Top 7 things to do in Quilotoa

things to do in quilotoa

Quilotoa Lagoon is located southeast of the city of Quito, inside Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve, in the province of Cotopaxi. This wonderful lagoon of volcanic origin is famous for its turquoise waters and is surrounded by typical Andean moor vegetation. On this note, we would like to invite you to find out the best things to do in Quilotoa during your visit to the vulcano.

Cover Photo: Quilotoa lagoon
Photo by: Quito Tour Bus

1. Visit the Shalalá and Quilotoa lookout points

The Shalalá viewpoint is a see-through structure from which it is possible to see all the beautiful landscape of the Quilotoa Lagoon. The viewpoint is located in the community of Shalalá, and is 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) above sea level. This is the perfect place to get a great picture of the Quilotoa crater and lagoon. We also recommend visiting the viewpoint of the Quilotoa community, also known as the Quilotoa viewpoint, a place from which you can also get a fantastic view of the natural world.

the quilotoa viewpoint
The Quilotoa viewpoint
Photo by: Quito Tour Bus

2. Walk to Quilotoa lagoon

One of the most recommended activities when visiting Quilotoa is hiking to the lagoon along a path that is approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long. Going down to the lagoon is not very difficult, however, if you are not in good physical condition, going up again can be a bit of a challenge. In that case, there is the possibility to rent a donkey, which you can do to go up as well as down. Do not forget that if you are going to walk to the lagoon you must wear adequate shoes, that is, use trekking shoes, to avoid slipping. Don’t forget either that if you choose to do this activity, you will have to share the path with the donkeys and other tourists visiting the area

the descent to quilotoa
The descent to Quilotoa
Photo by: Instagram @andresangel09

3. Visit a Quilotoa artisan workshop in the community of Tigua

Tigua is a small community located very close to the Quilotoa Lagoon, one hour from the city of Latacunga, the capital of the province of Cotopaxi, on the Pujilí – La Maná road. In this community, local artisans are dedicated to creating masks made of pine wood. These fantastic masks are commercialized in the community and in other artisan markets of the country, and they are also used during local celebrations. 

In addition, the famous artisans of Tigua are well known for their sheepskin paintings. In their works, they depict different landscapes, as well as everyday occurrences, that is, they represent the way of life and experiences of the communities of the Ecuadorian highlands. 

tigua masks quilotoa
Tigua masks
Photo by: Quito Tour Bus

4. Visit the Toachi river canyon

The Toachi River canyon is a geographical phenomenon, shaped like a ravine through which the Toachi River flows. The canyon is located a few kilometers from the Sigchos canton, in the same province, Cotopaxi, on the road that leads to the Quilotoa lagoon. It was generated by the pyroclastic flows of the Quilotoa volcano. The Toachi River is usually a great setting for rafting, and there is a lookout point to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. 

toachi river canyon quilotoa
Toachi river canyon
Photo by: Quito Tour Bus

5. Walk around the lagoon – the ” Quilotoa Loop “

Walking around the Quilotoa Lagoon is a great idea if you want to get to know this destination in Ecuador. Besides, it will be a unique experience if you have an adventurous spirit and you fancy a hike through the Andean landscape of Ecuador. There are people who do this excursion accompanied by a professional guide, which is recommended since he/she will be able to guide you at all times. The diameter of the caldera is approximately 2 kilometers, (1.2 miles) and the walk around the lagoon can take between 5 and 6 hours, depending on your physical fitness and those accompanying you.

We recommend that you do this walk without too much weight on your shoulders, so you can leave your belongings at the place where you are staying or in the vehicle that took you to the lagoon. Do not forget to bring a waterproof coat, a windbreaker, shoes with grippy soles and sun block, as well as the essential hat or cap. Additionally, we recommend that you bring an extra sweater, since the weather in the mountains is usually unpredictable. 

hiking in the quilotoa
Hiking in the Quilotoa
Photo by: Instagram @emmy_albatross

6. Go kayaking in the lagoon

When you have reached the shores of the Quilotoa lagoon, you can rent a boat or a kayak to take out on its waters. It’s not every day that you will be able to paddle in a crater lake, so don’t miss the opportunity to do so once you are there. 

kayaking in the quilotoa lagoon
Kayaking in the Quilotoa lagoon
Photo by: Instagram @apasvieira

7. Camp in the Quilotoa

Camping in the Quilotoa is another activity you can do if you want to thoroughly appreciate this idyllic place. Sleeping in front of the Quilotoa lagoon is a fantastic experience. However, you must bring your own tent, equipment and food if you want to stay there. 

Don’t forget that if you are going to camp at the Quilotoa you should bring enough bottled water, since the camping area is located at the shore of the lagoon and once you get there you will probably not want to go back to the top of the lagoon to stock up on what is needed. In addition, the temperature during the night usually decreases considerably so bring a cold weather tent, thermal sleeping bag and very warm clothes. And, of course, don’t forget to collect and take back with you all the waste you generate during your stay. Finally, it remains to be said that there are toilets in the area for those camping on site.

camping in the quilotoa
Camping in the Quilotoa
Photo by: Instagram @samm_stephy

How to get to Quilotoa

In our blog post, we tell you how to get to Quilotoa either by bus, car or on a day tour

Advice on how to get to Quilotoa

Since you are thinking of going to the Quilotoa, we recommend you read our recommendations on how to get to the Quilotoa

Day trip

Don’t forget that the recommended way to get to Quilotoa is with the Quilotoa Tour provided by Quito Tour Bus, a day trip during which you can get to know the beautiful Quilotoa lagoon and its surroundings in an easy, comfortable and fun way.

The Quilotoa Tour includes some of the activities described above. During the day, we will take you to visit the Shalalá and Quilotoa viewpoints, hike to the lagoon, visit an artisanal workshop in the community of Tigua and visit the Toachi River canyon. Our tour includes all entrance fees and lunch

day trip to quilotoa from quito
Day trip to Quilotoa from Quito
Photo by Quito Tour Bus

On this tour, you have the chance to visit all these destinations and enjoy various activities early in the morning, so that you can make the most of your day. In addition, on the Quilotoa Tour you will always be accompanied by professional tourist personnel who will assist you with any concerns or needs you may have.

Come and visit this famous lagoon of volcanic origin with Quito Tour Bus, and we are sure you will not regret it.

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How to get to Quilotoa

Quilotoa Lagoon is one of the most famous volcanic lagoons in the world. Quilotoa volcano is home to the lagoon