Day 8: Descent to Quilotoa Crater Lake at 3.800m
After only one night in lively Banos we started into the “volcano part” of our trip. Actually this section had stared already with our arrival to Banos, yet it was too foggy to realize that Banos is located right next to the 5.036 m high and currently active volcano Tunguragua. The day was so clear that during the full trip to Quilotoa we had a perfect and for the season untypical view on the surrounding 5.000+ m snow covered volcanoes most important to mention the Cotopaxi (our destination of tomorrow) as well as the Chimborazo – both of which we would be trekking on during the next days.
Gabriel explained the two fundamentally different types of volcanoes one being the beides volcano (Schichtvulkan) with a upside down funnel shape and a small caldera, compared to the shield volcano (Schildvulkan) being more flat in the shape of an upside down soup plate (the name actually was derived from the form of the roman shields).
The bus ride was quite long and so we saw several smaller and bigger towns along the way out of which for example Pelileo, famous for its fabric and jeans production is worthy to mention. Surprisingly Ecuador also has local car and bus assembly plants (motors being imported though) from brands like Mazda or General Motors for example.
Our trip actually went along the Panamericana which crosses both American continents from North Alaska until Ushuaia in Argentina – int total a distance of 18.000 km. In South America the Panamericana mainly goes along the pacific coast, with 1.100 km going through Ecuador right through the Andeans. The size also varies and we could se sections from 2 to 8 lanes.
On our way to Quilotoa we also Passed by the 5.263 m high volcano Illinitza located on the western chain of the Andeans. Our tour was shortly stopped due to some heavy street construction work near before we reached our destination at early afternoon.
Quilotoa’s caldera has an elevation of 3.800 m from where you had a great view on the huge greenish crater lake. We had the option to take one of two tours: either take a circling walk on the caldera (which you could only partly circle as the whole round trip would take about 6 hours) or a 300 m descent down to the lake, with the possibility to return with a donkey. As most I chose the second option and the trip, was an excitement – mainly of course because of the donkey return, as the animals seemed to have partly suicidal emotions, when waling super close to some of the cliffs along the way…