Sigchos, Ecuador

Sigchos, one of the first towns you’ll find along the Quilotoa Loop, surprisingly stole my heart from the very beginning. I decided to spend two weeks in this pass-through town and wish I stayed for more than a month.

Most travel blogs will tell you to just go straight through Sigchos without spending a night. I beg to differ.  It’s not just the breathtaking views that intrigued me – the people of Sigchos are incredibly nice, genuine, curious, AND they speak Spanish slowly (at least for me, they did). This charming small town became a sweet spot amidst my travels. If you’re planning on doing the Quilotoa Loop, I highly recommend a night in Sigchos.

Danielson in Sigchos, Ecuador

Where to Stay

 

The options are limited, which makes the decision making process a whole lot easier. The Starlight Inn was my home for two weeks and I loved every second of it. The quirky building was made with a whole lot of love, but not a whole lot of luxury. Just your basic essentials, which is all you really need.

The best part is the home-cooked dinner you will receive from either Monica or Mayra. It is a family-run hostel, owned by Mayra and Victor, two of the hardest working people I have met. 

Rocky the llama hangs out in the backyard, where you can sip your morning coffee as you watch the clouds glide past the Illiniza mountains.

Victor works as a tour guide and drives a huge chiva  bus, which he will happily take you around if you’d like to check out the sights.  You can learn to milk a cow, go wine tasting (with mortiños though, not grapes), go mountain biking, and more.

Welcome to Starlight!
Rocky the llama
Starlight Inn
Views of the Illinizas

While it wasn’t listed on Workaway at the time, which is where I normally find my volunteer gigs, I created a volunteer experience of my own. 

My sister and I taught English to the staff of Starlight and a few of the locals in Sigchos. We used materials I already created through Books Unbound and it was super fun!

If you have extra time in your travels to stop in one place for a week or two, try some volunteering to meet more of the locals. It’s a far more enriching experience and you have a chance to dive deeper with the community. You won’t regret it.

What To Do in Sigchos

Sunday animal market –> On Sundays, the entire town gathers for the weekly animal market. People come from neighboring villages to buy / sell their animals. People start gathering at around 6am, so it’s a perfect chance to catch the sunrise and check out a local activity. 

Milk a cow –> Sigchos has cow pastures everywhere and we were lucky enough to make friends with some farmers. I now have a newfound respect for farmers and the difficult tasks they do every single day. Milking a cow is no easy task!

Mangos = fuel for hikers

Take a hike –> We found some incredible views while exploring the area. A bit of trailblazing was needed where we went, but I’m sure there were trails somewhere…definitely worth checking out!

 

 

Check out the fresh market –> There is a fresh market in town where they sell all of the local produce, which is super fresh and incredibly cheap. My favorite travel game is to order $1’s worth of a product to see how much I would get. I was able to get 22 perfectly ripe, huge tomatoes for just $1. Amazing!

I also got 5 fresh mangos for $1, perfect fuel for our daily hikes.

 

Where To Eat

Penko Restaurant –> I taught English to the owner of Penko, so obviously I would recommend this place. 

Penko is a family-run business with the cutest couple – they let us use their restaurant kitchen to cook a Thanksgiving meal for our friends. But we were slightly embarrassed to be cooking such an amateur feast in front of these two professional cooks.

Not only do they have great food, they also host Thursday karaoke nights…if you want to get your karaoke experience in Sigchos, it’s definitely a possibility. We certainly did…all 4 hours of karaoke in one night.

Their customer service and food are absolutely fantastic. It’s definitely worth a visit!

Starlight Cafe –> Run by the same owners of Starlight Inn, this place has some great snack food — definitely try out the fried chicken!

*Note* If you are staying at Starlight Inn, Google Maps might direct you to the Starlight Cafe instead of the Starlight Inn. They’re both owned by the same people. The Starlight Inn is about a 10 minute walk out of town while the Starlight Cafe is directly in town.

Potato pancakes, yes!

Street Food

There are all sorts of street food you can find in Sigchos. There is a main square where you’ll find the food stalls. We tried some amazing chocho soup. The chocho bean is a popular superfood in the region. It’s incredibly healthy and high in protein — a perfect snack for hikers.

Because potatoes are a common crop in the area, a lot of the street food is potato-based, so it’s vegan / vegetarian friendly.

Guinea pig –> Yes, I tried guinea pig. One of my students wanted to “treat” his English teachers, so he took my sister and I out for some local guinea pig, also known as cuy. It’s one of those experiences where you should just try once. And no more. 

I’ve tried some funky meats in Asia, so it wasn’t the strangest thing I’ve tried. But it definitely was unnerving to see the live guinea pig beforehand. 

Eating guinea pig is a common tradition in this region, so the locals were very excited that we were willing to try it. 

The uneasy faces say it all...
They requested we take this photo, haha!

How to Get There — By Bus

Coming from Quito, you can grab a bus from Quitumbe Terminal on the southern end of the city.

There are two daily buses direct from Quito to Sigchos. Otherwise, you can take a bus from Quito to Latacunga, then Latacunga to Quito.

Total budget: $5 – $7 

The drive from Quito to Sigchos is absolutely gorgeous! Be sure to get a window seat on the bus.

Views from the bus from Latacunga to Sigchos

After Sigchos — what’s next?

Most people coming to Sigchos are on their way to Quilotoa and it’s their first pitstop along the Quilotoa Loop. After Sigchos, your next destination will be Isinlivi. 

Isinlivi

Next destination on the Quilotoa Loop