Chugchilán to Isinliví – A Thanksgiving We Will Never Forget

Chugchilan to Isinlivi Ecuador (105)

Don’t let all the photos of vistas and rolling mountains on my Instagram fool you. I am by no means an expert hiker. Most hikes I had done leading up to this point were three, MAYBE four hours and involved a big breakfast prior, a brewery after, and were rated “easy” or “medium” on AllTrails. So when we did the six-hour hike of abrupt descents and steep climbs on loose ground with the threat of rain in a no-ambulance area with packs on our backs, having never hiked with a pack on before, my physical and mental toughness was put to the test. I survived though. A walk in the park for Dan was no easy task for me, especially after being in flat Florida in a one story house for a month. I patted myself on the back for anticipating my soreness level and building a “rest day” in Chugchilán into our schedule. When I woke up the morning after our hike, every muscle in my body was sore. Unsure if I would be able to handle the hike to the next town of Isinliví, we spent our “rest day” developing a Plan B – hitch a truck ride for $50 and a Plan C – ride horses for $90. The thing is, we’re cheap. No. We’re economical. This time off would have never been possible if we used our money for convenience, ease, and comfort all the time. Most of our savings come from taking the harder, but more affordable path, even if we could afford an easier way. We weren’t going to start throwing money at our my problems now. At least not in this instance. The next morning, we paid $7 for two boxed lunches and set out on the hike to Isinliví.

It was Thanksgiving Day. We started our hike at 8 AM in an conscious effort to finish before any afternoon rain sets in. We made our way through paved Chugchilán town-proper, descended a canyon, got viciously barked at by dogs who followed us for half a mile, made it down to the Toachi River, crossed a log bridge, climbed up a rock filled gully more suited for water than foot traffic, missed our turn, followed a washed out gravel road, and eventually made it to the town of Isinliví and our hostel LluLlu Llama six hours after we started. Although I was still sore, this hike was noticeably easier. It was a relief to make it to our hostel so early. Time to shower, take a nap, enjoy the jacuzzi, swap tales from the trail with other hikers, and share a meal with fellow travelers and new friends. It was a Thanksgiving we’ll never forget.

Next up, Baños, the land of, as described by our Airbnb host, “waterfalls, hostels, and dog shit.” 

2 Replies to “Chugchilán to Isinliví – A Thanksgiving We Will Never Forget”

  1. Steep sections, washed out trails, narrow paths, and crazy weather make scenic vistas and this grand adventure all the more memorable. No pain no gain, right? Sounds like you two are having the time of your lives. I look forward to more stories and appreciate your sharing.

    1. So true! I feel like I can conquer some of the more challenging hikes I had been avoiding for years back home.

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