Laguna Quilotoa is one of those “must-visit” places, meaning it’s one of the destinations that every tourist coming to Ecuador “has to” see. Although, of course, we didn’t encounter a large number of tourists when we visited. We went there for this very reason – because it’s a must-visit place. It seemed like almost everyone we talked to recommended it. In moments like these, you usually have a feeling that if you don’t go, you’ll undoubtedly hear exclamations and questions later on, like, “Why didn’t you go? It’s so beautiful there! You should have visited!” and the like. Honestly, we weren’t very eager to go. But now we can say for sure that it was worth it!
The road to the Quilotoa volcano
We didn’t want to go for several reasons. The main one was that there was a lot of unfinished urgent work. The second reason was that we were quite tired of traveling, and it wasn’t that we didn’t want to go specifically there, but we just wanted not to go anywhere. Also, we had visited so many different lagoons recently that they didn’t impress us much anymore. But the deciding factor for us was that we had already told everyone that we wanted to visit Quilotoa Lagoon, and we didn’t want to back out at the last moment.
Quilotoa Lagoon is located 35 km from the city of Latacunga. We stayed in this city through Couchsurfing, but not as usual, but in a hotel. The hotel owner, who was also our host, Santiago (we mentioned him in the post about Filandia), wasn’t in the city at that moment. We were communicating with him via WhatsApp, and he inquired about our plans. We told him that we wanted to visit Quilotoa. We also mentioned the same to our next host in Quito. In short, we had to go. But we didn’t go. We needed to finish our work, so we postponed the trip to the next day. The next day, we still didn’t want to go, but by that time, there was no turning back.
We, of course, hitchhiked our way there. Although buses go there, and they are not very expensive. First, we were dropped off in the town of Zumbahua. From there, it’s a direct route to Quilotoa, but it’s still quite a walk. Taxi drivers offered to take us further, and when we said, “We’re hitchhiking,” they responded with, “No one does that here.” But we didn’t have to wait long. Max, a tourist from Germany, picked us up.
Another reason for not wanting to go to Quilotoa was that there is an entrance fee. You have to pay not for visiting the Quilotoa volcano, but for entering the village. This was the first and so far the only populated place on our journey for which we had to pay. However, we had a plan to bypass the checkpoint, and it seemed quite feasible on Google Maps. But with Max, we arrived directly at the checkpoint, so we had to pay.
The entrance to the Quilotoa village costs $2 USD per person
Laguna Quilotoa was formed in the crater of the Quilotoa volcano. The volcano’s height is 3,914 meters above sea level, and the lake’s depth is about 240 meters. Steep walls of the volcano’s crater rise about 400 meters above the lake.
There are virtually no shores around the lake, and it’s probably possible to descend to it in only one spot. However, we decided not to do that because on that day, we needed to not only return to Latacunga but also find our way to Quito. Max, on the other hand, chose to go down to walk around the lagoon in a kayak. We took a short walk with him around the volcano’s ridge and then returned to the parking area to retrieve our backpacks. We bid farewell to Max here and began waiting for someone heading in our direction.
Of course, it was a bit disappointing to leave so soon because it’s genuinely very beautiful there! However, our decision was the right one because rain clouds were beginning to gather. Quilotoa is best visited in the morning, as after noon, clouds tend to roll in, obscuring the view completely.
We had to wait quite a while, but eventually, we got another ride back to Zumbahua. It turned out that not far from this town, there’s another equally beautiful natural attraction – the Sumbahua River Canyon. However, we passed by it, and unfortunately, we couldn’t get a closer look.
In Zumbahua, we quickly caught a truck and slept the entire way back to Latacunga. The sun was already setting, but we were lucky to hitch a ride to Quito, where we spent the evening in great company with four other Couchsurfing hosts.
With love from Ecuador, Vasya and Nastya