When I first heard about Quilotoa loop trek I wasn’t exactly sure what it is. I only knew that at some point, there is a volcano on a very high altitude, with a lake inside, that you walk through valleys, indigenous villages, and that the view is spectacular. I started to read more about the hike and what you can do there but I still didn’t exactly understand what is the best way to do it. I just knew I want to do it, cause I like to walk and I love nature. After I have read the Lonely Planet and some blogs online it was finally clear to me. The best way to do the Quilotoa loop trek is to start in Latacunga and spend a night there. Then the most common and recommended way is to take a bus in Latacunga, drive to Sigchos and start to walk there, spend a night in Inslivi, next day hike to Chugchilan, spend the night there and finish the loop in Quilotoa, see the crater, and take a bus back to Latacunga. Here is how we did the Quilotoa loop trek, and a map as well.
We arrived in Latacunga one day before, we decided to spend a night there, leave the big bags in the hostel and start early in the morning. We stayed in Latacunga hostel, it is simple and it has a good price, you can leave the big bags there for free. Click HERE to get 10% discount on your next Booking. We woke up early, had breakfast, and walked to the bus station.
The first bus was at 9:30 am, we took it, I recommend you to do the same. The ticket cost 2,3$ (2€) the ride takes 2 hours. A couple of kilometers before Sigchos the road was closed, they just closed it (of course), they said they are building a road. Instead of waiting for 1,5 hour, we decided that we will walk to Sigchos, it was supposed to be one hour walk. We walked steep uphill and when we reached the top a very nice guy with a pickup stopped us and took us (I think he drove like half of our bus) to Sigchos for 0,5$ (0,44€), he dropped us where the trek starts and told us to go straight.
The beginning was super nice, we walked downhill to the valley, crossed the river, the view was beautiful. After we crossed the river, the uphill walk started. We got a bit lost in the way, went offroad to a very steep hill, the storm caught us on the way, but we managed to reach Inslivi, we were soaking wet when we reached the hostel. It is really easy to get lost on the trek, cause the road is not very clear. Sometimes you have sidewalks into nature, which is not part of the main road. Also, signs that show different directions which in the end all lead to the same place. But don’t stress about it, you will meet locals on the way, the will be glad to help you find the way.
We stayed in a top end hostel, it was so nice that it really was a reward after a long day. We paid 19$ (16,9€) each, got the last double room available (we didn’t book in advance, we were very lucky). For 19$ we got dinner, breakfast, jacuzzi, sauna, hot shower, yoga studio, hot drink for free, a really comfy bed and a free drinking water refill. I highly recommend, in Europe, you would pay more than 100$ (89,3€) for accommodation like this, the lodge is called Llullu Llama. Click HERE to get 10% on your stay.
We woke up early, had breakfast at 8 am and start the trek at 9 am. We got maps of Quliotoa loop trek in our hotel, you can enlarge and print screen them, I will put them under the text, I hope it helps you.
It was a beautiful day when we start the hike and we were full of energy. After half an hour we got lost again but it was all worth it cause the view was magnificent. Again the trek started up and then continue walking down the valley, I didn’t like it cause it means that eventually, we will need to walk back up up up. We reached the same river that we crossed the first day, we crossed it and walked in the valley for a while.
Then the uphill started, it was like 800 m up, we had to stop to catch some breath in between. Then it was the walk on the main road, that was the annoying part, it seemed that it will never end.
When we reached Chugchilan (super tired), we asked for accommodation in a hostel called Cloud forest, it is the most popular between hikers. We paid 15$ each and got a private room with bathroom, hot shower, tasty dinner, and even tastier breakfast.
We decided to start the hike earlier than yesterday cause people told us that the third day is the hardest. We woke up at 7 am, had delicious breakfast, filled the water bottles (0,5$) and we were ready to start the hike.
Cause we used all the food we bought at the beginning of the trek, we decided to buy packed lunch, they offered it in the hostel. Great lunch, we felt like in primary school again in the bag it was a sandwich, banana, apple, chips, cookies, a cake, and ice tea, and it cost only 3$.
We started the hike, walked through the village, and turned left at the library. We continue the trek down again, reached the canyon, crossed the river and then the first uphill started. It was hard but the view on the top was once again worth it.
After taking photos we continued the hike, walking uphill, more and more. I was very happy when we reached Quilotoa lake, when we got there it was foggy, we couldn’t see anything but after 5 minutes it started to get clear. It was also cold, bring warm clothes.
After Quilotoa you have around an hour more hike to reach Qilotoa village and there you can catch a bus to Latacunga, the last one goes at 4 pm. It cost us 2$ (1,78€) and took us 2 hours.
Great for budget travelers and nature lovers
The trek is perfect for travelers that are on a budget. You don’t need a guide, accommodation is cheap, and we even brought some food with us, it lasted for two days. You only need to eat lunch cause dinner and breakfast included. In 3 days we spend less than 100$ together, everything included: transportation, food, water, sleep. All together I think we walked around 50 km, the first day was the easiest and the third day for sure the hardest. I would say that the trek is good for people that love to walk I think also somebody that doesn’t do trekking a lot can do it cause you can make your own paste, and walk slow.
What to bring with you
As I mentioned before, we left our big bags in Latacunga, I think it is a common thing to do so they are used to it. I really don’t advise you to go on the trek with the big bag, I saw some people with it and I’m almost sure they were suffering. We took just the small backpack and we really wanted to travel light, so we packed: 1 trekking pants, 1 pants for sleeping, 3 pair of socks, 3 pair of underwear, 3 t-shirts, 1 hoodie, 1 long sleeve t-shirt, 1 raincoat (don’t forget that one), 1 towel, 1 headlight.
We also had some toilet paper, and of course products for personal hygiene. I think it was enough, the only time I was cold was at the lake Quilotoa but we didn’t stay there for long so it was manageable.
There is no ATMs during the trek so bring enough money as well.
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