Earth : South America : Ecuador : Andean Highlands (Ecuador) : Laguna Quilotoa
Laguna Quilotoa is the highlight of the Quilotoa Loop. Located 14km north of Zumbahua, it is an volcanic-crater lake that sits at an elevation of 3900m and offers stunning views of both the lake and the mountain ranges surrounding it. A hike around the crater lake takes approximately 5 hours, and views of the Cotopaxi can be seen in the distance. Hikers can also hike down 400m from the rim of the crater to the lake itself in about 1 hour. The small village of Quilotoa lies to the southwest of the lake, and basic accomodations run by indigenous people are available.
Flora and fauna
At 3800 metres altitude there is a mountain climate that can quickly change from warm and sunny to cloudy and very cold. The nights are cold.
Bus There are several buses a day from Latacunga. To guarantee getting a bus it is best to arrive in the morning. The journey is approximately 2.5 hours and costs 5 USD per person. From Latacunga there are more buses each day running to Zumbahua, a small town approximately 14km north of Quilotoa. Taxis / ride share can be arranged from Zumbahua to the Laguna.
It costs 2USD to enter the village. Unlimited access to the laguna is included in this price.
Quilotoa is very small village and everywhere is 5 minute walk.
Hike down to the laguna. It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk down and about 90 minutes to walk back. It´s a very steep, unpaved path and at this altiude needs a relatively good level of fitness.
Hike along the Quilotoa loop in either direction. The next villages are approximately 12kms in either direction through beautiful andean mountain scenery.
There is a small tourist crafts market near the entrance to the laguna walk.
There are many places to stay.
Quilotoa Cabanas - directly opposite the gate to the village. 15 USD per person for the basic but comfortable ensuite cabins. Wood burner, logs, breakfast and dinner included. Dormitory beds also available.