A mysterious crater lake awaits in Quilotoa
A shared day tour to the Quilotoa Crater Lake is a must when visiting Ecuador!
Quilotoa is located about 15 km North of Zumbahua, a small town in the Pujili canton of the Cotopaxi province. It takes about a 3-hour drive from Quito to reach the town and crater of Quilotoa.
How the crater lake was formed
The Quilotoa caldera is 3km (2 mi) wide. It’s truly a breathtaking sight. This is the first thing you see as you arrive at the small town of Quilotoa. From the many look-out spots, you can take in this amazing and inspiring view. The caldera was formed 600 years ago after a massive eruption. At the bottom of the crater, you will find a lake 250 meters deep with greenish water due to dissolved minerals. Fumaroles and hot springs are also present on the lake floor. Remember the water is not potable.
What to do when you reach Quilotoa
Once you arrive at Quilotoa you can take it easy and admire the amazing landscape from the different look-out spots. Most visitors like to make their way down to the bottom of the crater. This trek takes 30 minutes going down and 1-2 hours coming back up.
At the bottom of the crater, you can rent a kayak ($2.50 per person) and paddle in the lake. You can trek around and then head back to the top. If you feel too tired mules are available to take you back up and they cost $10 USD per person.
Make sure to take some snacks and water to drink. It’s always a good idea to take along some sugary beverage or candy to offset the altitude sickness. When you arrive at the Quilotoa village make sure to give your body time to climatize and take it easy for a bit before trekking down to the bottom of the crater.
Carry some change ($5 USD in coins) for the not so public restroom and to purchase snacks or drinks in the small village.
We will start early in the morning (6-7 am pick-up) to get to the lagoon of Quilotoa. (3 hour drive). Upon arrival, you will have time to take in the beautiful landscape and get climatized to the altitude. Once ready you can hike down to the
lagoon the downhill takes about 30 minutes. Once your reach the bottom of the crater you can chill there or rent a kayak ($2.50) and paddle in the lake.
The ascent back to
the top takes 1-2 hours, but you have the possibility to rent donkeys or horses to take you up ($10 USD). Once at the top you can check out the small village with souvenirs, artwork and handicrafts. You can have lunch in the village too. After lunch and some site-seeing head back to Quito.