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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Self-Made Tour Group

ECUADOR | Monday, 5 November 2007 | Views [1017]

I had been corresponding with a guy (Hemal) on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, a great resource and networking internet site for travelers.  He and his wife are also interested in doing a trek in the Quilotoa Loop.  We decided to try to meet up at the bus station to catch the four hour local bus to a small hill town called Chugchilán.  We easily met up, the only four gringos hanging out so early.  So we all decide to venture out on our own as a small group, without a pricey tour (which costs ranged from $100/pp - $220/pp).  We figured we will have more fun and adventure doing it ourselves and for a fraction of the cost the tour companies charge.

Our rickety bus winds through hairpin turns, curves the entire four hours, and Darrin takes an emergency motion sickness pill before I nearly have to call the driver's co-pilot for the dreaded "black plastic puke bag."  We pass through the little villages of Sigchos and Saquisilí.  We finally creep over the steep drop off cliff mountain sides (memories of sketchy Laos bus rides come flashing back) and safely arrive to this tiny town.  We check into our all too cute chalet that has a small wood burning stove and killer view of the mountains.  We opted to stay at this place, Mama Hilda's, the midrange of three hostals, where we are served breakfast and dinner.  There are no other places for meals, so we're kind of stuck.  Our friends Hemal and Aarti were staying next door at a place that they had pre-booked, The Cloud Forest Hostel, for half the price.  We discovered later that they had made the better choice, as Mama Hilda served very tiny meals, and also had no water available, which meant not just no showers, but no flushing toilets.

We commiserate with two Swiss friends we met at Mama Hilda's, Sandy and Laurie, and plot out our next day's activities, and arranged for a truck driver to take all 6 of us to the volcano crater in the morning.  Bundled up in 6 wool blankets, we tucked ourselves into bed, but had trouble sleeping in the cold, and at a high altitude as we found ourselves gasping for air, and waking up every hour.

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