From the south terminal in Quito we headed to the town of Latacunga, situated just over 2 hours away. We had been advised to stop there instead of heading straight to Banos, as apparantly there were numerous things to see and do in the area.
Upon arriving in Latacunga we initially felt we may have made a mistake, the town itself seemed a bit dirty and run down, but we headed off to the main plaza, where according to our guide-book we might encounter the few hotels listed.
After asking around we settled on Hotel Cotopaxi, right in front of the main plaza. The hotel offered us a large room and full use of their kitchen, and somehow, despite being a hotel, the rates worked out a fair bit cheaper than the only hostel in town.
The town itself is very quiet, so much so that by 8pm the streets are almost empty, yet unlike other places, the town has a safe feeling and we were not afraid to walk the deserted streets at night.
When I asked the owner at the hotel why the town was so quiet, they told me that in the last few years they had seen the level of tourists drop. This was sad news to us as the town offers a calm place to recharge your batteries or take up a number of excursions including the ones we chose; climbing the Cotopaxi volcano and taking a day trip to see various villages and the nearby crater lake of Quilotoa.
In our opinion it seems the vast majority of travellers skip Latacunga and head straight to Banos, which has over the last few years gained in popularity. Unfortunately, this seems to have happened at the expense of Latacunga, which is a shame as the town, despite being a little run down, has a warm heart and plenty of opportunities for hikers and explorers!