The large crater (3 km in diameter) of this modestly high volcano is the home of a 240m deep turquoise lagoon that could be reached hiking down inside the crater at an altitude of 3570m . The lagoon 2 km in diameter is one of the numerous jewels of Ecuador ! Many tourists visit Laguna Quilotoa but only a minority go for the summit or a tour of the crater rim although it’s just a hike. For those headed to the Big Ten volcanoes, here is the perfect field for high altitude cardio-training !
Quilotoa is considered as an active volcano. Lately, there was gas bubbling out of the water next to one of the crater walls.
Option 1 - From Latacunga take a bus directly to Quilotoa village (3800m). There are 2, leaving at 11am and noon, and cost 1.50$ (2005).
Option 2 – From Latacunga take a bus to the town of Zumbahua (2920m). There are buses every hour for 1.50$ or less (2005). The road is one of the very scenic ones in Ecuadorian Sierra with great views of Cotopaxi (when not in the clouds !). You can start your hike to the summit here,12km (+900m) from Zumbahua to Quilotoa crater, but some guide books do not recommend this due to some recent “insecurity issues”: Aggressions against lone hikers have been reported. Other alternative is to take one of the “camionetas” to go to Quilotoa village (3$ - 2005).
From Latacunga take a bus to Chugchilan village (3200m) via Sigchos (3900m) at 10 am, or via Zumbahua (2920m) at noon. The latest is a tough road.
By June 2005, the indigenous community of Quilotoa charged 1$ / foreigner at the main gate of the village.
When To Climb
view of the Ilinizas
Quilotoa rim can be hiked all year round.
Camping / Huts
Camping in the countryside is not recommended for "safety reasons" as several aggressions against lone hikers have been reported in the area. However technically speaking there are good spots at the rim. There is also accommodation at Quilotoa Casa Comunal for 5$ to 8$ / night. There is a community cabin / hut inside the crater, on Laguna Quilotoa shore for 7$ / night (by spring 2005).
The “Tourist Development of Green Lake Quilotoa” is the best source of information. Call 00593-6-814-867 and ask for César Cuchiparte Pastuña.
It’s not recommended to swim in the lagoon due to the volcanic composition of its water even if locals would tell you it’s possible. There is only some algae species capable of some marginal growth in that water...