Laguna Quilotoa Travel Guide

  • the massive Laguna Quilotoa
    the massive Laguna Quilotoa
    by richiecdisc
  • On the way to Quilotoa Lagoon
    On the way to Quilotoa Lagoon
    by mayadoc
  • Things to Do
    by toonsarah

Laguna Quilotoa Things to Do

  • The legend of Vulcán Quilotoa

    A legend says that once upon a time the god of volcanoes, Quilotoa, lived at the surface of the lake and the Pacific god Toachi lived at the bottom. Quilotoa didn’t like the presence of Toachi and therefore throw a ray of light towards him to make him leave. Toachi got angry and throw fireballs back at Quilotoa, who of course fired back. It was...

  • Reconstructions

    I hiked from Chugchilán to Quilotoa both in 2011 and in 2012. The later year they hade done some improvements along the trail. There were now sings at several places pointing out the direction and the distance. Along the trail they had also put up benches and bins. From the bench in the photo it is a great view over Laguna Quilotoa and it looks...

  • Mountain views

    On some Tigua paintings I have seen the Laguna Quilotoa depicted with Volcán Cotopaxi in the background. Well, from the village Quilotoa it is not Cotopaxi you see, but when the weather is clear you can see the tops of Iliniza Norte (5126m) and Iliniza Sur (5284m) behind the crater rim. During my first visit to Ecuador I bought a Tigua painting...


Laguna Quilotoa Hotels

Laguna Quilotoa Restaurants

  • Three Restaurants and Hostels

    Near the rim of the crater, just on the opposite side of the road from where the path down to the lagoon begins, are three restaurants and hostels. From left to right they are Princesa Toa, Restaurante y Hostal Pachamama and Restaurante y Hostal Chukirawa. At least at the two last ones the price for a room, including breakfast and dinner, is $10...

  • Café at the crater's edge

    We ate our lunch in a friendly café which is perched right on the crater’s edge near to the viewpoint – Kirutwa (I am indebted to MalenaN, one of VT’s experts on Ecuador, for the name as I forgot to note it on the day). Jose Luiz explained that he likes to patronise this restaurant because it is community-run. Local people take turns at the cooking...

  • not so different at the core

    One of the great joys of traveling in the Andes is the local markets and for me the best part about them is trying the traditional foods. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a gourmet culinary affair but most things are quite tasty and it’s inexpensive so there are no excuses. Some feel it is easy to get a stomach ailment being so adventurous but I...


Laguna Quilotoa Nightlife

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    Cloud Forest Hostal: searching for the perfect beat

    by richiecdisc Updated Feb 15, 2008

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Nightlife in the Andes is pretty slim. That’s okay, it’s really a place to relax and get away from the hustle bustle of everyday life anyway. There are not a lot of sights but there are lots of roads to walk down or up as is generally the case in the mountains. After a day of exploring on foot kicking back is about a perfect an activity as you’re likely to find. So, sitting around the hostel and talking to fellow travelers is common. At the one in Chugchilán they had a great space for this resplendent with a wood burning stove that fought off the chilly night mountain air. Since the rooms were very small and really only good for sleeping, everyone congregated in there as close to the fire as they could get. They had beer, wine, soft drinks and even hard alcohol which you drank on the honor system and a nice old movie popcorn machine which was gratis as long as you were drinking. We spent a few fun nights in there but the best was when a contingent of small local girls came by in traditional dress and danced to folk music typical of the area. They were incredibly cute and by the end everyone was up dancing with some gentle cajoling from them. Some of the tunes were particularly catchy and we had met a couple of English travelers prior to coming to Chugchilán who were madly searching for one song in particular to no avail. They sang it out to us and once we heard it in person we too became enthralled with it. We never found it either but it remains one of the great auditory memories of the trip. Maybe someday we’ll hear it again. I hope so.

    Dress Code: The little girls dressed in traditional garb but we opted for something warm though once the fire got going we could peel off a layer or two.

    cute little local girls put on quite a show
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    • Beer Tasting
    • Budget Travel

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Laguna Quilotoa Transportation

  • 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...


Laguna Quilotoa Shopping

  • Support the local economy

    On our way back to where the car was parked we stopped in the nearby crafts cooperative where local people have stalls to sell their handiwork. This is a new initiative and it felt like it too – very pristine and soulless – a bit like a church hall! But I’m sure it will mellow and bring real benefits to the community. When we visited only some of...

  • try the local produce and baked goods

    Shopping in Ecuador is a joy especially when you are away from touristy areas. Indigenous vendors enjoy their work and interaction with their customers. It's playful and never taken too seriously. Stands can be incredibly simple, sometimes nothing more than a blanket on the ground. It's a sensory experience too. Colorful to the eye, ear, and nose,...

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Laguna Quilotoa Local Customs

  • customs are changing

    A lot of travelers get romantic notions about what should remain the same in cultures not their own. I am certainly guilty of it myself but it's not right to expect indigenous people to live without the creature comforts that we enjoy. Sure, at one time locals traveled solely on foot or perhaps on horseback but times are changing and whether that...

