To bus ($10 US - taxi...after Bogota we've gotten gun shy of buses when it comes to connecting w/ Terminals, ha!). Sur station (this place is bigger/better than most airports we've been in!) by 8:45am lvg for Latacunga ($1.50) arr at 10:30 then another lvg at noon for Sumbahra Chugchilan getting there mid-afternoon.
Countryside beautiful green, sky overcast, temp cool. I've noticed in Ecuador lots of partially completed bldgs (businesses, homes, apts???), also, alot of road construction similar to Colombia. Drivers in Colombia had a speed limit and were always watching and warning each other of police (drivers have hand signals they give to drivers heading towards them - wish I knew what they all mean but one is warning of police). Here in Ecuador apparently nothing like speed limit exists since drivers go like a bat out of hell! The agriculture is similar in both countries - lots of grazing, many plots of veggies, cabbage, carrot, strawberries, plus hectares (2.2 acres) of plots of potatoes and onions. Getting more into indigenous peoples, women w/ long colorful dresses, felt hats - short brim -, shawls. I find in many places we've been, if there is any distinguishing dress, most often the women wear it. Men often do not have special clothing, altho in Colombia & Ecuador the men often in countryside wear special hats (white Panama style & short brim felt, respectively) &/or tall black rubber boots.
Housing in N. of Ecuador: brick & bamboo/mud w/ stucco...here (from Latacunga) cmt block and stucco or nothing covering block. Very plain housing in poor countryside dwellings...even some just grass thatch, walls and roof for indigenous peoples in countryside.
Road to Chugchilan was only paved a short distance until we began a climb further into the Andes. Then it turned into a single lane, twisting curving, up-and-down, gravel/sand/rocky worse than Forest Service road. The driver obviously knows it well, we enjoyed a fantastic ride overlooking deep, steep valleys of green, patchwork plots in seemingly every direction. The few small villages were tucked into little flat spots, tucked into the mtn sides. Lots of indigenous folks on bus disembarked in many, very seemingly remote spots, altho we saw 'houses'/huts spread out all up and down the slopes. We saw alpaca, goats, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens...plus, corn, wheat, potatoes (harvest time now), onions (also, harvesting),lupine, berries, elderberry bushes, and squash vines all along the way.
From Travel Guide:
"Sitting high to the west between Sigchos and Quilotoa, tiny Chugchilán is a real Andean gem with friendly locals, stunning scenery, hikes into plummeting canyons, primary cloud forests, cheese factories and some of the homiest accommodations in Ecuador. Chugchilán should not be missed.
Chugchilán landed on the map because of a few fantastic hostels, and its popularity as a base for exploring the area continues to rise. Built into the mountainsides and overlooking the impressive Río Toachi canyon, the village is one of those places where people pass through and end up staying for days. There are three excellent lodges at the end of town, each with its own warm touches and all offering hearty home-cooked meals, horseback riding trips, local transportation and hiking information.
The town itself consists of a small basketball court in front of a church with a few simple houses that also serve as local businesses, which sell ice cream or sew saddles. A street stall or two dish out simple meat and rice plates in the evenings, catering to locals and also serving as the town hangout. Don’t be fooled by the sign "Pension Popular Diocesana" next to the church - the old building is not a hostel! Hostels and most things of interest to tourists can be found heading down the hill just outside of town."
Other places nearby Chugchilán: Isinliví, Tigua, Pujili, Quilotoa, Zumbahua, Sigchos, Saquisilí
"Hiking from Quilotoa to Chugchilán
This 7.5 mile trek is one of the most astonishingly beautiful day hikes in Ecuador. The hike takes approximately 5 hours, andtakes youpast Quilotoa’s volcanic crater lake, down into the valley ..."
End up at Hostel Mama Hilda w/ Martin & Monica from Switzerland. Dbl w/ shared bath and 2 meals, $17 US pp.
Day trip w/ Martin & Monica to Laguna Quilotoa, inactive volcano/lake which last erupted in 1794 creating the lake. See pics. We hired a private car thru the hostel for our day trip.