Day Trip to Quilotoa Lake

jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)

Quilotoa Lake is hands down one of the most breathtaking lakes I've seen - and I reckon I've seen many in my lifetime so far! This spot is a total Ecuadorian gem and nowhere near as touristy and busy as Quito itself so you're bound to be able to experience this place with just a few others and feel like you're witnessing something quite spectacular.

Quilotoa Lake is 178km south of Quito, Ecuador's capital. Driving there takes about three hours on the Pan American highway before heading up a winding mountainous road to the village. You can drive and visit yourself; there are plenty of guest houses and hostels to stay in nearby, but I recommend visiting as a day trip with the fantastic people at Quito Tour Bus who you can book through Get Your Guide. No word of a lie, this tour may have been one of the best I've ever done!

The tour includes all entrance fees ($2 USD per person) into Quilotoa, road tolls, transport and a wonderful guided tour of the countryside as you drive south from Quito and then a hiking guide down to the lake and back up again. The tour includes a breakfast stop in Machachi (own cost), photo stops along the incredible drive and plenty of history and cultural facts and stories, a guided hike on the descent into the lagoon, a lunch stop in Quilotoa (own cost) and a visit to a traditional art gallery and handicraft shop.

jana meerman ecuador (1)

Leaving Quito

jana meerman ecuador (1)

Roadside scenes driving south of Quito

jana meerman ecuador (1)
jana meerman ecuador (1)
jana meerman ecuador (1)

Photo stop at Chami Wayku

QUILOTOA LAKE DESCENT HIKE DETAILS

When: year round

Where: trail begins in Quilotoa and descends straight down to the dock in the centre of the lake

Difficulty: hard; the trail is very steep and sandy so it's slippery on the way down and steep on the way up (you can pay $10 USD for a horse to take you back up)

Length: the return hike is 3.5km, which took me about 1.5 hours roundtrip

Directions: there are two main trails here: the perimeter of the lake, and the descent into the lagoon, both well-marked from the main parking lot in Quilotoa

Bathrooms: yes, at various restaurants in Quilotoa at the crater of the lake

Public Transit: yes, with a Get Your Guide tour, and there is a public bus available as well (check out details here)

jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)

The bottom!

jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)

Juanito, one of the Quilotoan alpacas!

jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)
jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)

The view back at the top after the climb

jana meerman quilotoa lake ecuador (2)

How it feels to finish the hike!


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