Introducing The Quilotoa Loop
Bumping along the spectacular dirt roads of the Quilotoa loop and hiking between the area’s Andean villages is one of Ecuador’s most exhilarating adventures. Transportation is tricky but the rewards are abundant: highland markets, the breathtaking crater lake of Laguna Quilotoa, splendid hikes and traditional highland villages. Most of the villages along the loop have only basic accommodations, but you can base yourself in Chugchilán, which has good lodging options for all wallet sizes. (Tigua is another option.) One of the best parts of the loop is the fact that you’ll have many chances, especially in Quilotoa, to interact with indigenous folks. They can seem somewhat withdrawn at first, but are friendly and talkative once the ice is broken, especially if you speak some Spanish or – even better – Quichua.
Transportation is infrequent, and you may have to walk for long distances or wait for hours, so always carry warm clothes, a water bottle, some snacks and maybe even a sleeping bag.
The loop is explained heading clockwise from Latacunga, although you can travel in reverse with no problems.