Another day starts in the village El Chaupi in between the mountains of the Ecuadorian Andes. The breakfast is served at 7:30 am in the Café & Hostel Andes Alpes – today scrambled eggs, homemade bread and hot chocolate. At 8 we are heading with Siew, our mountaineer from Malaysia, towards the Quilotoa lagoon.
The Quilotoa lagoon is the water filled caldera of the active volcano Quilotoa. It was formed over 600 years ago and is more than 250 m deep! It is located at 3128 m above sea-level. There are several opportunities to hike at the Quilotoa lagoon. For example, there are some multi-day hikes from village to village, that are passing by the lagoon, as well as a 12 km long path around the lagoon, which has a diameter of 3 km.
We are entering the area from southwest, where there is a 1,7 km long path from the edge of the crater (3885 m) down to the water front. It is a cloudy and windy day but the view of the lagoon is amazing.
The path is sandy and steep, but easy to find. It’s approximately half an hour to go down, where it is less windy and we can even find a small beach to take a break and enjoy the view. It is also possible to rent Kayaks and paddle along the shore or even to the other side of the lagoon.
The way back up takes about one hour, because although quite well acclimatized from the 4 volcano summits before, you still feel the altitude. For less experienced hikers it is also possible to ascend on the back of a horse.
After the ascent we strengthen ourselves with a typical Ecuadorian lunch in one of the restaurants right beside the lagoon.
On our way back we take a break in Tigua, where we can marvel at the artwork of Julio Toaquiza, who fabricates traditional masks and paints mountain landscapes as well as the daily life of indigenous communities to preserve the tradition of small Andean villages.
Finally it clears up and we have a great view on some of the most important Ecuadorian mountains: The Altar (5319 m), one of the technical most difficult summits, the Cotopaxi (5897 m), an impressive and illustrious sight, as well as the Chimborazo, which was unable to climb yesterday due to bad weather. Seems like Bryan and Siew are getting another try!