Laguna Quilotoa

Lake Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater lake located at 3800 meters (12,400 feet) between the towns of Zumbahua and Chugchilán. 

Lake Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater lake located at 3800 meters (12,400 feet) between the towns of Zumbahua and Chugchilán.  Its emerald water spans two kilometers.  Local legend claims it is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulfuric.  Quilotoa is an active volcano, the last major eruption was over 850 years ago. 

We recommend taking a local native guide for the world famous hike from Laguna Quilotoa, through the Rio Toachi Canyon, to the town Chugchilán (where the Black Sheep Inn is located).  This is one of the best day hikes in Ecuador.  (Quilotoa hike details)  If you are not in the mood for a big hike, Lake Quilotoa is also accessible by car or bus.  The first hour of crater rim walk is quite gentle, and affords plenty of spectacular views of the emerald laguna below.

Hiking down from the crater rim to the lakeside is also an option.  Descent takes 30 minutes, an climbing back up takes about an hour.  Yes, it is possible to swim in the lake, but the water is very cold (5° celcius).  Coming back up from the laguna, you can hire a mule to ride for a few dollars.

Related Destinations

Local Indigenous Markets

Andean tradition thrives in this area and local markets provide many opportunities to observe how people have been trading for thousands of years

Local People

Traditional techniques of farming, building and animal husbandry are still in use.

Cheese Factory – in the high paramó

Local people were unable to transport fresh milk to the larger cities, the project built a cheese factory using Swiss techniques

Iliniza Cloud Forest

A lush realm of biodiversity draped in mist, where verdant foliage thrives amidst swirling clouds, offering a sanctuary for diverse flora and fauna.

Chinalo Furniture Workshop

About two kilometers down the road from Black Sheep Inn is the community of Chinalo, where the Don Bosco Mission is located.

Canyon Plateau

A sprawling expanse of dramatic cliffs and rugged terrain, sculpted by the hands of time, offering a glimpse into Earth’s geological history and captivating the adventurous spirit within.

Rio Toachi Canyon

A spectacular testament to the forces of nature, etched deep into the heart of Ecuador’s terrain, enchants with its vast expanse and rugged grandeur, inviting exploration and contemplation

Ilinizas Twin Peaks

The iconic twin peaks stand as a breathtaking geological marvel, captivating adventurers and scientists alike with their rugged beauty and unique formation.

Cotopaxi Volcano

Iconic Andean volcano, Cotopaxi, stands sentinel with its snow-capped peak, symbolizing both beauty and danger.

Laguna Quilotoa

Lake Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater lake located at 3800 meters (12,400 feet) between the towns of Zumbahua and Chugchilán.