April 9, 2013

Getting Away from Quito for a Weekend

A lot happens last-minute in Ecuador. For example, a few days before the weekend, we were invited by friends to go away that weekend. They didn't have an exact plan, but had heard about these lakes in a national park about 5 hours away that they wanted to check out. We jumped at the chance to get out of Quito and explore an area we hadn't been to before. And it was beautiful!

The lakes are called Lagunas de Atillo and they are a chain of lakes in Sangay National Park. The park is huge in itself (and I found out, it's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Sangay has three volcanos in it: Sangay, Tunguruhua, and El Altar (you might remember I mentioned El Altar in my post here). Sangay and Tunguruhua are both active volcanoes, but we didn't see them on this trip. We went up the largest inactive volcano/mountain the next day, but I'll tell you more about that later.

We got to Lagunas de Atillo in the early afternoon and hiked down almost to the lake. It looked steep on the way down, but the ground was covered by these strong grass bushes that you could step down on easily. At first glance, it looks like it's just those bushes. But as you're walking down, you start to see different types of flowers and wildlife. I'm sad we didn't get to see Andean condors who live in this area. They can have wingspans that are 10-feet long!

After the lakes, we had a classic Ecuadorian lunch and headed to Riobamba to spend the night. More on this later.... for now, enjoy our pics!

Indigenous boy riding a horse down the road - this horse did not want to be ridden

Greg relaxing at the laguna

Waterfall above the lagunas

Here you can see the bushy grass we were stepping on