At about 14 kilometers from Zumbahua, about an hour from Latacunga lies the small village of Quilotoa atop the famous volcanic crater lake of Quilotoa Lagoon. A really marvelous site to visit.
Another activitiy to enjoy, apart from the ones offered in Montecristi Golf Club, is the one where you get in contact with mother nature.
The mirror green lake sits 400 meters below and both the snow-covered peaks of the Cotopaxi volcano and Illiniza Sur can be seen in the distance. Ask the locals how deep is it and they will invariably answer that it has no bottom. Scientists, however, tell us it is 250 meters deep.
The village rests at an elevation of around 3800 meters so the first recommendation: be ready to feel thin air.
But getting there is as much a part of the adventure as the lagoon itself.
You can either take a bus from Latacunga (about an hour and a half of travel) or you can hike the Quilotoa Loop!
This is a fantastic adventure if you like the great outdoors and off-the-beaten-track travel. Often forgotten or sacrificed by those only in the country for a few weeks in favor of the Amazon, Coast or Galapagos, it should be an essential part of everyone’s itinerary who is lucky to be in the country for longer.
So, what is it exactly? Well, it’s a three to five-day self-guided hike through the Andean hills, rivers, valleys, vast countryside, a volcano, a crater lake, small Quechua communities, loads of farm animals, amazing nature, epic landscapes and cozy hostels. Here are some things you need to go before you go.
First of all, it’s a great value trip. The three to five-day hike could cost you about $100 including all transport, food, and accommodations. A tighter schedule could make the trip’s cost go down to $70.
Start by leaving your bags in Latacunga either with friends if you have them or in small hostels. The ones around will charge you around $1.50 per person, per day to store your travel bag, grab a day bag with only the bare minimum and go. By the way. Leave your need for internet locked also since it is highly unlikely that you’ll find access while hiking.
There’s a variety of options when it comes to routes. The biggest one would follow this route: Latacunga – Isinlivi -Chugchilán – Quilotoa – Zumbahua – Latacunga. This is the five-day trek although it could be made in 4 days easily. Should this loop be made in reverse it would help you since most of it would be downhill (most, not all).
It can get cold. You will find yourself sleeping under a mountain of blankets whilst still dressed in your hiking clothes. Please be sure to take enough clothes and layers along. Even if the day was sunny, nighttime will be bitterly cold.
Always ask before leaving a hostel the route and triple check it. You don’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere without any kind of signal.
Another recommendation. Hostels will charge you around $15 per night per guest but that will include a double room with private bathroom and a three-course dinner and all you can eat breakfast.
A small recommendation while in the loop is to be respectful of the people you find in the way ask before snapping pictures away.
You don’t need a high fitness level to make this hike but get ready for long 5+ hours walks.
A final piece of advice: take all your money with you. There are no ATM machines up by the lagoon.
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