It was our last city to visit on this journey in Ecuador, located approximately 130 km from the border with Colombia. In Ibarra, we stayed with Ruth, a 56-year-old travel enthusiast. She is a retired teacher who now travels a lot and hosts travelers from all over the world. Oleg and Lena, whom we have mentioned a couple of times in our blog, also stayed with her for a couple of days before us.


We spent four or five days with Ruth, and it was a very interesting time. On the first day, we went with her to a concert at the Imbabura Theater (Imbabura is the region of which Ibarra is the capital).

It was an evening of Pasillo music, which is very popular in Ecuador. A five-member band performed. All the members were from different cities and even different countries. For instance, the lead singer was from Mexico. They played songs by the famous Ecuadorian singer and composer Julio Jaramillo.

The music was fantastic, although we weren’t too fond of the vocals; it was a bit too high-pitched and difficult to understand the lyrics. However, Ruth mentioned that the vocalist’s voice was very similar to Julio Jaramillo’s voice.

On the other days, we spent more time at Ruth’s home, cooking various Russian and Colombian dishes, having conversations, and going for walks with Ruth’s two dogs, Jack and Nena. However, everyone in the family calls Nena by the name “Pandemia” (Pandemic) because they got her during the pandemic. The name suits her very well because her temperament is simply awful. Imagine a terrible temperament, and then multiply it by five, and you get Nena’s temperament. Jack, on the other hand, is a sweetheart!

Laguna de Yahuarcocha

In Ibarra, there isn’t a lot to see, but there are many different lakes in the surrounding area. One of them, Laguna de Yahuarcocha, is very close to the city. Ruth told us a lot about this place and, on our last day in Ibarra, decided to introduce us to it.

Laguna Yahuarcocha is quite large, covering an area of 240 hectares, but it’s not very deep, with a maximum depth of just 7 meters. It is located at an altitude of 2,210 meters above sea level.

Getting to the lake is very easy by public transport. We took a bus from the center of Ibarra, and the journey took half an hour, costing 35 cents per person. Along the way, we passed a couple of universities and got to know the northern part of the city.

Лагуна Яуаркоча

Lake of Blood

The name Laguna Yahuarcocha comes from the Kichwa language and translates literally to “Lake of Blood.” “Yahuar” means blood, and “cocha” means lake. Legend has it that a bloody battle took place here between indigenous tribes and the invading Incas. After the battle, the lake was stained with blood, hence the name.

However, the lake is very green because it’s shallow and heavily overgrown. In some places, the shores resemble a swamp. But the authorities take care of this place, clean it, and make it more attractive because Laguna Yahuarcocha is very popular for local tourism. On weekends, there are a lot of people here, coming to relax and, of course, to eat. The fish is deliciously prepared here, and there are restaurants everywhere.

It’s genuinely very beautiful here, with lots of gardens, colorful flowers, and mountains all around.

But there’s one significant drawback – sandflies. They are very, very abundant here! These tiny, almost unnoticeable creatures are very bloodthirsty. They bite almost imperceptibly and quickly, and you may not even feel it. However, their bites swell significantly and itch for the next two weeks. In Ibarra, there are almost none of them, but if you’re going to this lake, make sure to bring insect repellent, wear pants, and long sleeves.

Otherwise, they’ll “feast” on you as they did on us. Due to this, we couldn’t stay on the shore for long and went to the San Miguel Arcangel viewpoint, which offers a view of the entire city of Ibarra and the Imbabura volcano on one side and the lake on the other.

San Miguel Arcangel Viewpoint

The view of the volcano and the city at its base is impressive…

Смотровая Архангел Сан Мигель

but the view of the lake from here isn’t that great.

Вид на лагуну Яуаркоча

Perhaps if you go up to the viewpoint of the Archangel monument, the view of the lake will be better. It costs half a dollar, but we didn’t go up there.

Смотровая Архангел Сан Мигель

Unfortunately, instead of that, we bought the most tasteless ice cream in the world. In our entire lives, we’ve never eaten anything less tasty. It’s unclear how one can even make tasteless ice cream, but we couldn’t even finish it. Not only was it crushed ice with coloring and flavor additives, but the strangest thing was that it was salty!

No, not just salty, but overly salty! Yuck! It gives me shivers just thinking about it. In fact, all the ice cream in Ibarra is about the same. Maybe not as overly salty, but it’s ice with salt. So, we don’t recommend it!

The road to Colombia

The next day, we said goodbye to Ruth and headed towards the border with Colombia. Interestingly, we hopped on a bus again and reached Laguna Yahuarcocha. So, we could have saved a day and visited it on the way to the border. But, it was a nice trip with Ruth. As for the road to Colombia, we’ll share that story in our next post. See you soon!

Мы и Рут

With love from Ecuador, Vasya and Nastya

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