We went to the Quilotoa Crater Lake from Latacunga by taking a 25 cent bus ride to Zumbahua and then catching a pickup truck (camioneta) to Quilotoa. The camioneta driver charged $10 (ish) for the whole truck split between 4 of us.
The whole journey took about 2 hours and the camioneta driver dropped us off just 50 feet from the lake lookout with the most rewarding view of sea green alkaline water.
and sharp peaks of the surrounding Andes that looked like knife edges.
The trail down to the lake started out easy and hard packed with peek-a-boo views of the lake
If sheep can do it, why can’t we?
But then the trail dropped off the side of the cliff with a slippery surface covered with rock and sand
It dropped about 1000 feet at a 35% grade almost the whole way so we got down fast. We sat near the edge of the lake enjoying the hot sun
and looking at the trail back up to the top
Which was steep, slippy, difficult to climb and at 13,000 feet elevation.
Watching the clouds fill up the basin as the sun set felt like a reward after all that work
This is a great hike. I’d recommend wearing a lot of layers because it’s freezing on the rim, slightly warmer by the lake and we worked pretty hard to get up and down. It took about 30-40 minutes to go down and 1-2 hours to come back up and the views made the effort worthwhile.