Quilotoa Trek

Quilotoa Trek

The highlands and the rocky peaks around the local villages in the Western part of the Cotopaxi Province, are an undiscovered treasure that have maintained their distinctly Andean and indigenous character. Indigenous, remote, high and dry are four words that perfectly define this unique area of Ecuador. Andeanface offers you a four days Trekking Expedition with moderate hiking through this beautiful scenery. 


Girl From QuilotoaYou will find a beautiful crater lagoon, patches of cloud forest and a very defined dry highland vegetation. The people who inhabit this area are very warm-hearted local Indians who live very simple but rough lives, fighting against the harsh conditions of their environment.
The Quilotoa region has stayed untouched by the massive visits of tourists, which has kept the area and its people basically unchanged since the last centuries.

Day 1
Drive and Hike to Posada Tigua - Visit the Town of Tigua
After an interesting journey along the Pan-American Highway we get to the city of Latacunga. From here we start heading towards the western range of the Cotopaxi Province. We will pass the little village of Pujilí, known for its colourful Indian market that takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays. After Pujilí we will follow a dusty road climbing up the Eastern "cordillera", or mountain range. There will be fantastic views of the Inter-Andean Valley and the Andean highlands.
On the way there we will have a chance to visit the Tigua Painters' Gallery. The indigenous artists of the small village of Tigua are famous for their colourful paintings depicting their life in this particular area of the Andes.
The paintings made on sheep leather reflect the history, festivals and legends of a people whose traditions date back to pre-Inca times. Living much as they have lived for centuries, families herd sheep and llamas, and cultivate a variety of potatoes and grains in small communities perched on the windswept slopes of the mountains. Their language is Quichua, the language of the Inca Empire. We stay the night at Posada Tigua, a farmhouse that was converted in a B&B hostel.

Day 2 Walking Down to the Quilotoa Crater
Walk from Tigua to Quilotoa Crater at 3.800 m /12,464 ft

Today we walk five hours to Quilotoa. From Tigua there is trail that leads to the crater, passing through the fields of small private farms. On the way we will see some little "chozas", very basic Indian huts, where the local families live. Children will follow us and try to make conversation!
The objective of today would be to reach the crater early in the afternoon. Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater-lake 3 kilometres in diameter. Its emerald water spans two kilometres. Local legend claims it is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulphuric. Once there, we will see a 280 m / 918 ft drop down to the water. The hike down normally takes 40 minutes and one hour to climb up.
At the crater you will have an opportunity to buy the famous naive Tigua paintings and carved wooden masks. The night will be spent in a basic Indian lodge.

Quilotoa Landscape with CanionDay 3
Hike from Quilotoa to the Village of Chugchilán
Hiking from Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilán we will have beautiful views of the canyon of Toachi River. First we will walk by the crater edge with impressive views of the lagoon inside, until we descend to the plateau where lies the small indigenous village of Huayama. As we descend the switch back trails down to the Toachi River Gorge, the climate and scenery changes dramatically. Soon we will be surrounded by the canyon walls and hike along the river banks. The hike ranges from 4 to 5 hours and is moderately challenging.
We will be staying at Mama Hilda’s Lodge. It is a basic, but friendly and clean hostel run by Doña Hilda, a warm hearted Ecuadorian lady. Chugchilán is a well known destination for hikers. This little town is a typical village of a mountain region in Ecuador. It has a small plaza, a church and a school, and most of the people still use a horse or donkey as transport. Here we will feel like a few hundred years back in history.

Day 4Market of Zumbahua
Walk around Chugchilán and Drive to Quito

There are a couple of options for half day hikes around Chugchilán that you can discuss with your guide; either visiting the local cheese factory, hiking towards the town of Sigchos or simply exploring the surroundings by yourself.
Or if you prefer, you can enjoy the quietness and peacefulness of the village from the hammocks at Mama Hilda's. After lunch we drive back to the central valley and head to Quito.

Important Note: Please note that this itinerary is a guide line only. We will do every effort to follow it, but in case of unforeseen circumstances we may have to make changes.


Also see our Interactive Map.

Quilotoa Trek


Quilotoa Trek - Departures



With a minimum of 2 hikers we can run this trek at almost any time.

Please send us an This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book this Quilotoa Trek.

Quilotoa Trek - Logistics

Duration: 4 days

Access: Drive in and drive out

Seasons: All year round

Pre-requisites: Backpacking experience

Equipment: Trekking Expeditions Gear List
Please download the Pdf

Accommodation: Hostels


Difficulty Level:


Quilotoa Trek - Prices

2 pax USD 680,00 per person
3 pax USD 610,00 per person
4 pax or more USD 535,00 per person

What the price includes

      • All transport by private vehicles during the program when needed.
      • All the food once out of Quito.
      • Accommodation during the tour.
      • Permits and park fees.
      • Bilingual guide.

The price does not include

      • International flights.
      • Travel insurance.
      • Accommodation and meals while in Quito.
      • Alcoholic drinks.
      • Extras, laundry, tips.

Quilotoa Trek - Highlights

During this trip you trek through a unique area of Ecuador:

      • Moderate hiking in a non tourist area.
      • Experiencing the rural life of a unique and isolated region.
      • Staying in basic community lodges, thus contributing to their economy.
      • Visiting the Indian markets of the region.
      • Highest altitude 3.800 m / 2,464 ft.

Quilotoa Trek - Markets

Indigenous markets around the Quilotoa region:

Monday: Guantualo, a small, non-touristy rural community market.
Tuesday: Latacunga, a large market in the biggest town of the area.
Wednesday: Pujilí, a small market runs this day, but Sunday’s market is bigger.
Thursday: Saquisilí, the biggest indigenous market of Ecuador.
Friday: No markets.
Saturday: Zumbahua, a morning market surrounded by beautiful scenery, very indigenous and colourful.
Sunday: Chugchilán, Guangaje and Pujilí markets.

Trekking Expeditions

Andeanface offers you two Trekking Expeditions, multiple day hiking adventures that go off the beaten track towards two chosen beautiful regions of the central Andes of Ecuador:

Cotopaxi Challenge - 5 days / 3 mountains

Quilotoa Trek - 4 days / 35 kms