The Quilotoa lagoon (3850m – 1,2631ft) is reached by one of the most beautiful routes connecting the highlands with the coast. This volcanic crater filled with a beautiful emerald lake.
Day 1: Quito (9,186ft/2.800m) – Quilotoa Lagoon and Shalala Lodge (3500 m)
We’ll leave from Quito (9,186ft/2800m) in the morning and drive to the Quilotoa Lagoon. During the tour we will stop at an Indian hut and visit the Tigua community to observe the leather crafts they produce. The tour will take us about 4 hours, after which we’ll arrive at the viewpoint where you can observe the magnitude of the crater and its lagoon. We will then descend for an hour along a road of varying terrains to the bottom of the lagoon, which will take an hour. At the bottom we will have the opportunity to take photos and rest. We’ll have a lunch there and stay at Quilotoa Shalala Lodge. www.quilotoashalala.com (D;B;LB)
Day 2: Village of Chugchilán – Quito
Hiking from Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilán we will have beautiful views of the Toachi River Canyon. First we will walk along the crater edge, admiring the views of the lagoon inside, until we descend to the plateau which contains the small indigenous village of Huayama. As we descend the switchback trail to the Toachi River Gorge, the climate and scenery changes dramatically. Soon after beginning the descent we will be surrounded by the canyon walls and hiking along the river banks. The hike ranges from 4 to 5 hours and is moderately challenging. We will eat lunch at Cloud Forest Hostal and Restaurant, which is a basic, but friendly and clean hostel run by José Luis. Chugchilán is a well known destination for hikers,this little town is a typical village of the mountain region in Ecuador. It has a small plaza, a church and a school, and most of the people still use a horse or donkey as transport. Here you will feel like you’ve gone back a few hundred years in history. after lunch we will head back to Quito which will take about 4 hours. (B/L)