Hiking the Quilotoa LoopThis is a classic and beautiful acclimation hike in Ecuador. We hiked all around Lake Quilotoa on our first excursion - the views all around are simply stunning.
The day was cloudy and windy, but clear overall, allowing for a constant full view of the volcanic lake (sometimes, unfortunately, clouds settle into the crater over the lake, making it for a much less rewarding visual experience).
The hike isn't too strenuous - people in good physical shape can do it in about 4 hours. We took our time - with plenty of stops and pauses.
The loop is a bit over 10K (6.5 miles) and you'll remain within an altitude range that varies from 3,600 m to the 4,050 m (13,250 ft) of the top.
The hardest part about hiking Lake Quilotoa is getting there from anywhere else in Ecuador. From Quito, it's a long drive (to Latacunga first, then to Zumbahua, and then to the laguna). We hired a driver, since we weren't sure about how our driving abilities would jive with the local driving habits... for $130, the driver nicely took us from the hotel to the entrance of the laguna, and waited for us to come back. After which, we all had lunch together at one of the few restaurants on the rim of the crater (you can also spend the night there for a relatively small sum). He drove us back to Quito after a nice meal.
Start early - the drive takes 2.5 hours at least - clouds and mist are much more likely to ruin you afternoon than your morning.