Chugchilán Things to Do Tips by MalenaN
Chugchilán Things to Do: 8 reviews and 27 photos
Hiking from Chugchilan, Ecuador
My plan for that day had not been to walk to Chugchilán but to walk around the Quilotoa crater. However it was too windy for that as the path at some points goes close to the edge and it was very dangerous. And in Quilotoa there was no electricity and no water, so I decided to walk back to Chugchilán instead.
As I had walked the opposite way, from Chugchilán to Quilotoa, both in 2011 and 2012 and also around the crater in 2011, I thought it would be an easy walk. The first part of the walk follows the crater rim for about an hour to a sandy area where you should turn downhill. Most of the time you don’t see the lagoon, but on the other hand you are protected from the strong wind if it is windy. At some parts the path splits, but it goes together later. I had not walked for very long when I came to a sandy area with pine trees. I decided to take the lower path and first thought it would unite with the other. I soon realised it continued to go slowly downhill, but I was not worried but thought I would take the first path leading uphill again, or if I didn’t find such a path I would soon turn around.
However, something happened which made it impossible for me to turn around. I passed a house and there I encountered the angriest dogs I have ever seen. Before leaving Chugchilán the day before I had heard of a tourist who had got bitten by dogs in this area and had to be taken to hospital. There were two dogs that ran up to me barking more angrily than any other dogs I had seen. I was sure they were going to bite me. I screamed angrily back at the dogs and I shouted to a girl who hid behind a house to come and get her dogs. After a while the dogs went back to the house and I started to walk slowly away (wrong direction), but the dogs came back. I had now taken up a stick and a stone which I threw towards the dogs and at the same time I shouted at them. The girl was now standing on the path looking, but not saying or doing anything. Well, luckily the dogs went back to the house and when they were out of sight I hurried down the path. It was a wide path and somewhere it would end up and as I knew the direction to Chugchilán I was not worried and sure that I would eventually find my way. Like it wasn’t enough bad luck with the dogs the path was blocked further on by several pine trees lying over it (with trunks and crowns). I realised it was too complicated for me to climb over them with my broken wrist and there was no way of going around them. A small path lead uphill (not back towards the dogs) but it ended soon at a fence. On both sides there were canyons. I saw a horse down in one canyon and went there trying to find a path to continue on. Well, it was not easy and from here I had to find my way up and down several small canyons. Finally I came to a house where there was a woman. I asked for direction to Guayamo (a village between Quilotoa and Chugchilán). She told me to follow a path all the way down to a small stream and from there I could follow a small road up to Guayamo.
I walked along the road past Guayama Grande, but there was still quite far to Guayamo. A farmer working along the road told me I didn’t have to walk all the way up to Guayamo if I was going to Chugchilán and pointed out a path I should take. The path took me to the view point above the big canyon where Chugchilán is on the other side. This is where the path from Chugchilán comes up, so now I was on the right track. From here there was a steep walk downhill and then uphill again before I reached Chugchilán.
This hike took 5h and 40min, much longer than it would have taken if I had walked the right trail.
Hiking to Chugchilan, Ecuador
In 2011 I had followed a description from Llullu Llama and I know I would have found the same way in 2012 without problems, but I had heard there was another way and was interested in taking that. I thought it would be possible to walk over the hills and cross Rio Toach by the suspension bridge. However I was told before I set out that I should not fallow the road (which goes to Guantualo), but turn to a path after crossing the stream in the valley. Well I started to walk the dirt road (last year there had just been a path) down to the stream and suddenly it just ended by a field. I crossed the field and didn’t find the proper path, but anyway I knew the direction so it was easy. Last year I hadn’t crossed the bridge here but now I did. I had been told to take a path soon after the bridge and I saw one going up on the ridge just on the other side of the bridge. I thought it was too early and walked on for a while. I took the next path and met two women and asked them about the way to Chugchilán. They told me to follow the path up to the road, and they also told me not to follow the road, but to take a path on my right. I came up to the road, but didn’t see a path. Later on I saw a small path that seemed to lead out on a field so I didn’t take it. I followed the road for a while (which I was not supposed to do) and when I saw a path and I thought I had found the right one. It turned out though, that it was just a shortcut and I came up on the road again. There was no one around to ask and when I later came to a small road turning right I took it. The road became a path and started to go down towards Río Toachi. I passed a house where both the man and woman came over to shake my hand. I asked for a bridge to cross the river and they told me to continue the path down. After a while I saw the same log-bridge I had crossed the previous year. I was not surprised as I had been going in a loop around the hill.
I crossed the log-bridge and now followed the same path as the previous year. The path follows Rio Toachi and shortly after the suspension bridge you shall take a path leading up to Itualo, a small village (there is no sign). From Itualo there is a very steep ascend to Chinalo (this part took about half an hour). From Chinalo you will follow a small dirt road that will take you up to the Chugchilan road (at this point there is now a sign pointing down the dirt road, saying "Isinliví 11.3km”). And then there is another 2km to walk. Until then it had been warm, but up on the Chugchilán road it started to be very windy and I had to put on my fleece.
