Needing a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Quito, I opted to escape to the mountains for a few days. After a bit of research, the difficult to reach village of Chugchilan piqued my interest. After getting dropped off at a “bus stop” on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, I ended up hitchhiking the final 30 minutes to Chugchilan before quickly nestling into my cozy cabin at Black Sheep Inn.
Over the next few days, the mountains and farms of this remote region of Ecuador were my home. My treks took me across beautiful environments where oftentimes, my only companions were the curious farm animals I would stumble into along the way. The highlight was the journey to Laguna del Quilotoa and back, an otherworldly turquoise lake inside a volcanic crater.
Home Base: Black Sheep Inn
I stayed at the Black Sheep Inn’s bunkhouse, a dorm-style accommodation with three stories and 2-4 beds on each floor. I had it to myself for most of the time while I was there. Although a bit pricier than typical hostel accommodation, it included all meals as well as free yoga classes and free snacks and drinks throughout the day. It’s also always worth shelling a bit more money out for an eco-lodge that was committed entirely to sustainable travel.
This was a short 60-90 minute hike to the ridge situated above Black Sheep Inn and the farms surrounding the area. At golden hour, nothing could compare to the various ways the sun cut through the mountains and clouds. It was as serene of a walk as one could imagine.
Laguna del Quilotoa
This is the main draw for travelers going to this region of Ecuador. While the town of Quilotoa itself is directly next to the laguna, I opted to stay in Chugchilan to get away from the crowds of tourists. The day trek from Quilotoa to Chugchilan or vice versa is widely considered to be among the best day treks in all of Ecuador.