Equator Gringos

January 12, 2009

Quilotoa Loop & Blacksheep Inn

Filed under: Ecuador — lstollin @ 8:04 pm


We’re backin’ up now… to November of 2008.  We’re dying to show you our Winter Break pics (hint – there’s a canal there), but we should probably catch up on fall trips first, before we forget. 

Our friend Beth Rogers and her boyfriend Shawn invited us to go with them for a long weekend to a remote part of highland Ecuador.  We’d been hearing about the Blacksheep Inn, an award-winning sustainable ecolodge, ever since arriving in Ecuador.  Ron Mader, who runs Planeta.com and specializes in eco-tourism, told me that it’s one of the best in the world.  This trip is a giant counterclockwise driving loop that’s positively spectacular. The mountains are tremendous, and covered top to bottom with patchwork quilts of farmland. The mostly dirt and cobblestone road snakes from ridge to valley along precipitous drop-offs, leading to a serious conundrum: should Joy drive and scare herself to death going 15 miles an hour (turning the 6-hour drive into a 12-hour drive), or let Luke drive and scare everyone to death going 50 miles an hour (turning the 6 hour drive into a 4 ½-hour drive)?  The creative compromise? Joy took herbal tranquilizers to survive Luke’s driving; resized-IMG_2948Shawn and Beth just held on tight.

resized-IMG_3030Blacksheep Inn consists of an assortment of beautiful buildings all up and down a steep hillside (the driveway is four-wheel-drive only), with commanding views across a giant valley. Toilets are of the composting variety (but don’t stink at all), some of the water is harvested rainwater, and each room has a great little woodstove that heats up the room in minutes.  Dinner and breakfast are delectable, vegetarian.

The scenic highlight of the loop is the namesake crater lake, Laguna Quilotoa.  Amazingly, this lake was formed by a giant eruption relatively recently (February 4, 1797 to be precise!).  One day we hiked for about seven hours from the edge of the crater back to Blacksheep Inn: the first thirty minutes were along the rim of the crater. Five and a half hours were various angles of downhill; the last hour was straight up.  There’s no describing the views and the immense scale of the Andean landscape.  It was simply spectacular.



  1. This place looks absolutely fantastic – thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Bettye Kelso — January 15, 2009 @ 3:26 am

  2. Great to hear you finally made the visit to Black Sheep Inn!

    Comment by Ron Mader — June 23, 2009 @ 2:16 am

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