these things out!

  4. Oh bless you both for mistaking the hostel! I skipped out on Quilotoa when I was in Ecuador because I was running short on time and money. Couldn’t make head nor tails of how to get there without paying an extortionate amount for a tour, but on seeing your pictures (which btw are absolutely stunning!) I definitely wish I’d cut back in Banos and made more of an effort now. I’m so jealous you’re an Egg Master!!! Definitely wanted one of those certificates, will have to make do with my middle of the world passport stamp instead haha.

    • Ahhh what a shame! perhaps next time you’re in Ecuador! I looked at tours and was outraged so was determined just to do a short tour on our own 🙂 We missed on getting the stamp because we left our passports at home!!!

  5. Those pictures are unreal! I kind of want to visit Ecuador as well! So many places to see! This lake will now be at the top of my Ecuador list!

  6. Wow that colorful crater looks amazing!!! All your photos are stunning and it is going on my bucket list! I have never really thought about visiting Ecuador but I will in the future. Alfredo is so cute too! =)

  7. I love your photos – what to say. Really impressive. Makes me immediately want to be in Ecuador now. Alfredo seems to like the camera a lot – maybe he should become a Model? 🙂

  8. Sounds awesome! Love the rim hike you did and that lake looks so pristine. What happened to Alfredo once you were done hiking? I had no idea that you can’t balance yourself in Ecuador, but you can balance an egg on a nail? What kind of sorcery is that haha! I would have taken a cab home too, as I would be a bit worried about safety in South America.

    • Alfredo knew we were done, we said goodbye and he wondered off! Maybe to help someone else. Yes, it’s quite bizarre that you can’t balance yourself but it’s something to do with the egg yolk being perfectly centred at the equator making it easier.

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