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Wanderlust Wednesday: Travel Junkie’s Guide To Hiking The Quilotoa Loop

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

The Quilotoa loop is a hike in Ecuador that spans across the Cotopaxi province.  It is a relatively easy hike and you can even find families along the way.  The highlight of the trek is reaching the lake hidden beneath an extinct volcano, but you can also alternate and start at the lake and make your way backwards.  The indigenous people of the region believe that there are mystical powers from the bottomless lake.

  1. Expect to get lost

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

The route to Quilotoa is not very well marked, although this is quickly changing as it becomes more popular; but still expect to get lost.  It is inevitable, don’t lose faith if you do get lost and enjoy the detours in the meantime.  Try your best to plan your route, but be prepared to have to improvise.  At each of your stops speak to other hikers, passersby and the lodging staff.  Everyone will have something to offer or tips for what to do or avoid.  Also, remember that you don’t have to follow the traditional route, you can also start at the lake and make your way back.  The indigenous people that you will encounter along the way mean well, but they may expect something in return for directing you.  Be prepared to ask if they expect something for showing you the way if you are not willing to offer money or food in return.

2. Pack layers

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

If you are taking the route towards the lake you will find the closer you get the colder you will get.  Make sure you have layers.  The nights can get quite cold, despite the heat that you may feel in the day.  Also, when you’re at the top of the crater looking over the lake, you will be battling quite a bit with the wind, which can be quite fierce.  Make sure you are warm and have a windbreaker handy.

3. Have snacks handy

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

There are no shops or quick pit stops along the way, so make sure you are prepared with lots of snacks to keep the energy levels up.  Most of the lodgings will offer a packed lunch for the next day as well as breakfast and dinner, but if make sure you have some other good stuff to keep you going in between and lots of water.  There are no real water stops along the way so make sure you have enough to get you through.

4. Don’t forget to look back

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

The whole way along Quilotoa is such incredible landscape.  Sometimes it is easy to forget that there is such incredible scenery along the way.  Breathe and take time to enjoy every part of your journey.  So look back, in fact look all around!

5. Take joy in the unexpected

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Photo Credit: Antony Scott

As the loop is still a relatively new allure to travellers, it is still on the off beaten track.  The maps are drawn with illustrations of natural landmarks.  You will have to cross rivers on fallen trees or find alternate routes because the way has changed from a sandslide.  Be careful of the elements, nature is incredibly beautiful to behold but it can be very dangerous as well.  There are no buses that go around the loop, so getting around can be tricky.  You will have to get milk trucks or vans to the start the loop, so embrace the fact that you may be sharing a ride with containers of milk.  It is probably one of the best things about hiking the loop, the unexpected.

Today’s Wanderlust Wednesday feature was by guest writer Michelle Lockwood.

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Originally from the Cayman Islands, Michelle has grown with a passion for the local environment.  From preserving the history and culture to the local sustainable management of the environment that we live in.  After taking a course in University of the environment and legal management of it, Michelle has become a more active member in the community helping with the Save Cayman initiative.  She also has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Law from the University of Sydney, Australia.  More recently Michelle has been dedicating her time to yoga and the power that she receives from breath control and the presence required for a yoga practice.  You can usually find her in the sea on weekends.

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