Some 20km south of the turn-off to Cotopaxi, LATACUNGA (2800m) is a charming, mid-sized market town huddled on the east bank of the Río Cutuchi. With its handsome, colonial-style buildings and bustling streets, it makes an agreeable base from which to organize forays into this part of the sierra, in particular to the not-to-miss crater lake at Quilotoa, or to the hectic indigenous market in nearby Saquisilí. It also makes an alternative launchpad for trips to Cotopaxi, well catered for by the town’s tour operators. If your visit coincides with either of the town’s two famous and colourful Mama Negra fiestas, one on September 24 and the other on the weekend before November 11, you’ll be treated to a riotous display of parades and street dancing. Otherwise, Latacunga’s charms are a good deal more sedate, and can be enjoyed in an afternoon’s wander around town.

Despite its colonial look, most of Latacunga’s architecture dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century – a fact owed to Cotopaxi’s repeated and devastating eruptions, which have seen the town destroyed and rebuilt five times since its foundaiton in 1534, most recently in 1877. The focal point of town is the Parque Vicente León, a leafy square enclosed by iron railings that is locked after dark. A cathedral, with whitewashed walls both inside and out, dominates the south side, while the austere municipio flanks the east side. A couple of blocks north the twin-towered Iglesia Santo Domingo is the most impressive of the town’s churches, with its Grecian pillars and extravagantly painted interior covered with swirling blue, green and gold designs. Right in front of it, on the little Plazoleta de Santo Domingo, you’ll find a small artesanía market selling knitwear, shigras and other souvenirs (closed Thurs & Sun).


Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ecuador features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

South America has become a favoured destination for the intrepid backpacker, and while it’s impressive in the astounding diversity of its nations, there are a…

02 Mar 2016 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
19 places for a digital detox

19 places for a digital detox

Find peace at Buddhist monastery, Nepal Trim out the religious and/or mystical connotations and Buddhism boils down to something quite simple – brain trai…

14 Nov 2014 • Neil McQuillian camera_alt Gallery
Things to do in Ecuador beyond the Galápagos

Things to do in Ecuador beyond the Galápagos

There's so much more to Ecuador than just the Galápagos. Chitra Ramaswamy went on her own voyage of discovery to find the best things to do in Ecuador, beyond …

07 Nov 2014 • Chitra Ramaswamy insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook