Some 90km west of Latacunga and the Panamericana, in one of the most beautiful parts of the Andes, the isolated Laguna Quilotoa is a spectacular emerald-coloured crater lake. It’s most directly approached along the road from Latacunga to Quevedo, via the villages of Pujilí, Tigua and Zumbahua. Once there, you can take a different route back, heading north to the villages of Chugchilán and Sigchos, then southeast to rejoin the Panamericana near the market village of Saquisilí. This route – totalling around 200km – often referred to as the Quilotoa loop or the Quilotoa circuit, can just as easily be done in the opposite direction to that described below. If you can, try to time your stay in Zumbahua with the Saturday-morning market, one of the most fascinating in the sierra, or one of the major Catholic festivals like Epiphany or Corpus Christi; both are wonderful spectacles.

You’ll find accommodation in Tigua, Zumbahua, Quilotoa, Chugchilán and Sigchos, but most of it is pretty basic, with the main exceptions of Tigua and Chugchilán. If you want to sleep in the simpler places, particularly at Quilotoa at 3850m, a warm sleeping bag is a welcome bonus as it gets very cold at night. Count on spending a minimum of two days to do this route; it’s much better to take three or more nights if you want to do it at a more relaxing pace, which will also give you time to explore the magnificent countryside with hikes or horse rides. If you are driving around the loop in your own vehicle, there are filling stations in Sigchos and Zumbahua stocking extra and diesel.






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