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We left for Quilotoa as a herd of people arrived to party at the Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Our minivan had two stops scheduled, Latacunga and Baños. Danielle, Kenny and I planned on spending one night in Latacunga before heading to the Lagoon. The rest of the van was headed directly to Baños.

Latacunga had very little to offer. A quick stroll around the main plaza showed us most of what the city had to offer. Like many small towns, it’s governmental offices are lodged in beautiful colonial style buildings surrounding yet another square.

But we were not there to look at buildings.

Back in Cotopaxi, a bunch of Kiwis mentioned a restaurant that was a must if/when in Latacunga. Their sentiments about this place were quite strong, clearly, we had to try it. El Gringo y la Gorda is set right off the main plaza. After a massive sandwich and nachos, we were off to bed.

The Quilotoa Lagoon is set about 80KM west of Latacunga. To reach it, we took a bus from the Latacunga bus terminal directly to it.

As we arrived, it was clear that tourism has been booming over the last few years, and a plethora of little hostels and hospedajes have been set up only a mere footsteps away from both the path leading down to the lagoon and the beginning/end of the Quilotoa loop.

We literally chose the first on we saw as we got off the bus and were happily surprised. For $10USD/per person, we had a private room with two double beds, a bathroom and breakfast was included. After we had dropped our bags off in the room, it was time for lunch and like most of Ecuador, the local/not so great fare was the only thing available.

The hike down to the lagoon took about 30 minutes. The man-made sandy/dusty path zigzags all the way to down to where a handful of guys were diligently cutting wood and building what (at the time of our visit) seemed to be a dock. We walked around as other tourists rented the overpriced Kayaks and lounged about on the sand. We wanted to reward ourselves with beer but as the Lagoon is part of a National Park, the sale of alcohol is prohibited.

The way up was not the easiest of tasks. The warm afternoon sun and the altitude made it a bit of a challenge. Based on what we heard from other tourists, we made good time hiking back up.

We spent the evening chatting over pizza at the restaurant next to our hostel. The temperature dropped considerably as the sun went down and sitting next to the old-style furnace seemed like a great idea. We were in bed by 9:30, enough time to rest before walking around the lagoon in the morning.

Breakfast was served from 6:30 till 9. We set off at 8 for the 10K loop around the lake. The views from the outer rim were fantastic and reaching the highest points (~3900 Meters) was extremely rewarding.
Although the path was well marked, there were several places where it diverged. We were told by an elderly local lady that our guide, an Akita/Husky mix dog, would show us the way. And true to her promise, he did not fail to show us which way to go.

We made it back right on the 4-hour mark. And while waiting for our bus, we made friends with a group Irish girls and some youngs lads from the UK. After waiting for close to an hour, we hired a pick-up to take all 20 of us to Zumbahua, where busses to Latacunga ran more often. 2 hours later and we were back at the hostel in Latacunga thinking about heading back to El Gringo y La Gorda for one more meal.

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