Best of Quilotoa

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Quilotoa
One of Ecuador’s most photogenic sights is the volcanic crater lake of Quilotoa. The steep-sided caldera forms a perfect loop around the waters, which are often tinged a rich blue-green hue owing to its high mineral content. You can visit on a day trip or make it part of a longer trekking itinerary in the highlands, spending the night at indigenous villages in the mountains along the way. 

A long but rewarding hike around the crater rim offers the best views over the lake as well as the snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi and Illiniza beyond. You can complete the loop in about six hours. For a shorter jaunt, make the descent down to the water’s edge, where the mirror-like surface reflects the crater rim on clear, calm days (you can hire a donkey for the steeper return journey if you need a boost). This is also a great spot for mountain biking with some exciting trails near the lake.
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You'll horseback ride to exciting locales, like the edge of Ecuador's Quilotoa Lagoon
Map of Ecuadorian Andes on Horseback: Machachi Valley to Quilotoa & Back - 9 Days
Ecuadorian Andes on Horseback: Machachi Valley to Quilotoa & Back - 9 Days

Get to know the Ecuadorian highlands on this nine-day horseback riding adventure. Start in the verdant Machachi Valley and acclimate to the elevation before taking on longer rides up the Corazón volcano in Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve. Learn about "chagras," Ecuadorian cowboys, and follow the same paths used by the Inca and countless hikers as you approach Quilotoa Lagoon via the Quilotoa Loop.

The road leading to Cotopaxi
Map of Trekking Ecuador's Avenue of the Volcanoes - 8 Days
Trekking Ecuador's Avenue of the Volcanoes - 8 Days

This eight-day trekking adventure delivers the highlights of the Ecuadorian Andes as you explore stunning landscapes, secluded villages, and the famous peaks along the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Hike along narrow mountain trails in the heart of the Andes as you make your way up the Quilotoa and Chimborazo volcanoes. Swim in the icy waters of Lake Quilotoa, then relax in the natural hot springs at Baños.

Pichincha volcano is just one of the three volcanoes you'll hike
Map of Hiking & Culture in Ecuador: Volcanoes, Lakes & Ancient Ruins - 16 Days
Hiking & Culture in Ecuador: Volcanoes, Lakes & Ancient Ruins - 16 Days

Strike out on an adventure across Ecuador's most famous regions, from the highlands to the Amazon rainforest. It begins in Quito with a tour of the capital's UNESCO-listed colonial center and cultural monuments before hiking to waterfalls, lakes, and volcanoes in the highland Cotopaxi region. Then, explore awe-inspiring pre-Incan ruins before rounding out the adventure with canoe rides and nature hikes in the pristine Amazon forests at Yasuní National Park.

Cordillera Occidental Andes Central Ecuador
Map of Ecuador: Amazon, Andes, and the Coast - 16 Days
Ecuador: Amazon, Andes, and the Coast - 16 Days

Explore the best of Ecuador in this 16-day tour through the Amazon, Andes, and Coastal regions. You'll visit beautiful colonial towns, indigenous communities, and experience ways of life both ancient and modern in this diverse country.

Baby Alpaca
Map of Multi Country South America Adventure: Ecuador & Peru - 14 Days
Multi Country South America Adventure: Ecuador & Peru - 14 Days

Experience the best of Ecuador's mainland and Peru's highlights on this two-week trip. Start in Quito to tour the UNESCO-designated city center, then head to the Amazon for cultural experiences with the Kichwa indigenous community, wildlife viewing, and a peaceful rainforest atmosphere. Return to Quito by way of Cotopaxi National Park, home to the eponymous volcano. Then, catch a flight to Lima—the urban hub of Peru. End the trip with a visit to Cusco's pre-Inca ruins and a tour of the Sacred Valley and imperial Machu Picchu residence.

"Chagras" Cowboys in Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Trekking in Ecuador's Highlands: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, & More - 14 Days
Trekking in Ecuador's Highlands: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, & More - 14 Days

Spend two weeks exploring mountainous landscapes in a country that's equally famous for its volcanoes and rainforest. From Quito's colonial city center to the high-elevation hacienda refuge on Cotopaxi, you'll trek through historic sites and stunning nature. Spot rare Andean condors, haggle for goods at a mountain market, summit volcanoes, and more. 

Explore the Ecuadorian Amazon by canoe
Map of Ecuador's Pacific Coast to the Andes & Amazon - 15 Days
Ecuador's Pacific Coast to the Andes & Amazon - 15 Days

Ecuador boasts a wide variety of geographical regions, each with its own distinct landscapes and ecosystems. Spend 15 days exploring the country from the shores of the Isla de la Plata to the verdant rainforests of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Along the way, you'll hike past volcanoes, crater lakes, and Inca ruins in the highlands and visit some of Ecuador's largest cities, like Guayaquil and Quito.

The colorful neighborhoods of Guayaquil
Map of Culture, Nature & Wildlife in Ecuador: From the Pacific to the Highlands & Into the Amazon - 16 Days
Culture, Nature & Wildlife in Ecuador: From the Pacific to the Highlands & Into the Amazon - 16 Days

Ecuador delivers massive doses of natural beauty and rich culture. Dive deep into both on this 16-day journey, starting on the coast, from the tree-lined waterfront in Guayaquil to the mangroves of ecological reserves. After exploring the coast, travel inland to see ruins, colonial landmarks, and national parks around Cuenca, then venture into the Amazon to visit native villages and enjoy rainforest adventures before winding up in Quito to browse the historic Otavalo Market.

The Chimborazo Volcano
Map of Volcanoes of Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Guayaquil - 7 Days
Volcanoes of Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Guayaquil - 7 Days

This weeklong itinerary is perfect for travelers who are interested in seeing the astoundingly beautiful landscapes of Ecuador. Travel along the Andean highlands to see ancient volcanoes, sacred waterfalls, and lagoons before ending your trip in the lush coastal lowlands. At the end of each adventurous day, you will be able to relax at beautifully restored haciendas that will allow you to step back in time.

Cuicocha Lagoon
Map of Ecuador Mountains to Coast: Andes, Quito, Cotopaxi, & More - 10 Days
Ecuador Mountains to Coast: Andes, Quito, Cotopaxi, & More - 10 Days

From Quito's colonial center to the volcanoes of Cotopaxi National Park, explore the best of Ecuador's mainland on this packed 10-day itinerary. Hike along the rim of volcanic lagoons, barter for Ecuadorian handicrafts at markets, and visit small mountain villages. You'll see cascading waterfalls, lush orchid farms, high altitude plateaus, and much more as you traverse the countryside.

Volcano in Ecuador
Map of Ecuador Cities & Volcanoes: Quito to Cotopaxi - 12 Days
Ecuador Cities & Volcanoes: Quito to Cotopaxi - 12 Days

Visit the cities and volcanoes of beautiful Ecuador on this 12-day adventure. Start in the nation's capital, exploring its well-preserved colonial center and other cultural highlights. Then, head out on a busy tour through small towns like Cotacachi, enjoying several indigenous markets and villages along the way. You will also check off wondrous volcanoes like Pasachoa and Cotopaxi, as well as the unique paramo ecosystem of Chimborazo. The final leg of the trip takes you to Ecuador's lovely third city, Cuenca, before going full circle and ending in Quito again.

Other popular travel destinations in Ecuador
Quito · Baños · Cotopaxi · Otavalo · Guayaquil · Cuenca · The Amazon · Riobamba · Yasuni National Park · Papallacta · Tena · Archidona · Mindo · Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve · Isinliví · Cacha · Lago Agrio