We arose from our hostel rooms, of which there were many needed to accommodate the whole rabble, and were presented with a wholesome breakfast of Porridge, eggybread, fruit, fruit juice and coffee. All of which was prepared by the awesome breakfast team of Cliff, Josh F, Cameron and Jake. Personally I had the best night’s sleep yet which set me up nicely to begin our trek. No matter how many times you could possibly view the Quilotoa lagoon and crater it could never be enough to take it all in. The early morning views were a pleasing reward and just a five-minute walk from the hostel; certainly motivation to prepare us for the hard day’s trekking ahead.
We began (properly) hiking on a path engraved into the rim of the extinct volcano by animals and fellow travellers alike. The dirt path was dusty and thin which defiantly added to the exhilaration of the trek. Eventually all good things come to an end and for us we tore ourselves from the lagoon with memories to last a lifetime. In order to reach the next town, clearly visible from the rim of the volcano, we had to drop into and climb out of a vast canyon; a challenge we attacked with relish. After a fair amount of downhill (the best as it requires less effort) we reached our lunch stop, probably one of the best yet, although that would be somewhat biased as I helped make it with Andrew and Josh. And with the view we had across the magnificent canyon, the food seemed to taste all the better.
Crossing a canyon often results in having to cross a river at some point. Thankfully there was a makeshift bridge that got everyone across safely. (Ed. probably best I take over from here... As we approached the bridge we noticed three Belgium guys and a French girl that we had met a few times while trekking during the day. They were half way up a felled tree lying precariously against the crumbling walls of the canyon. Our guide shouted and encouraged them to descend. Only one guy took his advice as the others desperately clung onto the tree...two guys then tried to cross what looked like a vertical crumbling wall and were slipping and kicking off lumps of earth. I realised then that we needed to initiate a rescue. I got the safety rope and ran up the path, which was relatively simple, Joaquin running ahead of me, Mr McMillan coming up behind. Being at altitude I thought my lungs were going to explode as we reached the point above where the crazy people were climbing. By the time Joaquin and I reached the point the guys were up and safe; their faces a little ashen from the fright and adrenalin surge. However, the girl was stuck. Joaquin quickly undid the rope as I tied a suitable knot forming a loop which the girl just needed to place over her head. Once she had performed this task we quickly hauled her to safety. The French girl, however, rather than being frightened by the ordeal, seemed to enjoy it, whooping as we brought her to the safety of the path. I think there was a few unhappy ‘adults’ around. The guys made their excuses for such a crazy act and continued on their way to the top of the canyon.
Upon reaching the small village of Chucchilan and travelling through the settlement we welcomed the sight of Hostel Cloud Forest as meant a well-deserved hot shower! This is the nicest hostel yet, clearly indicated by the number of other guests from across the world staying and all willing to chat and offer advice. However, the ultimate feature of this hostel is the fact that it has hammocks hanging from first and second floors. Reinforcing this is amazing views of the trek we just completed cementing a sense of achievement. The ice cream Magnum, a brilliant luxury which also helps!
We are all eager for what tomorrow will entail.