How to Redeem Bolt Bus Reward
Ecuador was the country I had the least time for. Despite being a rather small southamerican country it still has to offer a lot of beautiful places and deserves a lot of time spent with discovering them all. But I was already more than 4 months in and time and money slowly started dictating my travel schedule. It was the end of September and my initial plan was to return home in October… Meeting my schedule had already become impossible, but no worries! My money would still last for a while so I simply decided to extend my trip for as long as possible (My dad's comment: “What, December? He said he was going to come back in October! Is he ever going to start looking for a job ?! ”).
I had already booked a bus from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city, to Peru for the night of the 2nd of October. I had 8 days left to see what I could get to the coast for a dive and arrive in Guayaquil. No problem!
1st day: From Quito to Latacunga
On my way south I wanted to see the volcanic lake Quilotoa. To get there you first take a bus from the terminal “Quitumbe” in Quito to a town called Latacunga. Latacunga is a destination of many travelers who use it as a base for trips to Quilotoa and the volcano Cotopaxi.
What I noticed on the journey: compared to Colombia, Ecuador has some pretty modern and broad highways, especially in the area around the capital. My bus arrived in Latacunga after about 2 hours. I stayed at a hostel named “Tiana”. A perfect hostel right in the center and with a rooftop terrace to take a sunbath and enjoy the impressive view of the volcano Cotopaxi. Latacunga itself has some nice spots, like the central square (those Spaniards just knew how to build nice squares!), And also a couple of nice restaurants (I remember having some great pizza at a place called “Nice Cream & Tutto Freddo” right next to La Merced).
Cotopaxi, unsuccessfully trying to hide behind clouds
Parque Vicente León in Latacunga
2nd day: Quilotoa
The next morning I had to get up early to catch a bus to Quilotoa. At the breakfast table I met two German sisters who were going there too, so we went to the bus terminal together (10 to 15 minutes walking distance). One of the girls was quite nice, bute damn! Her sister was the most annoying know-it-all I've ever met. EVER! So as soon as we boarded the bus I pretended to sleep to protect myself from bullshit and annoyance 😀
The bus to the little village Quilotoa right by the lake takes you on a scenic journey through the Andes. Now, 8 months after the bus ride, I still remember it as one of the best moments of my whole journey. Perfect weather, amazing landscapes and traditional music playing on the bus driver’s radio - it was such a perfect and peaceful atmosphere and made me realize: I'm really in the Andes! It felt like I had entered a whole new world (my pictures may give you an idea of it, but they can’t really show the true depth and beauty of the landscapes we saw).
Almost there! (and what a strangely exact sign ...)
At the lake of Quilotoa you have two options: You can either walk around the whole crater (around 5 to 6 hours if I remember right) or descend to the bottom, take a closer look at the lake and ascend back up (should take you around 3 hours in total). We arrived at the lake around 10 am and the last bus back to Latacunga was supposed to leave around 5 pm. The girls were going to hike around the crater so I made sure to do the opposite of what they did. My decision was to first go down to the lake and then maybe walk a small section of the crater, have lunch and go back to Latacunga.
The hike was short but tough. The trail was steep and so sandy that I sunk in with every step downhill it was no problem but uphill I had to make two steps to move one step forward. Life’s a bitch, especially at an altitude of nearly 4000 meters. You lose your breath instantly. By the way: I had forgotten to bring any sunscreen with me. Some mistakes are there to be repeated ...
Still, I had become a fan of challenging hikes and the views were incredible. That alone made all the pain well worth it! See for yourself:
An unforgettable view
The trail: basically a big pile of sh-…. sand
Water quality: amazing
Now wind, flowers and a good view
The water was clean and refreshing. Unfortunately it was too cold to swim there, but a least I peed in it.
The way back up: pure torment.
Back at the top: a llama ...
... and its baby
After a little lunch break I caught my bus back to Latacunga, packed my stuff and got ready for another bus trip: I wanted to go to my next destination, a town called Baños. And guess who was going there too? That's right, the German sisters! To get to Baños you first take a bus from Latacunga to Ambato and from there to Baños. We arrived late, around 10 pm. But Baños is a small and very touristic town so it was still safe to walk around the streets at that time. And that was the last time I had do listen to the sound of the annoying sister’s voice. Bye Bye!
3rd day: Baños
Baños is literally a hot spot for tourism in Ecuador. It's located right next to a volcano and offers an uncountable amount of travel agencies for adventure sports. I was very tired from the day before and got up late. I was going to leave Baños tonight and thus had no time for any adventure sports there. A real pity but on such a long journey you stop worrying about doing everything everywhere. At least I got to find out where Baños got its name from: there are some hot springs there, fueled by the geothermal energy of the volcano. And relaxing in the hot volcanic water the best imaginable reward after the Quilotoa hike. Lateron, walking around town and buying some groceries, I ran into Dominik again. He had just returned from a mountain bike trip around Baños. Hah! Ecuador is small.
Unfortunately I didn't take a single photo in Baños, but it's an absolutely relaxed and mellow little town where locals and tourists live together in perfect symbiosis. If you ever come to Ecuador spend a few days there!
That same night I boarded my next bus for a night ride. Departure time: 10 pm. Destination: Puerto Lopez at the Pacific Ocean, the place to be for divers and whale watchers! Read about my last days in Ecuador in my next blog entry!
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