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Graham Williams & Louise Jones Travel Blog This is our journal logging our trip through Central and Latin America from July 2005 to the present date. We update it and add new pictures every two to three weeks. At the moment Will is travelling in South Africa, while Lou is living in Buenos Aires.For more background reading on our travels go to - http://journals.worldnomads.com/will/

Southern Colombia, Quito and Andean Trekking

ECUADOR | Tuesday, 31 January 2006 | Views [933]

Since the last update we have explored the southern part of Colombia and are now in Ecuador. From Popayan, a beautiful old university town in Colombia we took a five hour bus journey over the mountains to the small town of San Augustin. This town should be on every travelers list but due to its isolation and guerrilla problems in the past (FARC blew up the bridge there) hardly anyone goes there. The reason to make to trip is because in the beautiful surrounding countryside there are mysterious statues, many the same size and similar to those on Easter Island, but erected by an people who have been lost to history. Their only legacy are a collection of tombs and the statues which surround them.
We returned to Popayan and continued our journey to the south traveling through wonderful Andean mountain scenery to the border of Ecuador.

In Ecuador our first stop was at Otavalo, a pleasant town which has a famous Saturday market where the local indigenous people come to town to sell their handicrafts to tourists. There is a large market most days but on Saturday the stalls are spilling down all the side streets leading to the main plaza. There is also an animal market on the edge of the town where the locals parade their cows, sheep and pigs in front of buyers. Small black pigs are dragged off on ropes to be fattened up and the pig market certainly seemed to where most of the action was.

From Otavalo it was a short run to Quito the sprawling capital. To our surprise its a nice place and very much geared up for tourists. In fact seeing tourists is a big surprise as we hadnt seen many in Colombia, now we hear British and American accents all the time. Its a good place to get things done.

We have made one trip out of Quito so far, to go trekking in the Quilatoa region, two hours to the south. After another epic bus ride, hanging on to corners above sheer drops, we arrived in a small village where we began a two day trek across a series of river valleys to the crater of Quilatoa. We walked through lovely countryside, most of it cultivated and stayed a eco friendly hostels which have been set up here by foreigners. Eco friendly means earth closet toilets and recycling bins in the bedrooms, plus a premium on the prices for the privilege. The local people still live pretty much as they always have, cultivating their plots of land and although the men now have western dress the women and girls still wear their traditional dress which is brightly coloured woolens and trilby hat. Unfortunately they dont like having their pictures taken.

On the second day of our trek we climbed up to the lip of the Quilatoa crater which is at 4000 meters. This huge crater is in fact an empty magma chamber into the volcano collapsed 10,000 years ago. 300 meters below the lip is a lake of bright blue water, a spectacular sight.

Now we are back in Quito, preparing for our trip to the Galapagos, where we will spend most of February.

Tags: On the Road

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