Laguna Quilotoa is a water filled volcanic crater located in the backcountry of the Cotopaxi province of Ecuador.  To get to it, you must travel all or some portion of the Quitoloa Loop, a ring of small towns and villages populated mostly by Ecuador’s indigenous people with their centuries old way of life.  Bus travel is infrequent in many portions of the loop so it takes some planning to get around.  We began by traveling from Banos to Latacunga, which is sort of a gateway to the Quilotoa Loop.  We spent one night at Hostel Tiana in Latacunga and then put what we would need to take with us in our backpack and stored our luggage at the hostel.

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IMG_7327 Stitch

Banos doesn’t have the charm of the Spanish colonial architecture that you find in much larger Quito and Cuenca, but it does have charm and it knows it.  Oh, I don’t mean that in the way that the town gives the impression of being snobbish or of being too enamored with itself.  Clearly, it knows that it has a lot to offer and that travelers enjoy coming to sample its charms.  The town and its people make a great effort to present itself as very welcoming and with a simple appeal for its guests.

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Ingaprica RuinsFebruary 19, 2011.  Ecuador’s best preserved archeological site dates from the brief period when the Incas and the indigenous Canari co-existed here at Ingapirca for only about 30 years around 1500AD.  They battled for several years before agreeing to share the site but their peaceful reign was ended by the arrival of the Spanish who ultimately mostly dismantled the structures and used the stone to build nearby cities.

Signs point to pits called colcas that were used to store food and to acllahuasi, which is where the ceremonial and ultimately sacrificial virgins lived.  The trapezoidal niches are identical to those found in other ruins, such as Machu Picchu in Peru. Continue reading

Pumapungo–Banco Central Museum


February 16, 2011.  Getting caught up on our time in Cuenca, considered to be the most important museum in Cuenca, the Banco Central Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the ancient Inca residents of the valley where Cuenca now sits as well as dioramas depicting the typical life of the early inhabitants of the various regions of Ecuador.  We were not allowed to take photos inside the museum, however, no such restriction for the ruins. Continue reading