A highly underrated must-see, the western most volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes, Quilotoa is a 3km (2 mi) wide caldera that collapsed and filled with water and is now over 250m (820ft) deep. The rich turquoise color is a result of mineral deposits.
The town of Quilotoa is actually at the “summit” and it can be accessed by car, bus, or taxi. Visitors typically travel from Latacunga or Zumbahua.
To access the lake, visitors must pay $2. If you want to hike down into the crater, it is advised that you secure a guide and mule in the town of Quilotoa but it is not required.
Camping is permitted in the crater but there is no potable water, so make sure to bring your own.
Another option for the more adventurous is to visit Quilotoa on the Quilotoa Loop, a difficult but rewarding 3-5 day hike.
If you want to dial up the experience, consider renting a kayak or taking a boat trip out on to the lake.
A few things to keep in mind:
- It gets very cold at night – it’s high altitude – bring warm clothes
- The hostels in town are extremely basic and sometimes the power is out
- Bring extra snacks with you – your options in town aren’t big
- Good hiking shoes are a must – the terrain is uneven and rough