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Are you ready to visit one of the most stunning and magical places in Ecuador? The Quilotoa Lagoon is one of the places that will take your breath away! The Quilotoa, which means “Princess Diamond ” in Kichwa, is one of the westernmost volcanoes of the Andes.

Due to the collapse of the volcano about 800 years ago, a caldera of almost 9 km in diameter was formed inside the crater. Inside it, a spectacular lagoon of greenish and bluish tones has formed. Its dazzling color is due to the minerals found at the bottom. 

Thanks to the great scenic beauty of Quilotoa Lagoon, according to Twistedsifter, it has been listed as one of the 15 most beautiful volcanic lagoons in the world.

The Quilotoa offers all visitors the opportunity to enjoy various activities, from hiking, kayaking, camping, while delighting with the amazing scenery. So continue reading this Quilotoa crater lake guide to learn all about this enchanted place. 

Quilotoa volcano
Quilotoa volcano


The Quilotoa area is located southeast of Quito, within Illinizas Ecological Reserve, in the province of Cotopaxi. 

Around the area there are communities offering visitors to learn a little more about the culture and traditions. In addition to being able to explore their craft markets, buy souvenirs and taste the typical food. 

The highlights of visiting Quilotoa is hiking around the crater, which is a long but amazing trek. The other aspect is the turquoise water lagoon that will leave you fascinated and even more if you have the opportunity to practice kayaking. 

Quilotoa lagoon
Quilotoa lagoon trail


  • Weather

You can visit Quilotoa Lagoon at any time of the year. But due to the fact that certain months of the year the weather is cold, it is advisable to visit this enchanted place in drier months such as June and September or at the beginning of the year.

  • High Season

The times when there is a greater demand of people are on weekends and especially on holidays or festivities such as Christmas and New Year’s Day where vacations are long. Therefore during these dates accommodations may be booked out and prices also tend to go up. 

  • Festivals 

One of the best known festivals in the province of Cotopaxi is the Mama Negra. A festival full of tradition, culture, colors, music, costumes and processions. This typical festival is celebrated in late September and early November. 


Knowing Quilotoa Loop

Quilotoa Loop experience allows visitors know the heart of the indigenous peoples to learn about culture and ways of life. 

The trek runs through several communities in the Andean region, such as the Quilotoa village, located on the edge of the crater lake. Isinlivi, a village where you can hike, Tigua, a village of artists and painters. And finally Chugchilan and Sigchos, two of the largest towns. Here you can visit local markets, go horseback riding and visit the cheese factory.

Enjoying the views from Quilotoa’s lookout point

One of the best ways to appreciate all the scenic beauty of the entire Quilotoa area is from the viewpoint. This wooden and glass lookout is located near the parking lot, here you can take the best pictures of the Turquoise waters lagoon. 

Quilotoa’s lookout point

Quilotoa Hike  

The hike to the Quilotoa crater is one of the best experiences. As you descend along a steep and sandy path you can feel your way down into the volcano until you reach the magnificent lagoon. The descent takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

It should be noted that the ascent is much more difficult due to the steepness and height. The duration is approximately one to one and a half hours. 

Alternatively, you can walk along the edge of the Quilotoa. Although it is important to mention it’s a long and hard hike. The loop is 11.5 km and runs along a narrow path, with ascents and descents. If you dare to do this hike it is advisable to avoid doing it on windy days. 

Hiking in Quilotoa crater

Experience camping & Kayaking in Quilotoa 

If you want to have a deeper view of the lake you can rent kayaks and take a ride on these magnificent turquoise waters. 

Also, you will have the opportunity to be part of this natural scenery at night. Along with the forested area inside the crater you can camp. Of course don’t forget to go well prepared and with all the necessary implements. 

Kayaking in Quilotoa crater lake

Plantlife & Bird watching 

As Quilotoa belongs to an Andean páramo area, it has colorful vegetation such as purple Andean lupins and the orange thistles of Chuquirawa, emblematic of the region.

Visitors can also hear the songs of many birds inside the crater. Hummingbirds, doves, ground tyrants and finches are some of the birds that can be seen. 

Quilotoa crater trail
Quilotoa crater trail


You can enjoy delicious food in the restaurants around the Quilotoa area. The typical cuisine of the Ecuadorian highlands is based on corn, grains, potatoes, rice, protein and salads. If you want to know more about Ecuador’s gastronomy you can read our post and find out what dishes the highlands have prepared for you. 

Chugchucaras typical dish
Chugchucaras typical dish

Now you can pack your bags and embark on this adventure to this magnificent and unique treasure of Ecuador. Contact us to arrange an outing and make this experience real. 

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