The Quilotoa Lagoon is located southeast of the city of Quito, inside the Ecological Reserve Los Ilinizas, in the province of Cotopaxi. This wonderful lagoon of volcanic origin is very famous for its turquoise waters and is surrounded by typical Andean paramo vegetation.
In the stories of travelers who boast of their visit to Ecuador, there will always be that moment when a photo of a lagoon in the center of a volcano will capture the attention of the curious.
That lagoon will undoubtedly be the Quilotoa and it will not be mere coincidence, because it is probably the most beautiful tourist place in the Ecuadorian highlands and after the Middle of the World one of the most visited.
Perhaps the lagoons of Ecuador distributed in its 4 regions are responsible for this beauty, the Imbabura volcano looks to the San Pablo lake, the Cotacachi volcano looks to the Cuicocha lagoon, the Chimborazo to the Colta lagoon, the Cotopaxi to the Limpiopungo lagoon; but it is the Quilotoa together with the El Altar volcano with the yellow lagoon, those that show a lagoon in its crater.
Quilotoa or “princess diamond” in Kichwa, is one of the giants of the avenue of volcanoes in whose crater lies a spectacular lagoon, hence you will always hear stories of the Quilotoa Volcano and the Quilotoa Lagoon.
Its impressive beauty has allowed it to be part of hundreds of videos promoting tourism in South America and Ecuador, hence its fame goes beyond the borders of the continent.
The Quilotoa is the westernmost volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes, within its crater has formed a caldera with a diameter of almost 9 km. This is the product of the collapse of the volcano, which occurred about 800 years ago. According to studies, the volcanic flow managed to reach the Pacific Ocean.
In the 250 m deep caldera, a lagoon has formed. The minerals have given the surface a greenish and bluish tone when it receives the impact of sunlight. Inside, there are springs that, from the shore, can be perceived as bubbling trails rising to the surface.
The popularity of Quilotoa is due to the beauty of its landscapes and the spectacle of the calm waters. In the community of Quilotoa, also known as the “Summit Route” and accessed by bus from the town of Zumbahua, visitors can enjoy ecotourism and adventure tourism with a high dose of adrenaline or simply contemplate the nearby landscapes.
Even this place is close to what many researchers assume as the last resting place of the Inca Atahualpa, so this was the last sacred route of the Incas. Visiting Quilotoa is a breathtaking experience at approximately 4,000 meters above sea level.
Legend has it that long ago that the circular caldera located in the center of the volcano, emerged between the surface of the lagoon along with a god called Quilotoa was considered the king of the eruptions of all volcanoes that destroyed everything in its path was seen more than a rock and there was a god that would be found under the water of the lagoon is said that when it erupted the two gods of the volcano fought occurring in the eighteenth century destroying the view that existed. In an image the dry and cold conditions of the panorama appear because a man saw how these two gods fought and threw fire at each other and no one knew who that god was but it is believed that the god who fought with the Quilotoa was the Toachi. They fought because he hated Quilotoa because in his lagoon reflects the sky blue color and also because the Tohachi was a dormant volcano that could not vent their anger so they always fought and erupted Quilotoa Volcano which the fight of these gods will cause many disasters.
What activities can I do in the Quilotoa Lagoon?
One of the most recommended activities when visiting Quilotoa is to hike to the lagoon through a trail that has a distance of approximately 2 kilometers. Descending to the lagoon is not that complicated, however, if you are not in good physical condition, going up again can be a bit difficult. In that case, there is the possibility of renting a mule, and you can do it both up and down. Do not forget that if you are going to make the hike to the lagoon you should wear appropriate footwear, i.e., you should wear trekking shoes, so you will avoid slipping. Also do not forget that, if you choose to do this activity, you will have to share the road with mules and other tourists visiting the area.
Once you have reached the shore of the Quilotoa Lagoon, you can rent a boat or kayak to navigate on its waters. It’s not every day that you can navigate in a lagoon that is housed in a crater, so don’t miss the opportunity to do so once you are there.
How to get there?
Tourists visiting the volcano and the Quilotoa lagoon use the bus frequencies that daily and at different times depart to Latacunga and from this city, use the services that link Latacunga, Pujilí, Zumbahua (64.33 km) and from this town to Quilotoa (12.67 km). The approximate arrival time from Latacunga to the Quilotoa viewpoint is 1 hour.