- “Quilotoa (Spanish pronunciation: [kiloˈto.a]) is a water-filled caldera and the westernmost volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The 3 kilometres (2 mi) wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following a catastrophic VEI-6 eruption about 800 years ago, which produced pyroclastic flows and laharsthat reached the Pacific Ocean, and spread an airborne deposit of volcanic ash throughout the northern Andes. The caldera has since accumulated a 250 m (820 ft) deep crater lake, which has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals. Fumaroles are found on the lake floor and hot springs occur on the eastern flank of the volcano.”
On my last week of Spanish school, the school had organized a weekend trip to Quilotoa Crater Lake 5hrs south of Quito by bus. The trip was going to cost $50 pp and although I hadn’t been there before and always wanted to see this place, I thought I could do it on my own for much less. So me and the girlfriend left Saturday morning and headed there by ourselves to do the trip on our own. We had to go to the south terminal in Quito to catch a bus (which I always hate because it’s so far from downtown Quito and costs about $9 for the taxi ride), which we bought a ticket to Latacunga ($1.80 pp). From Latacunga we took another bus to Quilotoa ($2.00 pp) and arrived around noon time at a small village right next to the lake.
There isn’t much in the town, except for a few hostels, some handy craft stalls and a couple really small stores, but your right on the rim of the crater. We checked into a hostel ($6 pp) and decided to make the hike down into the crater that afternoon. There is also a trail that goes all along the top of the crater rim, which from what people said takes about 6-7hrs to walk all the way around. We figured we’d do the hike down to the lake the first day and maybe the next day do the trail around the top.
We met a couple Chileans (Osvaldo & Michel) who checked into the same hostel as we did and decided we’d hike down together to the lake. The hike took about an hour to get to the bottom and about 2hrs to get back up. The views at the top are spectacular and loved finally getting that photo of the lake inside the crater. Hiking down was pretty easy, except you had to watch your footing in the middle when the ground turns to nothing but sand. Was fun sliding down the crater but made a pain in the butt for hiking back out.
At the top of the crater it’s so windy, that you need a jacket and hat just to keep you warm. Then as you descend down, it starts to get hot in the middle of the hike as there is no wind and only the sun shinning down on you (not to mention your hot from walking). Once you get to the bottom though it goes back to cool weather, as the wind blows off the lake creating a cool chill. So imagine going from 60 Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) to 85 Farhrenheit (29 Celsius) back to 60 Fahrenheit, in about an hour. Jack on, jacket off, jacket back on!
You can mule or horse rides down and up out of the crater for about $5 one-way. Most people hike down (as it’s so easy) then hire a mule to ascend back out (which next time I’m doing as it’s a leg cruncher…but doable). You can also camp at the bottom but there is no running water there for bathrooms exc exc. We ended up doing the whole trip from the moment we left the apartment in Quito to arriving back for apx. $55 USD total. That included all transportation (which $18 went to just taxi’s in Quito to get to the bus terminal. We could have taken a buses for about $1.00 but would have taken 1.5hrs to get there), meals/snacks, beer and even bought some gloves. Was 1/2 the price the school wanted and we had such a great time.
We met some really great people at the hostel we stayed and will be posting about it tomorrow.