Quilotoa Loop: 3-Day Trekking Adventure
The Quilotoa Loop is an adventure that starts in a small town called Sigchos and ends at the Quilotoa.
Just picture a water-filled crater lake at 12, 842 feet above sea level (3, 914 meters)!
On the way, you would experience the beauty of the Andes Mountains, the most breathtaking views, cultural encounters, delicious food, and the satisfaction of challenging yourself.
This trek focuses on immersing in culture and nature. It is challenging but still manageable for those who are going on their first trek adventure or are still acclimatizing to the high altitude. Each trek could last from less than 5 hours to 8 hours depending on the fitness condition and rhythm of the adventurer.
The adventure to Quilotoa starts in Latacunga, a charming town located in the heart of Ecuador. The easiest way to get there from Quito is by taking a 1.5 hours bus from the Terminal Quitumbe. Once you arrive in Latucunga take the opportunity to taste the traditional Bizcochos. From Latacunga you can take a 3 hours bus to Sigchos.
Guide through the Quilotoa Loop
Day 1: From Sigchos to Isinlivi
Start your Quilotoa trek in Sigchos, heading towards Isinlivi. Use an offline map to stay on the right path and avoid private property. The first day is mostly downhill, with an optional detour to Cascade Gualligua for a refreshing break. Cross the Toachi River and hike uphill to Isinlivi, a picturesque village with mirador trails, woodwork artisans, and a small church. Get ready for an exciting adventure along the Quilotoa Loop, surrounded by stunning nature and local culture.
Day 2: Isinlivi to Chugchilan
The next day start an exciting adventure to Chugchilan! First, descend to the canyon of the Toachi River and cross a special wooden bridge made from a tree. Then, walk on a gravel path to a village called Itualo. Pass the church and look for an uphill grass path near a small shack. That’s the way to Chinaló.
In Chinaló, enjoy the mirador with a fantastic view of the Toachi Canyon. After enjoying Chinaló get ready for more beautiful sights and friendly people!
Day 3: Chugchilan to Quilotoa Loop
On the last day, you have two options. The standard route passes through La Moya Baja and La Moya Alta. Alternatively, there’s a quicker but steeper “adventure route” near Guayama San Pedro.
Follow the grassy trail after Sigue, cross the Sigue River on a wooden bridge, and keep an eye out for markers to Quilotoa Lake. Look for a viewpoint before Guayama San Pedro. Walk along the town’s outskirts and follow the gravel path to the first viewpoint of Laguna Quilotoa.
Choose between a lower loop trail or a higher Quilotoa loop trail for your final stretch. Enjoy the unique perspectives and cherish the memories of your Quilotoa adventure.
Tips for a Memorable Trekking Experience
- Physical Preparation: Although the trek is suitable for most fitness levels, it is advisable to engage in regular exercise before undertaking the journey to ensure you are adequately prepared.
- Packing Essentials: Carry essential trekking gear, including comfortable hiking shoes, layers of clothing for varying weather conditions, a rain jacket, sunscreen, a hat, a refillable water bottle, and snacks for energy.
- Acclimatization: Take your time to adjust to the altitude by spending a day or two in Latacunga before beginning the trek. Stay hydrated and listen to your body throughout the journey.
- Local Interaction: Engage with the locals, learn a few basic phrases in Spanish or Kichwa, and respect their customs and traditions. This will enrich your experience and create meaningful connections.
Written by Elisa Castillo.