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Hiking the Quilotoa: Essential Travel Tips

Hiking the Quilotoa

In February, Indy, from the Netherlands, who was doing an internship with us, embarked on a remarkable adventure, setting out on a Quilotoa Day Tour with Rebecca Adventure Travel. The journey led her to the awe-inspiring Quilotoa crater, a destination that would soon become one of her most cherished memories on the Ecuadorian mainland. The captivating beauty of Quilotoa’s volcanic crater and its pure lake left an indelible mark on Indy, and her experience opened the door to a world of natural wonder and exploration.

As with any adventure, there were valuable lessons learned along the way—essential insights that would have come in handy before undertaking the day tour and hiking down to Quilotoa lake. In this guide, we will explore those essential tips and insights, ensuring that your own Quilotoa adventure is as rewarding and unforgettable as Indy’s.

Enjoy the crater now!

Nestled in Ecuador’s Andes mountains, the Quilotoa volcano magnetizes global nature enthusiasts, boasting striking beauty, including its iconic crater lake. Transitioning to the crater’s rim, you encounter profound awe and the promise of an unforgettable adventure. This guide delves into Quilotoa’s allure, unveiling what makes it a must-visit Ecuadorian attraction for outdoor explorers. Indy left some essential tips for a better experience at Quilotoa Crater Lake.

1. Take Advantage of Multiple Hiking Routes

The most commonly traversed hiking routes lead visitors on a challenging descent to the mesmerizing Quilotoa Lake. As Indy can attest, this path is not for the faint of heart, as the steep incline demands endurance. While the descent usually takes 20 to 40 minutes, the ascent, owing to the high altitude, can be an arduous journey lasting up to 2 hours. However, with determination, it’s an achievable feat.

Andes mountains - Quilotoa

Guest hiking the Quilotoa Crater Lake.

Alternatively, for experienced hikers who relish extended treks covering more than 6 mi (10 km), there’s the option of circumnavigating the entire crater. This trail offers an immersive experience, presenting you with panoramic vistas of the crater lake. It’s essential to exercise caution, especially on blustery days when the winds can be formidable. Whether you choose the challenging descent or the more extended circuit, the Quilotoa experience promises breathtaking views and a deep connection with nature’s rugged beauty.

2. Travel Light to the Quilotoa Crater

When descending to the Quilotoa crater, remember that every item you bring down must be carried back up. It is vital to pack only the essentials. For added ease and reduced weight, consider leaving non-essential items such as extra clothing and snacks behind on the bus. While some hikers may choose to carry their backpacks for camping down at the Quilotoa crater, many opt for the assistance of horses when it’s time to ascend, as the weight can become quite burdensome. The wisdom here is clear: travel light for a more enjoyable and manageable experience.

Jill Giveaway Winner.

Guest at Quilotoa with Rebecca Adventure Travel Guide.

3. Prepare for the Cold

Following advice from many, Indy dressed warmly to combat the anticipated cold. Her attire consisted of hiking shoes, sporty leggings, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, and a rain jacket for added precaution. At the summit, the chilly wind reminded her of the benefit of preparing well. Since she didn’t venture all the way down to the Quilotoa crater, she can’t personally vouch for the conditions at its depths. Nevertheless, she had heard that when the sun graces the landscape, the experience is far more pleasant, and the cold becomes a distant memory.

Don’t forget thermal base layers when hiking in cold or rainy weather.Indy

4. Consider Sun Exposure

During Indy’s visit, the sun radiated brilliantly, and the sky remained cloudless, with no hint of rain. The unexpected sunny and warm conditions took her by surprise, leading to a minor sunburn during the return ascent. Regrettably, she had not prepared for such sunny weather, lacking proper attire and sunscreen. Fortunately, the brisk, cold wind on the hike back up provided some relief, making the climb manageable.

Female traveler at Quilotoa

Sunny day at Quilotoa crater lake.

Don’t forget sunscreen everywhere you go in Ecuador!Indy

5. Take Some Food With You

This tour promises a satisfying almuerzo (lunch), although it’s planned for after the Quilotoa hike. To guarantee you have ample energy during the trek, it’s advisable to carry some snacks with you. Consider packing fruits, snacks high in sugars to boost your stamina, or a bit of chocolate, known for its potential to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. Having these provisions on hand ensures you stay fueled and ready to fully enjoy the Quilotoa experience.

Otavalo Food Market.

Otavalo food market.

6. Get Used to the Altitude Before Going to Quilotoa

Having spent a considerable amount of time in Quito, Indy became acclimated to the altitude, and altitude sickness fortunately did not pose a concern for her. However, for those who may be short on time to adjust to higher elevations, here are some helpful tips to stave off potential sickness:

  • Coca Leaf Tea: Sip on coca leaf tea, a popular local remedy renowned for its altitude-sickness-fighting properties. It’s readily available in Quito and can offer some relief.
  • Coca Leaf candy and leaves: Consider carrying coca leaf candies or chewing on actual coca leaves, which the indigenous people of the Andes have used for centuries to combat altitude-related discomfort.
  • Stay hydrated: Keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Hydration is essential at higher altitudes to help your body acclimate more effectively.
  • Chocolate: Indulging in chocolate can be an enjoyable way to alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. The compounds in chocolate can assist in mitigating its effects.

By following these practical tips, you can enhance your comfort at higher altitudes, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience in the Andes.

Get used to altitude in Quito now!

7. Take Enough Money With You

While it’s wise not to carry excessive cash to minimize the risk of theft, it’s essential to note that there is a limited availability of ATMs in the area. So, if you plan to rent a kayak, enjoy a meal, purchase refreshments, or pick up a souvenir, ensure you have sufficient cash on hand. This precaution will ensure you’re well-prepared for various expenses while exploring the region.

Kayak Quilotoa

Kayaking in the Quilotoa.

8. Don’t Try To Swim at Quilotoa

While the water has a really beautiful emerald color, swimming is a very dangerous activity there. The main reason is that the water has a lot of volcanic minerals that are toxic for people. So, enjoy the hiking and kayaking but don’t try to swim in the lake.

9. Travel Early in the Morning

Quilotoa Loop

Morning view of the Quilotoa Loop.

Because Quilotoa Lake is a three-hour trip from Quito, it is highly recommended to depart early in the morning to enjoy sunbathing at the crater. Since the climate can change drastically, it’s better to enjoy the crater in the morning than in the cold afternoon.

10. Consider Exploring the Nearby Cities

After finishing your Quilotoa day tour, take time to explore Baños and Ambato or continue your trip to another city. You can have a complete Ecuadorian experience visiting different towns. Every town has its own culture and especially different cuisines. Don’t hesitate to visit this amazing country! Contact us to find the best options.

Visit Ecuador Andes Now!

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