Quilotoa, Baños & Montañita

We made some changes to our very relaxed itinerary (non-existent) when we decided to join our new French friends Philippa & Alex for a week…turned out to be about 3 weeks and were still together now.

Quilotoa is a volcanic crater with a lagoon in the middle. The lagoon was formed 800 years ago by a massive eruption and resulting collapse of the volcano. The lagoon is 2 miles wide and 250 metres deep. It is at 3800m above sea level. We stayed in the surrounding village Quilotoa after getting two bus rides from Quito about 4 hours away.

We decided (yet again stupidly) to do the loop on the rim of the volcano. Which apparently we have now heard that people don't normally do it in one day. Ofcourse we did. It took us just short of 5 hours and was vertical up and down climbs. Hating it at the time, it was spectacular, it's only redeeming feature!

Crazy locals (the only people we saw on the walk) carrying an oven on her back…and wearing heels!

Next stop Baños- this is the small town we visited briefly on the way to our Amazon tour, we decided it was worth a second look. Baños is based at the bottom of Tungurahua volcanoe which erupts regularly and thus makes it such a popular destination. The volcanic crator is on the opposite side to the twn and has ensured the towns relative safety from its regular eruptions.
We arrived in Baños and headed to get a cab to our hostel. We had heard that everything was fairly close so it only cost $1 to go anywhere in the town. Lucky for us the cabs are utes in Baños and Philippa and I were not passing up the opportunity to go in the back!
We spent two nights in Baños where we went to the nearby hot springs, hired quad bikes to drive up a volcanoe and walked up to hopefully see the volcano erupt at night.
We ran into some friends from Quito and met to go to the hotsprings together. With numerous hot, warm and cold pools it was a popular spot. It's definitely no peninsula hot springs though- we had to wear shower caps?
We met some more French travellers and all decided to meet up later for dinner and to walk up to see the volcano once it was dark. We walked for about 20+ minutes uphill ( some people were lucky to score a piggy back!) and were sort of over waiting for nothing to happen that after an hour or so we decided to head back leaving the others.
The next day we hired quad bikes to explore a nearby volcano. After some people struggling to get a grasp on how to use the quad and the other quad with the girls nailing it first go, we were off!

Driving the quads back into town and almost dying because everything is opposite here and one way streets with no street signs… We ran into our friends from the night before. Unbelievably, 5 minutes after we left last night the volcano erupted, and they had photos to prove it. Mother f! Ofcourse it did.

Being seriously disappointed, it was time for us to leave Baños and head to some warmer weather- Montañita.

Montañita is a surfing town holding an international surfing competition in February every year. It's a southern beach town on the Ecuadorean coast and is a popular tourist destination.

We spent most our 4 days here, lying on the beach, drinking cocktails and partying.

The boys with there manly drinks

Cute puppy at the cafe

On the weekend the street leading to the beach turned into cocktail stalls all alongside one another with an array of cheap cocktails.

It was time to keep moving so we split up from our French friends Philippa and Alex to head north along the coast to start making our way to Columbia, while the others were heading south towards Peru. Sal and I went to Canoa further north on the coast and stayed there for 2 nights.

While we were in Canoa we did some calculating of the cost, and the time we had to make it to Columbia and I also was looking at how I was going to get back to Santiago in chile to get my flight. Because we were heading north and my flight was from the south I was looking at paying $1000 to get back in time. With buses taking 5+ days straight to get down and having only 2 or so weeks left we decided it wasn't plausible. Devastated, we now had to look at what we could do further south to start making my way down by bus. We decided on Mancora which is a beachside destination in northern Peru where we could at least enjoy the beau which is what we wanted to do in Columbia. So we started busing it down the 20 hours to Mancora. We were lucky to meet some lively people on our bus. The buses over here are an experience alone, with people coming onto the bus selling hot food, drinks, nuts and all sorts of goodies. You quite often get a sales pitch that lasts 15+ minutes for nuts. God knows what he says about nuts for 15 minutes in Spanish but it works! Anyway, we had a lovely young guy seated across from us, and I started talking to him about something, I think because the bus was so old and the aircons were broken so you couldn't turn them off. And when a man came on selling hot food, and not haven eaten for 7 hours I was asking what it was, and the man kept pushing it in front of me to give it to me, and I was saying (in Spanish) no thank you I just wanted to know if it was vegetarian. Anyway I figured out the reason he was handing it to me was because the lovely guy next to us bought me one. So sweet. Then a sweet old man Infront of him handed us 2 bananas which i was stoked about, and then kept giving us more! Handing us about 10 bananas and with Sally not liking bananas I thought this is lovely but getting a bit ridiculous and put a stop to it. With our broken Spanish we chatted to them about our trip and showed them photos of some places we had been and then said goodbye. We've been so lucky on this trip and met so many amazing, kind, generous people along the way.



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