January 31st
written by Alonna

After two weeks of Spanish classes, I found three new friends to travel with for a week in Ecuador. I’ve mentioned Stephanie in previous posts; she’s from DC and quit her job to travel Ecuador and Peru for 6 weeks. Jaime and Gareth are from England and like Ben and me, are traveling around the world for a year. In fact, our paths may cross again in Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia!

Lake Quilotoa

Our first stop was Lake Quilotoa, which is a large caved-in volcano with a sulfur lake in the crater. Supposedly in sunlight the lake is a bright blue/green and very beautiful. Unfortunately, we arrived when the area was thick with fog, and although we could see the lake and we enjoyed hiking around a bit, overall it was a bit disappointing. We did catch a cool rainbow though. Also, the ride out there was really interesting. We drove on a windy road through barren high-altitude land (this is in the Andes), with indigenous huts and villages.


The four of us spent four nights in Baños, a cute touristy town in a beautiful valley in the mountains (if it sounds familiar, I went on a school trip to Baños two weeks ago). I really love this town – it’s touristy but most tourists are Ecuadorian; it’s cheap ($7.50 for a private room in the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in!), there’s an active volcano, and lots of fun activities. This trip the weather was much better. In fact, driving into town at night we were able to see the volcano, Tungurahua, spitting lava into the air (sorry, didn’t get any photos).

One day Stephanie and I took a taxi up to a ridge above Baños with great views of the volcano. You could hear the rumbling of the explosions, a couple times there were some really loud ones. We hiked across the ridge and back down into town, enjoying views of the city and the volcano.

The photos below are from “Casa del Arbol” a great place to view the volcano. Unfortunately it was completely foggy when we were there, but we could hear very loud eruptions constantly. Carlos Sanchez lives and works up here monitoring the volcano. He excitedly told us all about the volcano, past eruptions, and his work.

Later we hiked across the hillside above Baños and saw great views of the volcano eurpting.


We only had one day in Cuenca so we spent it doing touristy sightseeing activities. First, we took one of those double-decker sightseeing bus tours around the city for 2 hours. I’d never done one before, and I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. However – it was a bit dangerous since we passed under a whole bunch of low-hanging wires, which we literally had to duck down to avoid. Many people where standing up off and on to take photos, and there were some close calls. I’m not sure how they do this every day and avoid decapitating tourists.

Cuenca is a really beautiful city settled in the Andes mountains just like Quito, but with a small-town feel with warm and inviting streets. I’m glad that Ben and I will be going back for three days before heading to the Galapagos Islands.


  1. Clay

    cool! the part about the bus is funny! Have fun!

  2. Cal

    Great updates thanks Alonna, its fun to virtually “travel” with you