  • their own kind of backpacking

    One of the more common sights in the Andes, be it Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador is that of mothers carrying their children on their backs. Since most locals are on foot and the paths they travel are anything but flat and even, it seems a great method. It's no wonder the women there have such strong legs!

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

Laguna Quilotoa Warnings and Dangers

  • Warning!!!

    Be warning especially for the ladies. I couldnt wait to get to the bottom of the crater that way I could use the facilities. When I found them, I decided I could wait til I got back up. When I got back up I decided I could wait til I got to Latacunga.Guys might not have too much of a problem.

  • not for the faint hearted

    The indigenous markets are good fun but vegetarians, those with weak stomachs or overly sensitive to smell might not always enjoy them. Animals are treated like what they are for locals: food and that might not sit well with tourists but that is life in the Andes. Fish and its odor is generally a problem even for those who can't smell anything and...

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Laguna Quilotoa Tourist Traps

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    Don't pay ! Ne payez pas !

    by Maillekeul Updated Aug 9, 2003

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Some kids will try and make you pay something at the entrance of the area of the Laguna, but there is no mandatory ticket to enjoy the view of the Laguna.

    Des enfants postes a l'entree du site vous demanderont d'acheter leurs billets pour contempler la Lagune : mais, il n'existe pas de droit d'entree officiel.

    Unique Suggestions: Unless you want to make a good action for the poor kids, don't pay .

    Sauf si vous voulez donner un peu pour ces gamins, ne leur payez rien et continuez vers la lagune.

    Fun Alternatives: Give them a big smile and some centavos... They are actually very poor.

    Un joli sourire et quelques centavos.
    Ces enfants de Zumbahua sont vraiment tres pauvres....

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Laguna Quilotoa What to Pack

  • What to bring when hiking in the...

    If you are hiking between the villages in the Quilotoa area it is good to leave some of your luggage somewhere else, as you will be hiking for many hours at high altitude. I left many things at Hostal Tiana in Latacunga, where I stayed both before and after visiting the Quilotoa area. I was away for a week. I packed what I needed for that week in...

  • our kind of backpacking

    The Quilotoa Loop does not lend itself to a roll away suitcase. Local buses can be crammed and your bag is likely to be tied to the roof. It's much easier to travel with a backpack and even at that it's best to leave some of your gear in Latacunga in case you want to do parts of the loop on foot. No use carrying things you don't need. Sturdy...

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Laguna Quilotoa Off The Beaten Path

  • Pujili – on the road to Quilotoa

    We stopped in the small town of Pujili on our way to Quilotoa, to visit the market. As we had been in Otavalo a few days before, I wondered whether this would be similar, but it was an altogether more local and authentic affair. Market days here are Wednesday and Sunday (we were here on a Wednesday) and are a major event for the local people, as...

  • Beautiful landscapes

    Driving around the Quilotoa Loop, you'll be impressed by the landscapes. You'll find jagged cliffs, interesting rocks, rough, wind-whipped grasses and sturdy, weather toughened locals. Even the animals are hardy creatures, able to withstand the fairly harsh conditions of cold, wind and a dangerously close and burning sun.

  • carry a stick

    You can do some nice walks into the surrounding hills, one to a local cheese factory but carry a walking stick and some stones as there are territorial dogs along the route that unfortunately ruin what otherwise would be a serene walking experience. You are walking on small roads but don’t expect much traffic aside from the ubiquitous political...


Laguna Quilotoa Sports & Outdoors

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    backpacking gets you where the buses...

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 13, 2008

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Backpacking is a great way to see things you would never see otherwise. It's true that taking the local buses lets you see an aspect of the culture you would miss but traveling on foot is another way to see how locals get around as they do a lot of walking from place to place. Many places are only accessible on foot. It's also a great way to get some exercise in and burn the calories you invariably consume when traveling!

    Equipment: A backpack allows you to carry everything you need and gives you freedom from any form of transportation. You leave when you like, not at 4 AM on the bus! You'll need sturdy boots as he extra weight on your back requires more support. You'll need to carry rain gear as you are at the mercy of the elements. A walking stick comes in handy on steep slopes especially when carrying a pack.

    D & I with our packs walking to Chugchil��n a local hut on the way to Chugchil��n we would have missed this view of Laguna Quilotoa
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    • Budget Travel
    • Backpacking
    • Hiking and Walking

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Laguna Quilotoa Favorites

  • Landscape around Quilotoa

    In addition to the great enjoyment of seeing Quilotoa itself (one of the images of Ecuador I had stored in my head and which had inspired my wish to visit), I also loved the journey to and from the crater, despite sometimes poor weather and lengthy delays in the road-works. In fact, perhaps those two factors added to the pleasure of the journey....

  • not letting him eat cake

    It was not as direct as we would have liked and though there were likely local shortcuts we didn’t like being led off the main path in an area we were completely unfamiliar with. The trail descended sharply now and with our packs and no walking sticks it was a knee bracing affair. About three quarters of the way down the trail he asked us for his...

  • It's worth the squeeze

    Approaching the lake is a cool experience since it stays hidden from view until you're practically on top of it. You're likely to park in a parking lot a few minutes walk from the upper edges of the cliffs above Quilotoa. However, there is a crevice in the rocks that you must pass through that keeps the lake hidden from view. After squeezing...


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