I’ve been to many quiet places when travelling. Peaceful places to gather my thoughts, to be in awe of my surrounds, to reflect, to relax and be in a mode of tranquillity. Los Roques in Venezuela, Minca in Colombia, Pai in Thailand, Phu Qoc in Vietnam, Northumberland Monestry in England – the list goes on. I think we need these places in our lives, to forget the rat race, the pressures of society, the hustle bustle of everyday life. Well, since being in Ecuador, I can now add one other destination to that list, and it makes it high on that list also. Lake Quilatoa.
This place was, when I visited, incredibly quiet. The sheer titanic size of this lake in a crater was huge, too big for me to get all angles inside a photo shot from a distance. I had been feeling a little under the weather from the change in temperature coming to Ecuador, being high above sea level, the cold hit me and had me feeling run down. Maybe the altitude increase also. However, when I got out of the jeep, to the viewpoint, I looked down in complete awe of this place. Only that awe-like feeling you get on certain occasions. I’m talking similar to Taj Mahal, India awe. Pure respect for what you are seeing, in amazement and gasping for words at what beauty is infront of your eyes. That feeling of being in awe is special. You can’t pay for that, you can’t plan to feel like that, it doesn’t come often but when it does, everything seems numb, peaceful. Your mind goes peaceful, your body relaxed, it’s almost like a temporary form of meditation.
The logistics of my trip were pretty simple, so I’ll lay them out now. It took us 3 hours via jeep tour to get there. We had many amazing natural viewpoints and sites along the way, including a mini canyon, visiting an indigenous family and some cliff edge scenery.
Incredible really. Nothing comes close to Quilatoa though, nowhere near. You begin at the top of the crater, hike down which takes about 20-30 minutes. Stopping off at every angle possible for a unique and different shot was fun. Every angle never disappointed for a great picture. Reaching the bottom, I had never felt so much peace in a long time. Just nothing. Being in such a large natural infrastructure, or anything of that size, you expect noise, you expect more people, but this was very much not the case. And thankfully too. The lake didn’t make a noise, no currents, there was no wind, it was like being in a bubble. To experience that for however long was really something that makes you appreciate being back into nature, being away from it all, just admiring what mother earth brings. For me, my experience there was of peace, to appreciate what was around us, just to feel something different. Take the pictures, take it all in. No real picture does it justice though, you have to be there, feel your journey, the surroundings, feel the silence.
I decided to Kayak to the centre peacefully, trying to add or take in every bit of this wonder. I wanted to connect further with it, so I felt that getting into the middle of the lake, would give me more of an establishment with this volcano. The lake was huge, I mean endless. I could only Kayak to the centre before turning back. Looking at the place from that low down in the centre, you really do get an appreciation for how big it was. It was tiring to perceive the size of the place, it was that big. The lake, from a distance looking a wonderful light turquoise colour, no boats or any man-made creation adding to the effect, just undisturbed, left alone, natural lake salt water. Perfectly shaped by nature.
The hike back up, vertically was tough, but with this kind of site, you cannot see it without some sort of physical sacrifice. Reaching the top after 45 minutes, sweating, out of breathe, I turned my wet head to the right for one last look at this wonder. And from then, I realised, that as a natural wonder, one of the best things I’ve ever seen. It’s funny, how in this life, there is technology, lots of new materialistic things we can have for our own comforts. Yet, the things we normally crave for, especially travellers, is to get back to nature. We are hidden from it in most places nowadays, big cities, industrial towns are becoming bigger. We are becoming distant from our natural lands and original beds.
But days like this, visiting Quilatoa, just give you every more desire to visit more natural phenomenons like this for aslong as you live.