The Quilotoa Loop (or Quilotoa circuit) is a remote, bumpy, mountainous road linking several high andean villiages and towns with the city of Latacunga. It offers one a chance to get off the Pan American highway and see some of the more remote people and culture of the central Andes of Ecuador. It also provides access to the Quilotoa Traverse, a multi-day village to village hiking route.
Quilotoa Traverse. The Quilotoa traverse is a multi-day village to village hiking route within the Quilotoa area of Ecuador's central highlands. Many alternatives exist, but the most commonly travelled routes are between the towns of Quilotoa, Chugchilan, Insilivi, and Sigchos. The majority of the routes between these towns are off-road hiking trails, however some overlap with dirt/gravel roads with little to no traffic volume. The traverse can be done from south to north (Quilotoa to Sigchos) or north to south (Sigchos to Quilotoa). Going from south to north follows an overall downhill trajectory (from 3914 m in Quilotoa to Sigchos at 2800 m). Route descriptions and simple maps are available at the Hostal Tiana in Latacunga, which therefore provides a good base from which to plan and execute the traverse. Luggage storage is also available at Hostal Tiana. The following itinerary describes the most common approach to the south to north traverse. Day 1: Bus from Latacunga to Quilotoa (elev: 3914m). Overnight in Quilotoa. Day 2: Hike from Quilotoa to Chugchilan (elev: 3200m). Overnight in Chugchilan. Day 3: Hike from Chugchilan to Insilivi (elev: 2900m). Overnight in Insilivi. Day 4: Hike from Insilivi to Sichogs (elev: 2800m). Catch return bus to Latacunga. Other route options are available, including an additional day from Tigua to Quilotoa (or the reverse). However, as of October 2013, the Tigua to Quilotoa route is completely unmarked and often confusing, and should not be attempted unless detailed route descriptions are obtained, or a guide is hired. Buses back to Latacunga are also available at each of the towns listed above, thereby permitting shorter versions of the traverse. Route descriptions available at Hostal Tiana are basic, and sometimes incomplete. The routes are obvious and marked in places, but inconsistent and confusing in others. Finding the proper trails and routes can be challenging, and often requires good route-finding skills. While experienced competent hikers will likely be OK, novice hikers are well advised to hire a local guide (can be arranged in Latacunga). As few services, and little to no water is available in between towns, it is highly advised to carry water and food during the day. Overnight budget accommodation, including meals, is generally available within Quilotoa, Chugchilan, Insilivi, and Sichogs. However, banks/ATMs are generally unavailable outside of Latacunga. Hikers should therefore carry enough cash to last the entire traverse.edit