Yesterday we API Call Errorbiked down API Call ErrorCotopaxi. Despite a bit of rain – including some sleet while we were at the top of our ride, just shy of 15,000 feet, it was a lot of fun with API Call Errorextraordinary API Call Errorscenery and would have made an outstanding end to our trip.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. We arrived back in Quito and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare…around 4:00, a good 3 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart. It was raining, which had never really occurred to me as a problem and I enjoyed watching the planes take off streaming water behind.
After Baños, we were ready for a quieter place. Cities and towns of all sizes here are very noisy. So we headed off on what the guidebooks describe as the Quilotoa loop, basically just a series of API Call Errormountain roads roughly making a circle through some fairly remote regions. Our destination, API Call ErrorChigchulán, was only about 80km away from Baños as the crow flies, but required about 6 hours by bus, not counting the 30 minute delay while they added branches to shore up the mudslide so it could be driven over.
We´ve been in API Call ErrorBaños for a couple of days, and have spent some of that time resting in the very nice room we found – it overlooks a lovely garden, and has plenty of hot water! Baños hasn’t quite been the town that I expected it to be – instead of being a sleepy tourist town in a quiet and beautiful mountain setting, it is a noisy, trafficy town in a API Call Errorbeautiful mountain setting. Many of the tourists here appear to be Ecuadorian – we had heard that it´s a popular weekend destination for ‘Quiteños’, and it most certainly appears to be. There are odd theme-park style trains running around the town in the evening, complete with loud theme-park music. Lots of motorbikes, quads, and dune buggies, which do look like a lot of fun, but are quite noisy. I´m kind of thinking it’s like the Ecuadorian Disneyland (it even has weird API Call ErrorDisney character heads on top of the garbage cans). It’s an interesting town, to be sure, but not the serene town I was for some odd reason expecting.
When we’d booked our flights to the Galapagos, we’d arranged to fly back into Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. While it sounds like there is a lovely riverfront promenade and some neat historical districts, Guayaquil itself wasn’t really the attraction, just where the flight lands. Mostly, we’d heard great things about Cuenca, which is a good 12 hour bus ride from Quito, but only a mere 3-1/2 from Guayaquil. Theoretically.
When we’d booked them, we’d intended to spend a night in Guayaquil and then head up into the Andes the next day, but having just had a one night stay on San Cristobal, we weren’t really up for another night of just unpacking our bags so that we could pack again. We decided that though it would make for a long day, we’d head straight through to Cuenca.
Our past few days on a boat have been fantastic. The scenery and animals have been fantastic, as has been the food and the snorkelling.
Our schedule worked out well, since the boat had gone to the Darwin centre in the morning, something we’d already done, and in the afternoon the API Call ErrorSanta Cruz highlands were on the schedule. The main attraction was the API Call Errortortoise API Call Errorsanctuary, basically just some private property that has ideal conditions and lots of food for the tortoises, but with open access to the national park. Our guide talked about how the tortoises had been decimated during the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were a popular food supply for pirates. Since the API Call Errortortoises can live for up to a year without eating, they can be a fresh source of meat when a ship doesn’t have many ports it can safely stop in for resupply. It’s estimated that about 300,000 tortoises were taken or killed during this period, and since they have such long lives – 150-200 years or so – recovering the population is a slow process.
Also on tap was a walk through a lava tube – basically just a cave, though interesting in that it was almost as perfectly regular, more like a subway tunnel than a cave.