I had not taken the best way in the beginning, but I got to see new sceneries. The whole hike took me 4h 15minutes. Later, when I have looked at maps I realize I could have followed the road all the way to Guantualo (it is not as far as I thought), and from there I could have followed a path down to the suspension bridge, and from there the path on t Chugchilán. It is a longer walk, but the walk I would have liked to do.
The first part of the hike is downhill
Hiking from Chugchilán to Quilotoa is quite easy to do on your own. As you can see the rim of the Quilotoa crater from Chugchilán you will know the direction. I left Chugchilán after breakfast, but before leaving a man at the hostel drew me a simple map.
With the map it was easy to find the starting point of the trail in Chugchilán. For a while you walk along a dirt road past some houses, then you should take a path. The path leads down to the bottom of the canyon, where you cross a small stream. From here it is a quite steep ascend until you come to a level surface where there is a single house where you can buy something to drink (if it is open). Then you will continue along a small dirt road up to the village Guayamo. In Guayamo you turn right and follow the road out of the village till the end of it, where you take a path going up to the rim of the crater.
To the rim of the crater it took me 3 hours. Coming up on the rim you will be rewarded by a beautiful view over the Quilotoa lagoon. If you look back there is a stunning view over the valley and Chugchilán far away. Were you reach the rim it is very sandy and I took the only path I saw. It was a small path, with flowers growing on the sides, and it was going slightly downhill into the crater. After a while I realised it must be the wrong path so I took a very steep path up to the rim again. Finally I reached a path on the rim and continued to Quilotoa. I reached Quilotoa 4 h 15 minutes after I started the walk in Chugchilán.
Chugchilán is situated at 3200 metres and Quilotoa at 3900 metres, so many people choose to start the walk in Quilotoa. I don’t mind walking uphill, and often prefer that over a steep descend.
Along the hike I only met one group of hikers and they had a guide.
Uppdate 2012: I hiked from Chugchilán to Quilotoa in July 2012 too. This year it had become even easier as they had put up signs along the way. At the starting point in Chugchilán there is a sign saying “Excursión a Quilotoa 10.2km”, and then there were several more signs along the path. Signs indicating direction and distance were not the only new thing along the path, but at some places they had put up benches and dustbins too.
I had heard already in Chugchilán that it had been terrible windy in Quilotoa the last days but had hoped that it had become less windy the day I walked there. However, when I reached the crater rim I realised that was not the case as I was almost blown away by the strong wind. Luckily a large part of the remaining trail to Quilotoa was protected from the strongest winds. Also this year it took me 4h and 15 minutes to walk from Chugchilán to Quilotoa.
I and a French couple booked a horseback riding tour and chose to take the longer tour which is 6 hours. The long tour was $15 (July 2011) and the shorter tour, which takes 4 hours, was $12. In the morning, after breakfast, our guide Bernardo was waiting with the horses and we took off. From Chugchilán we rode uphill over the mountain and then down to the cloud forest at Reserva Ecológica Los Ilinizas. The ride took two hours and along the road there were many beautiful views, the vegetation changed and there was also road work going on. They are constructing a road that will link Chugchilán with the cost.
Then we went for a walk almost for two hours in the forest, and Bernardo showed us different plants that could be used against fever, for shampoo or perfume and more. When we were leaving to go back to Chugchilán we saw how the clouds had started to come in over the mountains, as they do every afternoon.
On the way back my horse José was tired and slower than in the morning.
High above the valley
At Llullu Llama in Isinliví you can get a simple map and description of the way to Chugchilan. There are more than one way you can take, but I chose the one on the map.
After a good and big breakfast I left Isinliví at 9am. Just outside Llullu Llama the path begins and it goes down to Cumbijin Stream. There I turned right ( I did not cross the bridge here )and after a while I crossed the stream on a smaller bridge. From here the path continued above the stream. It was a bit uphill and downhill and level walking. I tried to follow the description, but was not sure all the time that I was on the right track. At one point four angry barking dogs appeared on the path. I had to go back and wait for a while, but luckily they didn’t appear when I tried to pass again. Then the path went down to Rio Toachi and I walked along the river until I came to a log-bridge where I crossed the river. Later on I passed a suspension-bridge and just after this bridge there is a path going uphill. Between the small villages Itualo and Chinalo the ascend is very, very steep. From the village Chinalo there is a small dirt road, eventually leading up to the Chugchilan road. It is a very beautiful walk and there are many stunning views along the hike.
I didn’t see many people along the way. After one hour I met three girls on a horse and a little bit later I saw a man on a horse, on the other side of the river. In the villages Itualo and Chinalo a saw a few people and also when I came up to the Chugchilan road.
On the paper with the description and map it said that the hike would take between 4h - 6h. For me it took 3h and 45 minutes until I arrived at Hostal Cloud Forest in Chugchilán. I was walking alone so I did not stop to chat with friends and I never sat down during the walk, but I stopped many times to take photos, drink water or eat some chocolate. The first day I was in Isinliví three people arrived to the hostel just after dark. They had got lost on the way from Chugchilan and therefore the hike had taken them 7h.
Isinliví is situated at 2900 metres and Chugchilan at 3200 metres.
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