'Trek to Quilotoa'

What makes this trip special?

Hike along a canyon

Hike along a canyon

Toachi Canyon

Using a mule to carry your packs, hike along the Toachi canyon, passing local communities and a variety of landcapes and habitats along the way.

Remote Andean living

Remote Andean living

Chugchilan village

The picturesque hamlet of Chugchilan, nestled deep within the Quilotoa loop makes a lovely resting place after a long hike and the ideal place to get an idea on rural life in Ecuador.

The emerald green crater

The emerald green crater

Lake Quilotoa

Undoubtedly the highlight of the Quiotoa loop is the stunning emerald green waters of lake Quilotoa set within a crater of a dormant volcano. Walk around the rim of the crater and admire the panoramic views.

Colourful local markets

Colourful local markets

Local Markets - Quilotoa loop

Depending on the day of the week, visit one of the local markets to witness traditional stalls and goods.

Itinerary map for Ecuador & Galapagos 'Trek to Quilotoa' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Isinlivi
  • 1 Quito
  • 2 Chugchilan
  • 3 Quilotoa
  • 4 Tigua
  • 5 Quito
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Trek to Quilotoa'


Quito to Isinlivi

Your English speaking local trekking guide will collect you from your hotel in Quito. Together you drive down the first section of the Avenue of the Volcanoes, passing Cotopaxi before turning off towards the sleepy Spanish-speaking village of Isinlivi. From the village you make a gentle warm-up hike to enjoy the beautiful and dramatic Andean scenery. You stay the night in Isinlivi at the little Lullu Llama hostel (shared bathroom). Hiking time: 2½hrs


Trek Isinlivi to Chugchilan

With a mule to carry your main pack today you set out following a steep trail to the bottom of the immense Toachi canyon. Once you have reached the Toachi River you’ll follow a sandy trail south along its bank for a couple of miles. Walking at the bottom of the canyon you’re are in different surroundings. Now and then you’ll see a few local people’s houses. Further north we will leave the bottom of the canyon again to hike up on the other side, towards the village of Chugchilan. Here and there the trail is steep, but the views back down upon the canyon are amazing. Once out of the canyon the last stretch follows an easy dirt track that brings you to the pleasant small village of Chugchilan (approx 3,300m). Mama Hilda the friendly owner of a local hostel will welcome you with a fresh drink and a well-deserved meal. Hiking time: 4-5 hours


Trek Chugchilán - Quilotoa

Today you’ll hike the beautiful trail up to Lake Quilotoa. It’s a scenic day starting with a decent into the Sigui canyon (3000 m.). After crossing the river of the same name you do have to hike out of the canyon again on the other side. This canyon stretch offers spectacular views and nice hiking along some narrow and steep paths with high volcanic walls on both sides. Once out of the canyon there are impressive views of the canyon below. You pass the small indigenous community of Huayama, before another ascent up the sandy slopes of the Quilotoa crater. Once on top of the crater you will be amazed both by the colours of the bright green Quilotoa lake several hundred meters below and by panoramic views on a clear day of some of Ecuador’s highest volcanoes all around. You end the day by following the crater rim, walking through paramo vegetation and some sandy and rocky parts, with rock formations weirdly eroded by the wind. You’ll then bid your trusty pack mule and muleteer farewell as you are picked up by vehicle and taken to a nice hacienda near the village of Tigua, a 45 minute drive, for the night. Hiking time: 6 hours.


Today we could make a short morning hike in the surroundings or just relax at the hacienda and observe the daily life of the farm. They have cattle and sheep and a couple of llamas. In the nearby village you can take a look at the brightly coloured naive paintings made by the local artisans on sheep skin. Depending on the day of the week you could perhaps visit a local market. On Saturdays it’s at Zumbahua, Sundays at Guangage (but tiny) and Pujilli, on Wednesdays at Pujilli, Thursdays at Guamote and Sasquisili. In the afternoon you return by private transport to Quito Trekking notes We can arrange to pick you up at the start and/or drop you off at the end anywhere in the region. The dry season in this trekking area is between June and December. In normal conditions it hardly rains during these months. From July to October it can get rather dusty, so if you wear contact lenses you should also bring a pair of normal glasses or sun glasses. In the rainy season, between February and May, it normally rains at least 3 days a week. Some stretches of this trek may turn a bit muddy at this time of the year. At night, temperatures can drop to low single figures.

Guide prices for 'Trek to Quilotoa'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide price 2 people sharing £1,125
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Ecuador
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • all excursions as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Trek to Quilotoa'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average customer rating 90%


Too difficult to single out.


Quilotoa, Cotopaxi

Seasonal information for 'Trek to Quilotoa'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Isinlivi 17°C rainfall 111mm
1 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
2 Chugchilan 16°C rainfall 89mm
3 Quilotoa 14°C rainfall 84mm
4 Tigua 13°C rainfall 82mm
5 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Trek to Quilotoa'

Day 1

Llullu Llama hostel


Average rating 4.7 (6 ratings)

Situated in the village of Isinlivi, Llullu Llama is a converted traditional country farmhouse popular with trekkers. There are dorms and private rooms in the restored original farmhouse building with shared bathrooms and recently built garden cottages with private bathrooms and balconies. There are cozy common areas with fireplaces, and outdoor terrace, restaurant serving hearty homecooked food using local ingredients. There is also a spa with solar-powered heated jacuzzi, dry sauna and turkish bath - perfect for resting weary legs after trekking!

Llullu Llama hostel
Day 2

Mama Hilda's Guest House


A delightful locally owned and run guest house with a personal welcome from the owner, Hilda. This very homely hotel has some rooms with private facilities and wood fire places, and some more basic with shared bathrooms. There is hot water 24hrs a day and there is a small garden with good views from the decks outside each room from the hammocks made availble to guests. There are cosy dining facilities in the main room, whilst there is also the option to do laundry. Whilst the accommodation is basic this is a favourite with many clients and the warmth of the hospitality sets it apart from many other lodges.

Mama Hilda's Guest House
Lodge entrance
Day 3

Posada de Tigua


Average rating 4.1 (12 ratings)

Family-owned and run hacienda set on a 130 yr old farm near the village of Tigua, this charming guest house is a snug place to stay due to its 1.2m thick adobe walls and the fact that the stove is permanently on with rooms proudly kept at 21C. Some rooms have private bathrooms whils others share bathrooms and meals are prepared using organic ingredients produced on the farm including their own yoghurt, cheese, milk and lamb.

Posada de Tigua
Hacienda entrance