HopTriper in spite of me #1 – All in @The Black Sheep Inn

Lea is in the early stages of a lifetime of travel and exploration. After living in Costa Rica for a year, she decided to travel through Ecuador but only in accommodations that were committed to environmental and cultural awareness and respect. And guess what: she traded her skills in exchange for room and food. In a way, she already was a HopTriper.

Now back in Paris, she fortunately discovered Hopineo. After a few mails and skypes, we decided together that Lea would publish a serie of articles relating her HopTrips experiences in Ecuador. Hopineo is honored to offer these inspiring lectures to you !

Article written by Lea Denieul

Responsible travel is all about exchange!

I chose responsible travel because I believe it is possible to deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors while helping raise sensitivity to the host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.

People think it is expensive to travel responsibly, however that is a total myth. I had a budget of 250$ for a 3-month trip (plane ticket excluded). Most establishments will let you exchange your skills (whatever they may be), against food and lodging. It’s the EXCHANGE that forms the core of respectful, responsible trips.

Welcome to an eco-paradise…

I started off at the Black Sheep Inn, an eco-lodge accredited by The International Ecotourism society. It’s pretty remote: the village of Chigchilan has 100 people and got internet about 8 years ago. For this reason, the Black Sheep Inn is a day hiker’s Paradise: the Inn is perfectly situated in the middle of breathtaking high Andes beauty. The Iliniza Ecological Reserve, the Rio Toachi Canyon, and Lake Quilotoa are all easy to hike from the front door.

What is more the inn is 100% community operated, collects rainwater, recycles, only serves local grown vegetarian food and has the most beautiful composting toilets I have ever seen. Get ready to sit back and relax in an actual greenhouse: it’s much easy to digest with a view of the mountains :-).

A 2 months HopTrip !

I ended up working there for 2 months as a mountain guide/yoga teacher/administrative assistant.

Quilotoa loop

The Most famous hike is the Quilotoa loop. It is the water filled crater of a volcano that erupted 800 years ago. The sulfur makes the water turn turquoise. In the surrounding villages you will notice that the indigenous people speak Quechua and have retained traditional clothes and spiritual beliefs. It is said that the lake has no bottom and was the lure of a great Condor who kidnapped the virgin princess Toa which gave the lake it’s name.

Quilotoa lake in Ecuador

You can hike to it from the Black Sheep Inn or back from it: it’s about 10km. You also have the option of hiking around the rim: it’s 9km and the highest peak is 3914 meters high.

You meet so many amazing people working as a tour guide!

Check out the video!

Meeting people as a tourguide in Ecuador
Quilotoa - Chugchilán hike

Quilotoa – Chugchilán

1ª Crater: Distance 3667 mts / Altitude 3856 mts ; 3722 mts

2ª To Guayama: Distance 3390 mts / Altitude 3722 mts ; 3270 mts

3ª To Chugchilán: Distance 3400 mts / Altitude 3270 mts ; 3200 mts

When it’s foggy you can go kayaking on the lake. Renting a Kayak costs 3$ for 30 minutes.

Quilotoa lake in the fog

Local drivers, local guides, horse providers, bike rental shops, and more hostels now find a home in Chugchilán. Miguel, for example will happily guide you through the cloud forest where you can see some stunning orchids.

Flowers in Ecuador, Quilotoa

Or Humberto can take you horse back riding (he got an interest-free loan from the Black Sheep so he could start his business):

Horse riding in Ecuador with the Black Sheep Inn
Others hikes and ventures

Finally, you can also venture out by yourself. Here are some recommendations and maps:

For a short Morning Hike: the Skywalk ( 4.6 km about 2hrs)

Skywalk in Ecuador with the Black Sheep Inn

My Favorite day Hike: GRAN CAÑON DEL RÍO TOACHI ( 11km about 4hrs):

hike in Rio Toachi canyon, Ecuador
Rio Toachi canyon hike

All in all, The Black sheep inn is a MUST if you are travelling through Ecuador.

Michelle and Any have contributed so much to the community (teaching, building a recycling center, giving out scholarships), it’s nice to know we as travelers can also have a positive impact.

Chugchilan is a perfect example of a town that develops economically by protecting its resources rather than exploiting them.

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