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Central Highlands

Getting there & around

No towns in the central highlands have public airports. You’ll have to get around by bus. Buses, of course, go just about everywhere. The most important transportation hubs are Latacunga, Ambato, Baños, Riobamba and Guaranda.

Most people get around the Quilotoa loop by public transportation, which is fun but takes patience. No buses go all the way around the loop. From Latacunga, they only go as far as Chugchilán, and they either go clockwise (via Zumbahua and Quilotoa) or counterclockwise (via Saquisilí and Sigchos). Tigua is served by passing buses.

If you don’t wish to take public transportation, you could hire a taxi in Latacunga. They’ll do the whole route in a long day starting at around $50. The road is the worst between Quilotoa and Sigchos; it’s now paved from Latacunga to Quilotoa.

The following schedule lists public transportation going both directions on the loop. The times listed here are rough (like the road) so always be ready a little early.

Bear with us – transportation on the loop is confusing.

CLOCKWISE

Latacunga–Chugchilán (direct)

The bus via Zumbahua departs daily from Latacunga at noon, passing Zumbahua at around 1:30pm, Laguna Quilotoa at around 2pm and arriving in Chugchilán at about 4pm ($4).

Latacunga–Zumbahua

Transportes Cotopaxi buses ($2, two hours) bound for Quevedo depart hourly from Latacunga’s bus terminal, and drop passengers a short walk from Zumbahua.

Zumbahua–Laguna Quilotoa

Trucks can be hired for $5; the rate goes up if there’s more than two of you. The Latacunga–Chugchilán bus passes around 1:30pm, and the trip from Zumbahua to Laguna Quilotoa takes approximately 45 minutes.

Laguna Quilotoa–Chugchilán

To get from Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilán take the Latacunga–Chugchilán bus between 2pm and 2:30pm ($2, two hours).

Chugchilán–Latacunga (direct)

Good morning! Buses via Sigchos leave Monday through Friday at 3am, passing Sigchos at around 4am, Saquisilí at around 7am and arriving in Latacunga around 8am. On Saturday this bus departs at 7am. On Sunday you must switch buses in Sigchos. You can also return via Zumbahua ($4).

Chugchilán–Sigchos

A daily milk truck ($1) leaves Chugchilán between 8:30am and 9am taking about one hour to reach Sigchos, allowing you to avoid the 3am Chugchilán–Latacunga bus. Two other buses go to Sigchos on Thursday afternoon. Sunday departures are at 4am, 5am, noon and between 1pm to 3pm and 7pm to 9pm.

Sigchos–Latacunga

The bus from Sigchos to Latacunga ($1.50, two hours) departs daily at 2:30pm from beside the church. Additional buses leave on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise catch the passing bus from Chugchilán at around 7am. Both stop in Saquisilí.

Saquisilí–Latacunga

Buses ($0.25, 20 minutes) depart Plaza Concordia in Saquisilí every 10 minutes.

COUNTERCLOCKWISE

Latacunga–Chugchilán

The bus via Sigchos departs daily at 11:30am, passing Saquisilí just before noon and Sigchos at around 2pm, arriving in Chugchilán around 3:30pm. This bus leaves Latacunga’s bus terminal an hour earlier (10:30am) on Saturdays ($4).

Latacunga–Saquisilí

Buses ($0.25, 20 minutes) depart from Latacunga’s bus terminal every 10 minutes.

Latacunga–Sigchos

Transportes Nacional Saquisilí buses leave Latacunga’s bus terminal at 9am daily Friday to Wednesday. On Sunday, an additional bus ($1.50, 2½ hours) leaves at 3:30am.

Sigchos–Chugchilán

Take the passing bus from Latacunga ($2, leaves around 2pm or the daily milk truck ($1), which leaves Sigchos daily at 7:30am; the trip takes about one hour.

Chugchilán–Latacunga (direct)

Buses to Latacunga via Zumbahua leave Chugchilán Monday through Friday at 4am, passing Quilotoa (two hours) at around 6am, Zumbahua (about 2½ hours) at around 6:30am and arriving in Latacunga (about four hours) around 8am. On Saturday this bus leaves at 3am, and on Sunday it leaves at 6am and 10am ($4).