Deserted white sand beaches, mountain air so fresh your skin tingles, jungle treks that awaken all of your senses, cuisines and experiences to satisfy any culture vulture, and a feast of eye candy to tame all your travel cravings. This is part of a series of travel related posts designed to feed your soul with unique, magic-filled destinations you just need to know about!
FEED ME: The Quilotoa Loop
To explore a mountain range as rich as the Andes on foot is one thing. But to do it without a guide and nothing more than a dodgy drawing resembling a map and the occasional point in the right direction from a local farmer, is another. The Quilotoa Loop is an unmarked, rough collection of trails which connect a group of small, remote Andean villages in central Ecuador, one of the villages being Quilotoa itself. Quilotoa is the home of the Quilotoa Lagoon - a dormant volcano rising to 3800m with a stunning lake residing in it's crater. For many hikers, this crater lake acts as a final pit stop, or a reward if you like, after a multi-day hike through the neighbouring villages and breathtaking mountainous countryside. Where you begin on the loop is your call. With over 200km of trail, you could spend days or weeks trailblazing through this rugged landscape. With a few days up our sleeve, we joined the loop in the small town of Isinlivi, with a two day hike planned through to Chugchilan and then finally onto Quilotoa, covering 23km and ascending 1000m in elevation.
If crisp mountain air, rich Andean culture and a good challenge is your cuppa tea, here's what the loop has in store for you..
Here your only passers-by are the smiling indigenous locals, whose hands tell a story none of us could even fathom. Llamas eye ball you from their hillside home. Wafts of local delicacies follow you as you pass by the street vendors of the only village on your hike - think 'cuy' (guinea pig) and cheesy, potato cakes. Big family breakfasts at the local hostel where they make their own bread and yoghurt, and share with you their coconut quinoa granola to fuel you up before a big day of hiking ahead.
Stony riverbanks and log bridges. Faded trails that have you feeling off the beaten track and on your very own wild adventure. Earth cliffs and canyons. Enough eucalyptus trees to have you singing Waltzing Matilda in your head (or out loud, no-one can hear you!). And finally, as you stand on what feels like the top of the world, the ever still, crystal blue mass beneath pulls you back to the here, the now, the only time that matters...And you remember what it feels like to truly be alive!
I hope this post gave you that extra nudge to get outdoors and explore the beautiful nature that surrounds you! Liked this post? Want to see more travel related posts on FEED ME? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below, or feel free to spread the word and share this post on Facebook using the share buttons below!