Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
3,571.00 ft (1,088.44 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
22.80 mi (36.69 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

3

Pros

Views of remote parts of Ecuador. Trail is well marked.

Cons

Camping spots can be difficult to find.

Trailhead Elevation

9,270.00 ft (2,825.50 m)

Highest point

12,841.00 ft (3,913.94 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Family friendly
Wildflowers
Near lake or river

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

07/24/2018
Awesome trek! I did this one in July 2018. However, I beg to differ about the trail being well marked. My group was all experienced hikers and backpackers, and we frequently found ourselves helping out other travelers who were lost or looking around carefully for the red and yellow paint marks that define the correct route through all the winding, dirt roads!

Well worth doing a little extra research to map out where you will be hiking and where to stay at night. Hostels with meals are also available for CHEAP!
Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.