I had made a conscious decision to try and avoid Carnival in Ecuador, nothing could surely compare to the celebrations that would be taking place on the other side of the continent in Brazil?
Both Brazil and Ecuador, along with many other countries around the world, with a dominant Catholic population, observe a form of Carnival. All of these festivals seem to have originated in Catholic Italy centuries ago. The fasting period of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, was proceeded by several days of living it up. Kind of a letting it all out before behaving yourself for the 40 days leading up to Easter.
My journey on the ‘Quilotoa Loop’ began in Latacunga, which proved to be a reasonable location to spend a couple of days and a useful place to drop off my large back pack. The next few days would take in a lot of hiking so I needed to travel light. From Latacunga I took a day bus to Zumbahua, where accommodation and food options proved to be extremely basic! From Zumbahua I took a pick up truck to the ‘surreal’ town of Quilotoa.
Quilotoa had an extremely well organised Carnival taking place the day that I arrived – with lots of games, lots of alcohol, and lots of dancing. Throughout the day children and teenagers did their best to cover everyone around them with spray foam. In addition, an alarming quantity of flour was also being hurled at unsuspecting individuals.
With an elevation of 3,914 metres, Quilotoa quite often gets engulfed in cloud, making visibility extremely difficult. Whilst it is very hot in the day, it gets bitterly cold at night. My hotel had a lovely wood burner and loads of thick blankets.
Next stage: day hikes along the Quilotoa Loop.