To the Northwest of the town of Otavalo and just 58 km North of Quito stands Cotacachi, a sacred mountain in the religious conception of the northern Indians. It is and old eroded and extinct volcano located in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.
Below its slopes lies the remains of yet another volcano called Cuicocha Crater or Guinea Pig Lagoon, whose caldron was filled by the water of the melting glaciers above, thousands of years ago. Cuicocha is a collapsed volcanic crater that measures 3 km / 1,9 miles in diameter and is about 200 m / 656 ft deep, but still shows signs of activity.


Cuicocha Lake with the IslandDuring the around the crater you can clearly see the lagoon: the name Cuicocha comes from the shape of one of the islands in the middle of the lagoon that resembles the shape of a "cui" or guinea pig.
During the hike you an also enjoy some spectacular ciews of the surrounding mountains and valleys.






Day 1Taking a Rest with the Lake in the Back

  • Pick up at Quito at around 7:30
  • Two and a half hours drive to Cuicocha
  • Five hours hike around the crater
  • Box lunch
  • Back at Quito by 19:00

Important Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.


Also see our Interactive Map.



Cuicocha - Highlights

The Cuicocha Trekking Excursion offers you the following highlights:

      • Hike around the crater of an active volcano.
      • Overwhelming views of the lagoon and the surrounding mountains.
      • Beautiful flora.
      • Optional boat ride around the islands.
      • All year round trekking.

Cuicocha - Logistics

Duration: 1 day

Access: Drive in and drive out

Seasons: All year round

Pre-requisites: Acceptable physical condition

Equipment: Trekking Excursions Gear List
Please download the Pdf


Difficulty Level:



Cuicocha - Suggested Combinations

We suggest the following hike and two tours to complete your trip in Ecuador.
1. Pasochoa
4.200 m / 13,800 ft
2. Papallacta
Hot Springs
3.220 m / 10,562 ft
3. City Tour
We can arrange a tour to the colonial Old Town of Quito.

Trekking Excursions

Andeanface can develop a tailor made itinerary that will give you the opportunity of making the most out of your time, budget and specific interests. We offer the following Trekking Excursions; please contact us ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) for more information, suggestions, and prices about hiking in Ecuador: 
Guagua Pichincha