Quilotoa Trek

Discover the emerald jewel of the Ecuadorian Andes





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.

You 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.

Arrive/Depart: Quito

Group Size: Open to private groups

Pre-requisites: Good physical condition

Difficulty Levels: Moderate

Accomodation: 3 nights at Haciendas VIEW LODGING

Activity: Trekking / Wildlife & Natural History / Cultural Exploration

Seasons: All year round

Equipment: Trekking Expeditions Gear List
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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.

Activity: Driving / Sightseeing / Trekking

Accommodation: Hacienda Posada de Tigua

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Lunch, Dinner


Walk from Tigua to Quilotoa Crater [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.

Activity: 5-6 hours trekking

Accommodation: Mountain Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


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.

Activity: 4-5 hours trekking

Accommodation: Mama Hilda’s Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


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.

Activity: 4 hours hiking / Drive back to Quito

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


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


  • 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




Our Complimentary Extension Packages offer great opportunities to explore some of Ecuador’s most dramatic scenaries, which have earned the country a reputation as one of the most bio diverse and unique regions on the planet.

We work with carefully selected tourism operators, which will offer the same quality and high standards of service that our clients expect from us.

You can choose from a selection of various (active) outdoor activities in the Galapagos, the Cloud Forest or Amazon Jungle. We highly recommend to extent your trip with a rafting experience.



Scheduled Dates

We run this trip only on private basis for groups.

Please send us an e-mail to book this
Antisana Trek & Climb Expedition.

2021 Prices

2 pax - USD 680 per person
3 pax - USD 610 per person
4+ pax - USD 535 per person

Trip Cost Includes

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

Trip Cost Does Not Include

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


You will discover one of the most picturesque areas of the Ecuadorian Andes and its unique people and culture. Our team is formed by the best Ecuadorian hiking guides. Our guides are an integral part of Andeanface because they understand and share our principles. The quality of our guiding staff is what makes us stand out from other companies. The accomodation used during this expedition gives it an added value, some nights are spent in Haciendas, which are traditional fams houses converted into mountain lodges.