Quilotoa Andean Circuit
from $245per person
Explore the famous Quilotoa Loop from the award-winning Black Sheep Inn in Chugchilán, including Quilotoa Lake, Illinizas Cloud Forest, Toachi River Canyon, Zumbahua, Tigua, and more.
The Cotopaxi province is more than just the Cotopaxi Volcano. Here you find one of the most beautiful aquatic spectacles in Ecuador: Quilotoa Crater Lake. This rarely visited region is slowly appearing in guidebooks and travel blogs due to its natural beauty and excellent hiking options. The Quilotoa Circuit features 4 distinct climatic zones accented by a multiplicity of landscapes.
Our base camp is the Black Sheep Inn, an authentic eco-lodge in every respect, built in 1995 and located in the little village of Chugchilán, about 20 km (12 miles) from Quilotoa. This award-winning establishment serves delicious vegetarian food and offers unlimited coffee/tea/water for its guests. Boasting a lovely yoga studio, a cozy reading room, plus a unique sauna, it prides itself of scenic bathrooms, that is, composting toilets with a panoramic view! Without a doubt, your time here will be well spent.
Welcome to this hikers’ paradise!
DAY 1. ARRIVAL
Your adventure starts in Quito, traveling south on the Pan-American Highway. Depending on the day of the week, visit a local market or a rose plantation. Continue to the northern entrance of the Quilotoa Circuit, passing through the town of Sigchos and arriving to Chugchilán for a late lunch.
The afternoon is set aside to enjoy leisure time at the lodge or head out for a short trek, i.e. Ridge Hike or Plateau Hike, ½ hour to 2 hours, depending on your pace. (Box Lunch / Dinner)
DAY 2. FULL DAY ACTIVITIES
Drive to Quilotoa Lake (3,900 meters or 12,900 feet above sea level) and take some time to take in the amazing view of its turquoise water framed by the massive caldera. A descent to the bottom is possible either on foot or on mule back! Then, it’s a long hike from the lake to Chugchilán via Guayama, offering one of the most outstanding Andean vistas in Ecuador. The mostly downhill hike takes 4 to 6 hours, depending on your physical condition. (Breakfast / Box Lunch / Dinner)
DAY 3. FULL DAY ACTIVITIES
Explore the lush Illinizas cloud forest, hiking or on horseback. From Chugchilán, the road climbs into the páramo – the high-altitude grasslands above the tree line. You have the option to visit a locally-run cheese factory that was started 30 years ago by Swiss missionaries. Our local guide will show you the trails through the forest and point out medicinal plants, bird life, waterfalls, and other points of interest.
The afternoon offers a visit to a wood-carving workshop in the town of Chinaló. (Breakfast / Box Lunch / Dinner)
DAY 4. DEPARTURE
Drive back to Quilotoa and continue to Tigua, famous for its naive paintings on stretched sheep skin, depicting the lifestyles and traditions of its natives, while having an amicable chat with the artists. Then, continue to Zumbahua and Pujilí in the lower inter-Andean valleys (we visit the markets if they coincide with the day of the week). Then it’s back on the Pan-American Highway for our return journey to Quito. (Breakfast)
*If you have more time, there are other hiking/horseback riding options: Chugchilán to Isinliví hike via Guantualo village; Río Toachi Canyon hike via Itualo and Chinalo villages.
2019 Rates (per person in double occupancy; minimum 2 people)
|Type of Accommodation||Rates|
|Dormitory (shared bathroom)||$245|
|Standard Room (shared bathroom)||$325|
|Deluxe Room (private bathroom)||$385|
*The Black Sheep Inn serves only vegetarian food and all of the bathrooms have composting toilets in keeping with its ecological tenets.