An active weekend excursion: Cotopaxi Volcano & Quilotoa Lake

Travelers often think that Galapagos or the Amazon are the only must-visit destinations in Ecuador. However, there are also numerous precious mainland destinations to discover. The Quilotoa lake and Cotopaxi volcano are other breath-taking sites where travelers can experience the great nature of South America. They are approximately 2 hours away from Quito. Today I suggest a route to Quilotoa and Cotopaxi from Latacunga, a mid-size city between these two marvelous places.

Cotopaxi volcano

Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in Ecuador. Although it was not serious, the last active movement of the volcano happened in 2015. The top of the mountain is covered with snow and red dirt which creates a mysterious and magical feeling to its’ visitors. Travelers can go hiking and mountain biking but usually people go up to the parking lot by car and start hiking to the manageable point of the refuge at 4864m by foot. It is recommended to be equipped with proper clothing and shoes because the temperature is low and the wind is strong enough to make you feel discouraged.

Quilotoa lake

The Quilotoa lake is actually a crater lake located inside an active volcano. It is about 2 and a half hours away from the Latacunga terminal. The public bus costs $2 one way. The route goes up to the mountain where you can see the whole view of the city and a great agricultural land. Roads are pretty curvy so if you get easily car sick, be prepared. Don’t eat a lot before the ride or take a motion sickness pill. Although the way to Quilotoa is not the most comfortable, it is worth it. The bus stops in front of the Quilotoa entrance gate. After less than a 5 minute walk, you will reach the top point from where you have a great view of the whole lake. Travelers can also go hiking to the edge of the lake. To go back up again you can optionally rent a mule or horse to reach to the start point again.

When something becomes a routine, even a great impression becomes nothing special anymore at some point. A weekend trip to Cotopaxi and Quilotoa is fresh and amazing enough to remind travelers the power of the great nature and values of it!

Written by: Jin

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