Living in a volcanic crater might not sound like the best idea, but it seems to work for the few hundred families living in Pululahua. Just north of Quito, Pululahua is a gaping five kilometre wide crater. It’s one of the largest craters in South America, and was created when a now inactive volcano collapsed on itself.
The site has been inhabited since the times of the Incan Empire, when farmers noticed the soil in the crater was pretty good stuff. Today, the fields inside the crater are dotted with black and white cows, horses and the occasional crop of corn. It makes for a pleasant walk in an agricultural community with a twist. The sheer walls of the crater loom above the petite farmhouses in all directions, making everything seem miniature in comparison.
Getting to the crater is easy. Just take a bus from Quito’s Ofelia bus station in the north to the town of Calacali (just next to the Mitad del Mundo buses). Ask the driver to let you off near the entrance to the park. The entrance is off the highway on a road heading vaguely north from where the driver will drop you off. It’s about a fifteen minute walk. Coming back, just wait on the main road for a bus to pass. You don’t need a tour, as the crater is easy to stroll around alone. The farmers all seemed friendly and extremely polite, though their dogs are a bit aggressive. If you don’t like playing rabies roulette, keep a solid stick handy.