Rent a horse or a donkey to get back up
They dont usually rent the horse or donkey to go down the crater but you can rent then to go back up the crater. Thank God! I was so tired, it would have taken me forever to come back up.
You can rent to horse or donkey for about $4-5 dollars usd. It was so worth it to me.
Drive, so you can explore
The only real way to see Quilotoa is to have your own wheels so you can explore at your own pace and see the countryside the way you want to see it. We had a 4 WD Toyota that did the trick just fine (we rented it in Quito).
getting around is part of the fun
Generally speaking getting around Ecuador by bus is easy compared to many other South American countries. Distances are short and buses frequent. Now, when it come to the Quilotoa Loop it's not quite as simple. Getting from Latacunga to Zumbahua is easy enough with frequent buses which take two hours and cost $2. From there to Laguna Quilotoa it's easiest to jump on the back of a jeep or pick up truck. The more people riding together the cheaper it is. Locals cram twenty people on one and hence pay less per person. We paid five dollars for the two of us. There is a bus once a day at 1:30 PM but it take twice as long and not likely you'll get a seat unless a lot of people get off in Zumbahua. From Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilán there is one bus per day between 2-2:30 PM ($2). We hiked a beautiful trail and it took us four hours. We took a direct bus back to Latacunga from Chugchilán. It's only $4 and 3.5 hours but there's only one a day and it leaves at 4 AM. Yikes!
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
I decided after a few weeks in Quito that I needed some time out and wanted to see a little of the highlands of Ecuador. After checking out the map a journey down the Andes towards the Peruvian border seemed the right idea. I decided to use the South American Explores Club to plan my trip as they have a good selection of non bias information written by travellers, plus of course forums like the Thorn Tree.
I had read many good reports about the area around Laguna Quilotoa and wanted to spend a few days in the area trekking etc. I was recommended to contact Joe at ola-adventures.com as he runs well priced ($99 all in 3days) tours there regularly. Well after few meetings with Joe I can recommend him strongly. The tour or adventure as he liked to call it was amazing taking in some of the most mind boggling scenery that I had ever seen. The lodge we stayed at was really nice and all in all I would recommend this trip to anyone.
While on the Quilotoa loop we picked up some more people who where heading to Baños so we all headed there. Even though I had already been there (read here) it made for a great place to rest after a few days in the high Andes and I do like the hot Springs.
Bus from Latacunga
We used Latacunga as a base for a trip to Laguna Quilotoa and the surrounding region. To get there, we took a bus to Zumbahua, which in theory would have arrived early enough to allow us to walk the last few miles up the hill to Laguna Quilotoa and the inn there. Unfortunately, it took a long time, and hopefully you won't make the same mistake we did:
Once at the bus station, try to get confirmation from multiple sources on which is the next, and fastest bus to Zumbahua. Ask if there will be a stopover anywhere. What happened to us was that we found a bus for Zumbahua, and got on, but the conductor was not present. A conductor from another bus got on and informed us that his bus would be leaving sooner. We transferred our bags and bodies to the new bus, only to sit there for at least an hour, watching the original bus and at least one other heading our direction depart.
We were a little peeved, but stuck it out. When the bus finally got going, it went about 10 km to the neighboring town of Pujili, where it stopped in front of the market, for an hour! We set about getting some lunch, and finally departed for Zumbahua. When we arrived, we were met by a pick-up truck, whose driver offered to give us a lift to Quilotoa for $10 US. We were so late that we had little choice but to accept his offer, or try to find a place in Zumbahua to bed down.
To go to the Laguna from Latacunga - Le chemin
No need to pay a tour if you only want to see the Laguna (the tours include the visit of other small villages and picture-stops).
Take a bus to Zumbahua (2,5 USD : be careful, some may make you pay 5 USD).
Once in Zumbahua, bargain with people to get a camioneta that will wait for you over there until you come back from your climbing down... We paid only 10 USD for 2 persons (the whole trip in camioneta) : but I am sure it can be negociated at a lower price...
Il n'est pas utile de payer une excursion pour simplement voir la Lagune (ca le devient si vous voulez faire des poses-photos en cours de chemin). Prenez le bus de Latacunga pour Zumbahua (2,5 USD : attention, on essaiera de vous faire payer 5 USD par personne). Une fois sur place, negociez une camioneta qui vous attendra jusqu'a votre eventuel retour, en cas de descente vers la lagune). Nous avons paye notre camioneta 10 USD pour 2, mais je suis sur qu'on peut mieux negocier !
Getting there and around
There is an occassional bus making its way up to the Quilotoa Crater (or nearby) for a few USD... Get this bus at Latacunga. If the bus doesn't make it to Quilotoa, then grab a bus to Zumbahua. From there you can hire a truck for a few USD to take you the rest of the way. If coming form Chugchilan, ask at Casa Mama Hildas for the bus schedule to Quilotoa. There is an occasional bus on Saturdays going all the way to Zumbahua's saturday market.