Pululahua crater hike
After visiting Mitad del Mundo this morning, I continued down the road, to the nearby volcano crater of Pululahua. This is a giant volcano, that's been inactive (although it's not extinct!) for several thousand years, and that has a massive crater floor which is filled with populated farmlands. Great lookout at the top of the crater, and it's great to walk down to the bottom, and to hike around through the countryside on the crater floor. Just a quick little day hike (I spent about 3 or 4 hours doing it — up to you how long you want to spend at the bottom), but fun and very scenic.
View of Pululahua crater floor, from the lookout at the top.
Pululahua is just a short bus-trip-and-walk up the road from Mitad del Mundo, so if you're in the area, you may as well go and see it. From the main road, only took me about 20 minutes to get to the lookout, from where you have a stunning panorama of the crater in its entirety. The lookout is quite crowded with tourists (most of whom are local families, from Quito), but the crater floor is almost empty. Since there's a paved road all the way to the lookout, a lot of people just drive up in their cars, and then drive back down. The majority of such people are not inclined to go on a long hike — so if you venture down, you get away from the crowds.
Took me less than ½ an hour to descend the path down the cliffs, into the crater floor. From there, I wandered through the dusty roads in the crater — roads that snake in-between people's private farms — for maybe 2 hours, before making the journey back up to the lookout. There's a big hostel and restaurant in one corner of the valley, but it looked a bit too touristy and too upmarket for me, so I avoided it. It's nice and serene inside the valley, and the few local people and fellow tourists that you bump into are friendly and easy-going.
Road through the valley floor.
The upmarket tourist complex in the valley floor.
Looking towards an opening in the valley walls.
When I climbed back out of the crater, a thick mass of clouds came drifting in, and completely covered the crater floor, as well as racing up and over the valley walls. Lucky I came early, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to see much.
Clouds racing into the crater.
After the crater, I didn't have much left to see around here. So I grabbed some lunch (a lady was cooking chicken and potatoes by the side of the road), and then headed back to Quito. Not the most exciting Sunday of my life, but I saw some of the local sights, and it was a very relaxed way to go and explore.