Quilotoa Crater Equador | Is it worth the trip? | Highlights, Review, Pros & Cons

The Quilotoa Crater was formed during the 13th century when a volcano erupted at this location. After the volcano stopped, the top of the mountain collapsed, leaving behind a caldera that is about two miles wide. Over time, the caldera filled with water.

Dissolved minerals make this lake that is in the Ilinizas Ecological Reserve a beautiful shade of turquoise. The lake is in the Andes Mountains at about 11,500 feet above sea level.

What to Expect When Visiting Ecuador’s Quilotoa Crater

You can take a day trip to Quilotoa Crater or go on a three-day hike to explore the surrounding area that is located three hours south of Ecuador’s capital city. Once you arrive, you can camp inside the caldera, explore the lake from a kayak, and hike clear around the caldera’s rim.

Most people choose to walk the 30 minutes down a path to get to the lake before riding a donkey up the steep path to reach the top again. One of the reasons that visiting Quilotoa Crater is so popular is that it is free. If you choose the three-day experience, you can expect to pay about $70 US dollars for food and a guide.

Watch the Amazing Scenery Unfold at Quilotoa Crater

Feel like you are on an adventure to Quilotoa Crater by watching this video. You can see the steep path that you need to walk down. Then, experience kayaking on this calm lake before watching someone riding a mule as they make the journey back up the rugged path. Keep in mind that this is the fastest way to explore Quilotoa Crater, but there are other options available.


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Highlights of Visiting Quilotoa Crater

The highlights of your Quilotoa Crater trip will depend on how you choose to experience this location. You may:

  • Walk Down to the Crater- It is free to walk down the rugged, 900 foot-long path to the lake and watch the amazing scenery as you trek.
  • Kayak on the Lake- Rent a kayak and experience the quiet of this lake’s coves. Most kayaks are equipped to handle two people, but you can also find kayaking groups if the sport is new to you.
  • Ride a mule- One way to get back up the hill is to ride a mule back to the top and enjoy the views.
  • Hike the Quilotoa Loop- This hiking loop is done in two days by starting at Latacunga, Ecuador, or in three days by starting at Sigchos, Ecuador. While the path goes in both directions, it is easier to hike if you start at the lake and head to Sigchos.
  • Enjoy homestays with local families to get a better understanding of their culture.
  • Drink hot tea and eat the local cuisine at restaurants near the lake while enjoying scenic views.
  • Go camping inside the caldera.

Negatives of Visiting Quilotoa Crater in Ecuador

Like any experience, you can expect some negatives along with the positives. You may want to prepare for them, which allows you to make the experience better overall. Negatives include:

  • The weather- It can be freezing at any time of the year because of the altitude. Prepare for daytime highs in the low 70s year-round and remember that you may get wet when exploring the lake.
  • Heavy rains often fall unexpectantly at Quilotoa Crater. You are most likely to get wet in April when over 6 inches of rain falls typically.
  • You may experience a language barrier. While many speak Spanish, some older citizens in the area speak only Quechua.
  • Signs along the path are put up by local hostels, and they may be missing or contradictory.

Summary of Visiting Quilotoa Crater

The Quilotoa Crater is a unique place to visit because of its turquoise lake created when the top of the mountain fell in following a volcano during the 13th century. You can explore this area by hiking, kayaking, or camping. Various homestays are available.

You can hire a guide or explore the breathtaking scenery on your own, but be aware that the weather can change rapidly, and trail markers can be confusing. Nonetheless, if you are an adventurer, then you want to put this site on your travel list.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • zoritoler imol
    July 4, 2022 12:13 pm

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