Located just 2 hours from Latacunga and at an elevation of 3,500m asl the famous volcanic crater lake , Laguna Quilotoa is found.
Day trips can be taken to see the crater lake, however the more challenging route is a 3 day hike called the Quilotoa Loop. Here you pass remote andean villages, and stay in lodges enroute.
There are many options of routes to get to the crater, with a mix of bus, hitch hiking and walking being chosen depending on time available. Maps are available from hostels in Latacunga, and make sure that you pick one up as you don’t really want to get lost.
The route I choose (and recommend) is from Latacunga (where you should leave you big rucksack- taking only what you really need to the hike) get a bus to Sigchos in the morning of day 1, then hike to a town called Isinlivi- which takes about 4 hours.
Day 2 is from here to Chugchilan- a 6 hour hike.
Day 3 to the crater and the town of Quilotoa, then back in the late afternoon to Latacunga. Or you can stay at the numerous hostels that have taken over Quilotoa, and head back to Latacunga the next morning after enjoying sunrise.
You can easily do this loop in reverse- but Day 3 is the highlight, which is worth building up to, rather than at the beginning. Also there are buses and many options to hitch hike between villages if tired.
Accommodation in the named villages is always a welcome site after the long days. With all the hostels included a good hearty 3 course dinner and breakfast in the price of the room.