The Quilotoa Loop is the common name given to a roughly 200km loop through the Ecuadorian Andes just west of the Cotopaxi volcano. There is no defined starting or ending point and in addition to exhilarating walking trails, a variety of motorized transportation is available. In this 3 day program you will climb up to the refuge of the Cotopaxi volcano, hike one full day between picturesque Andean mountain villages and visit the breathtaking Quilotoa lagoon the last day. While passing by tiny highland villages, canyons, rivers and forest, chances are high that you will encounter local people that are always happy to see hikers passing by their lands.
From Quito you will travel in private transport to the Cotopaxi National Park. The Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in Ecuador and the second tallest mountain in the country. The paramo that surrounds the area is habited by rabbits, skunks, deer and Andean weasels known as chucuris, sparrowhawks, black-chested buzzard-eagles, condors, Andean foxes and paramo wolves amongst others. After parking at 4500m, you hike up to the Jose Rivas Refuge that is located at 4864m on the volcano’s snow line. Here you are going to have a little rest so you can regain some energy with a hot chocolate or coffee. If you bring your original passport, you can let it stamped with a Cotopaxi stamp inside the refuge. After this visit you will be brought to Isinliví, a small Andean village at an altitude of 2700m. Here you will stay the night in a characteristic cabaña of a hostel, from where you have a beautiful view over the mountain landscape if the weather permits it. Dinner at the accommodation is included.
After arriving in Isinliví, your driver will take your luggage with him and bring it to your accommodation for the next day. Therefore you should prepare a small backpack in advance with only the essential items that you need for the next 24 hours.
Day 2 – Isinliví to Chugchilán
Today you will hike from Isinliví to the village Chugchilán in about 6 hours. This guided hike follows the Toachi canyon and you will hike a great part along the river and pass through small highland villages, with some great lookout point along the route. Roads are great with a mixture of paved and unpaved roads, and showing the most amazing landscapes. A nutritious box lunch will be provided to regain energy along the way. Once arrived in Chugchilán, you will be shown to your accommodation for the night in a peaceful but cozy hostel. After dinner you can enjoy with a drink at the fireplace and recover from today’s trek.
Day 3 – Quilotoa Crater Lake
After breakfast you will be picked up by your driver who will bring you to the breathtaking Quilotoa lagoon. This emerald color lagoon, located inside a volcano crater has a height of 3800m. The minerals in the water are what make the lagoon a spectacle of different tones: green, turquoise and blue. You will have the time to walk down to the shore of the lake where you can go kayaking or just enjoy the landscape. The ascent you can do walking or you can rent mules. After a (box) lunch in Quilotoa, your driver will bring you to Baños, Riobamba, Guamote or back to Quito (depending your wishes), where you will approximately arrive at the end of the afternoon. But before that, just outside Quitolota your driver will make a quick stop in Tigua, to visit a small shop where traditional Tigua paintings are being made.
- Accommodation in double-occupancy room with private bathroom
- Meals from dinner on the first day until lunch on the last day
- Spanish speaking local guide/driver on day 1
- Spanish speaking local guide and horse for small luggage on day 2
- Spanish speaking driver on day 3
- Private transport from Quito – Cotopaxi National Park – Isinliví
- Private transport from Chugchilán to Baños, Riobamba, Guamote or Quito (via Quilotoa & Tigua)
- Luggage transport from Isinliví to Chugchilán
- Permit Cotopaxi National Park
- Permit Ilinizas Ecological Reserve
- Optional mules rent at Quilotoa ($10 p.p.)
- Personal expenses
- Sunscreen & sun glasses
- Cap or lightweight scarf
- Gloves and hat
- Rain poncho
- Waterproof jacket
- Layered clothing
- Hiking boots
- Water & snacks
USD $300 p.p. (based on double accommodation)
USD $493 p.p. (single accommodation)