On Flashback Fridays I reflect back on some previous travels and travel mishaps before I started this blog. Follow at #FlashbackFri.
When we visited Ecuador a few years ago we also visited the amazing Quilotoa, a crater lake and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. After a bumpy ride in the boot of a battered pick up truck that had clearly seen better days, we reached the small village at Quilotoa, where we stayed in a simple, but cozy hostel for a couple of days.

Once we survived an incredible cold night in the hostel (we had a wood burner oven in the room, but once the fire went out in the middle of the night it was freezing again), we had a hearty breakfast, some much needed hot coffee and then trekked down to the Quilotoa crater lake. The hike down to the lake only took about 40 minutes, but it was quite sandy so I lost my footing a few times. The views were just incredible though. We even saw the peak of the mighty Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador’s highest peak. Fun fact for the day: although Chimborazo is not the world’s tallest peak, its summit is the point farthest from the Earth’s center due to the equatorial bulge. Because of the bulge, the summit of a peak lying along the equator is farther from the center of the Earth than the summit of an equally high peak at a higher latitude.

girls at quilotoatrekking down quilotoaquilotoachimbarazu volcanoThe Quilotoa lake itself is beautiful too. The color of the lake is emerald green and when the sun is shining it reflects on the water like thousand little stars.

quilotoa 4quilotoa lake

As my body was a bit bruised from our hiking adventure to Cotopaxi a few days earlier (yes, I had altitude sickness AGAIN), I decided that I have done enough hiking and hired a mule for the way back. I know, I know, that is incredibly lazy, but since the lake is at almost 4000m even something simple such as lifting a camera is exhausting. So that’s my excuse! A few fellow travelers decided to follow suit and so we rode up to the top of Quilotoa on the back of a donkey for a terrifying 30 minutes or so. As mentioned earlier the ground was quite slippery and my mule had a little baby that decided to tag along with us. While it was incredibly cute it didn’t really help to ease the ascent as it was always walking in front of his mother, which made it impossible for her to walk properly, and she ended up close to the cliff (too close for comfort!) a number of times. I saw my life flashing before my eyes a few times, but we eventually made it to the top again.

me on donkey at quilotoame on donkey with baby donkey quilotoa

There was not much else to do in the village, so we bought a few cans of beer, sat outside of our hostel and enjoyed the last bit of sunshine, before the cold would force us inside again. After a while we saw a lonely mule roaming down the street, which seemed a bit unusual, as it still had a bridle attached to its head. There was no-one to be seen though, and the mule was slowly but surely making its way outside of the village. We didn’t want to let it run away, but what do you do with a mule? Chris decided that the mule might quite like to go for a walk, so he walked it through the village until we finally saw the owner, who was quite bemused that a foreigner looked after her runaway mule  so well.

chris with donkey at quilotoa

So this was the day we found a mule. What is your weirdest travel experience? Tell me in the comments section below.


About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

47 Thoughts on “Flashback Friday: The day we found a mule at Quilotoa

  1. Love the last picture! I really wish I could have done more hiking when I was in Ecuador, but getting hopelessly lost on a mountain just about did me in for awhile ;-P Looks like a very rewarding trip!
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    • Tammyonthemove on August 26, 2013 at 9:06 am said:

      Thanks Casey! Ecuador is gorgeous for hiking, but the altitude can be quite tough I found. Oh dear, getting lost on a mountain is no fun. We have been there before too. If we are hiking outside of the UK we usually hire a guide. Much safer!

  2. I was very tempted by the offer of a mule too! That was one hard slog climbing back out of there!!! Amazing that it can take so little time going down to the lake and well over an hour struggling back out 🙂
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  3. I really want to go to South America! Great story and pics!

  4. This is what I love about South America.
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  5. Thesse pictures were amazing and Quilotoa lake is splitting replica of Crater Lake in Oregon, USA!!
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  6. thanks a lot for sharing those wonderful shots. i always wish to go there… is beautiful .. especially the people there are friendly the scenary is superb.

  7. Wow this scenery is sensational!
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  8. We didn’t get to go do Quilotoa loop when we were in Ecuador – it looks so lovely!
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  9. I must go Ecuador soon. The landscape looks amazing, and I love the way locals dress!
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    • Tammyonthemove on September 9, 2013 at 8:09 am said:

      We have been to many parts of Ecuador and every part is so different. They are all so beautiful though. I loved my stay in Ecuador. You should definitely visit if you can.

  10. One of my weirdest and most eye opening experience was while on a fishing trip on the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico. We took off from my friend’s beach home in Punta Final and hoped in a boat. We were looking for whales and after maybe 10 minutes from leaving the shore, we started seeing dolphins. More dolphins started coming, I kid you not, at the peak there were over 2,000 dolphins swimming around out boat. You could see dolphins as far as the eye could see. There’s so much wild marine life in Baja its unbelievable!!
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    • Tammyonthemove on January 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm said:

      Wow, that sounds amazing. I have only ever seen river dolphins in the wild, but never sea dolphins. The ricer ones are really shy, but the sea ones are really playful from the sounds of it.

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