A Long Weekend in Quito
One of the great advantages of Ecuador is that while it is such a small country, there is an incredibly diverse set of places to visit. The most visited spot for my friends and I on long weekends is Quito, in part because it is one of the closest options (only eight hours by bus!) So, a few weeks ago when we had a long weekend for International Workers' Day, we made the trip down to Ecuador's capital.
Quito's Bohemian Charm
On the first day of our trip, some friends and I took the opportunity to visit Guápulo and the historic Old Town neighborhoods, two of my favorites in the city. Guápulo is somewhat of a Bohemian neighborhood that boasts stunning views of the nature that surrounds the city while the Old Town neighborhood is a tourist hotspot with great options for typical Ecuadorian food and drink as well as picturesque colonial architecture.
Day Trips Outside the City
The rest of the weekend took us on a couple of day trips outside of the city. First we hopped on the recently renovated train tracks to visit one of the climbers' refuges on the Cotopaxi Volcano, the second highest peak in Ecuador. This is a very popular activity for locals and tourists alike, and we were told when we got there that you need to reserve tickets generally a month in advance. Fortunately, while we were in the office, a group of seven people canceled their reservation at the last minute, and since we were exactly seven, we took their tickets and were able to take the trip. But unfortunately, we picked a cloudy day to travel and didn't get to see much of the volcano. However, the train ride was still great and we got to do some hiking around the refuge, so it was still a successful trip.
The next day we headed to Cuicocha (directly translated from the indigenous language of Kichwa as Guinea Pig Lagoon), which was a beautiful crater lake at the base of the Cotacachi Volcano. We took a short boat trip around the lake and the small island in its center, which we were told is inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including different types of birds and fish, and at one time, even by a bear.
On Sunday we headed back to Lago Agrio, where a week of challenging yet rewarding work awaited me at Asylum Access Ecuador.