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Quilotoa Loop Trek

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Quilotoa Loop Trek

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  • Quilotoa Lake.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • View from the campground at Quilotoa Lake.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • View from the hike down to the lake from the town of Quilotoa.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Trail around the rim of the lake.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • View between Isinlivi and Chugchílan.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • One of the many views like this along the trail.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • One of the many views like this along the trail.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Helpful signs along the way.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Sandy trail during parts of the Quilotoa Lake hike. - Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Sandy trail during parts of the Quilotoa rim hike. - Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • One of the many farm animals you will encounter during your hike.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • One of the many farm animals you will encounter during your hike.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Trail from the bottom of the crater to the town of Quilotoa.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • View from the trail descending toward the bottom of crater.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Quilotoa Lake.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Even the views from the bus on the way in are striking.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • From the small town that borders the lake, there's a wooden boardwalk and a stunning overlook.- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • An abundance of wildflowers graces the Ecuadorian high country!- Quilotoa Loop Trek
  • Not a bad view of Cotopaxi, for a public bus!- Quilotoa Loop Trek
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Views of remote parts of Ecuador. Trail is well marked.
Cons: 
Camping spots can be difficult to find.
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Region:
Other,
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Number of days: 
3
Highest point: 
12,841.00 ft (3,913.94 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Total Distance: 
22.80 mi (36.69 km)
Total elevation gain: 
3,571.00 ft (1,088.44 m)
Trail type: 
Shuttle
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,270.00 ft (2,825.50 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Yes
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Quilotoa Loop Trek as a whole includes trekking through the Andes Mountains, farmland, small Andean villages, and ending at the stunning Laguna de Quilotoa, also known as Quilotoa Lake. There are four main villages along the route: Sighcos, Isinlivi, Chugchílan, and Quilotoa. Your trek begins at the trailhead in the town of Sigchos and continues on to Isinlivi (where you spend the first night), Chugchílan (second night), and ends in the town of Quilotoa (third night). The town of Quilotoa is located off the hiking trail at the top of Quilotoa Lake. The MapsMe app is a great reference for this trek because it has all of the trails on it as long as you download the offline map ahead of time. There are also lots of signs along the way that are helpful if there is a fork in the road. Don't be afraid to ask the locals if you're going in the right direction when you see them. They're used to it!

You will find that there are two different ways to do this trek: some choose to backpack to each of these towns and sleep in a hostel every night, while others backpack and camp along of the way. Both are great options depending on what you want out of your trip. There are no designated campgrounds besides at the Quilotoa Lake itself, but there is plenty of land along the way to where hikers can find a spot to sleep.

Each day you can plan on about four to six hours of hiking. The hiking is not too-strenuous as a whole. There are parts that can be steep and exhuasting, but they do not last long. The altitude can make the pace go slower than expected as well. This trek can completed any time of the year, but the dry season is from May to September. It is recommended to get started early in the morning in case of afternoon showers. 

The highest point of the Quilotoa Lake rim sits at 12,841 feet. From the rim of the lagoon you'll have the stunning view of the turquiose lake that was formed from a collapsed volcano. Once you reach Quilotoa Lake you'll have the option to hike around the entire rim, which takes an additonal three to four hours. You can also head toward the town of Quilotoa and from there take the trail to hike to the bottom of the crater (an additonal 30-minute descent), where you'll have the option to camp. Most people choose to stay in a hostel, so if you're lucky you could camp and have the bottom of the crater all to yourself!

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Adventures

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

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