WHICH IS THE BEST ROUTE TO TAKE ON THE QUILOTOA LOOP?
You have two choices of direction for the Quilotoa Loop: Clockwise or Anti-clockwise.
We think it’s best to go anti-clockwise (to Sigchos first) for a couple of reasons.
One, you see the best sight, the Quilotoa Crater, last and have a goal to work towards during the hike. And two, this gives you more time at the crater. You can get up early on the morning on your final day to see it one last time or book to stay an extra day if you feel like doing the 4 hour trek around the crater itself.
The three-day anti-clockwise route goes like this:
- Day 1 – Bus from Latacunga to Sigchos/trek from Sigchos to Isinlivi
- Day 2 – Trek from Isinlivi to Chugchilan
- Day 3 – Trek from Chugchilan to Quilotoa / Optional: Bus back to Latacunga
Going clockwise was one mistake we managed to avoid when planning our trip but if you decide to do it that way then you just get the bus to Quilotoa on first morning and travel in the opposite direction.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE QUILOTOA LOOP
Before starting the trek, you will need to get to the town of Latacunga and stay at least one night.
If you follow the anti-clockwise route, here are the three towns you will stay in and need to book accommodation for whilst on the loop:
You may also want to stay one night in Latacunga when you return after the loop to rest, do washing and sort any admin for the next stop on your travels.
All the hostels on the route provide dinner and breakfast as part of the price, so you don’t have to worry about bringing food. They sell packed lunches for the day’s trek costing between $2-$5 as well and provide towels/toiletries so you don’t have to worry about packing those either.
BEST HOSTELS ON THE QUILOTOA LOOP
On the first day of the trek, you will leave Latacunga and get a bus to the town of Sigchos, which is where you begin the walk.
On your first day of the loop, you will go Latacunga > Sigchos > Isinlivi and stay in Isinlivi on the first night.
The trekking part of the loop begins from the town of Sigchos.
Best Places To Stay In Latacunga (Before Starting)
The most important thing to do on the day before you start the trek is to find a hostel which allows you to leave your bags free of charge and ideally has breakfast included. This means, the night before you can pack your smaller day pack and leave your big backpack with the hostel.
Then in the morning, all you need to do is get up, have breakfast and get on a bus to Sigchos.
Our recommendations for places to stay in Latacunga are:
- Hotel Rosim – beds from £12 ($15) with good breakfast – we stayed here and left our bags free of charge – Booking.com
- Hostal Café Tiana – offering breakfast – beds in a dorm room range from £13 ($17) to private rooms for £35 ($45) – Booking.com
- Hostel Tierra De Fuego – cheap dorm beds from £7 ($9) and includes breakfast – Booking.com
Best Places To Stay In Sigchos
You can travel to Sigchos and stay the night before starting the loop if you wish.
This makes sense if you need to leave Latacunga late for some reason. You won’t be able to start the trek much later than 2PM as it will be dark before you reach Isinlivi, making life difficult.
The two best places are:
- Hosteria La Estela – English speaking staff, bike rentals and breakfast included. Private double rooms start at £19 ($25) – Booking.com
- Starlight Inn – continental or buffet breakfast and bike rentals. Double and twin rooms start from £11 ($14) for one person – Booking.com
Both hostels will provide you with maps and trekking advice for the loop so having a night in Sigchos first might be best for those of you who are still unsure about the loop and have more questions.
Best Places To Stay In Isinlivi
The two main hostels to stay in town both include breakfast and dinner as all the hostels are catering towards travellers completing the loop.
- Llullu Llama – beds in a dorm from £16 ($20) and private rooms from £40 ($51) – the most popular choice due to the hot tub, morning yoga and resident llamas – Booking.com
- Hostal Taita Cristobal – beds from £13 ($17) and rooms from £27 ($34) – Booking.com
We stayed at Hostal Taita Cristobal, which was great. The beds were comfortable and the dinner in the evening was filling, just what you needed after a long day of trekking. They have hammocks and chairs out in the garden with a great view of the valley and the local llamas chilling in the garden.
While they will claim to have WiFi, this will not work, which seems to be the case for all hostels throughout the ‘loop’. We recommend coming to terms with this before you leave and accepting having four or so days disconnected.
Lulu Llama is slightly more expensive, but they have a hot tub, sauna, and a much cosier communal space with a bar. Both are excellent choices, so the only deciding factor is the price!
Lulu Llama also has a great website with a downloadable pdf full of information on the Quilotoa Loop. Make sure to check it out before you start hiking.
Best Places To Stay In Chugchilan
You have more choice in Chugchilan as the town is larger. Here are our two top picks to keep it simple:
- Cloud Forrest Hostel – beds from £14 ($18) for a dorm room with private rooms also available from £25 ($32) – Booking.com / Website
- Hostal el Vaquero – beds from £13 ($17) for a dorm room with private rooms available. Towels cost extra. This hotel includes a fitness room with sauna, Turkish bath and swimming pool which will make for a lovely relaxing evening – Booking.com
- Black Sheep Inn – an ecolodge with woodstoves and hot showers. It’s a little bit more expensive but you get a more complete experience with three meals/day included. Seems like the perfect place to stay for an extra day or two and enjoy the views of the Andes. 10 bed dorms from £19 ($25) and private doubles from £39 ($50) – Website
We stayed at Cloud Forrest, and it had everything we needed – a nice dinner and breakfast, games room with pool, table football and table tennis, and a comfortable communal space to relax in after a long day.
Black Sheep Inn also have a great website with tonnes of useful information about the surrounding area.
Best Places To Stay In Quilotoa
Hostels and hotels in Quilotoa are more expensive due to the number of tourists visiting the crater just for a night or two on tours. The dinner isn’t always included in the price for these hostels either so make sure to double check this if you are doing the loop in the opposite direction.
The town is a basically a single road that leads up to the crater viewpoint and all the accommodation and restaurants are on this road.
Here are our top picks.
- Hostal Chukirawa – from £24 ($30), includes breakfast and is popular among solo travellers – Booking.com
- Martita’s House Hostal – from £18 ($23) and includes breakfast and dinner – Booking.com
- Runa Wasi Quilotoa – from £18 ($23) and includes breakfast only – Booking.com
We stayed at Chukirawa and loved it. The twin private room was cosy, with a warm, powerful shower which was much needed after three days of trekking. The rooms have a small log burner in them, and a member of staff will come in the evening to light it, making it even cosier.
The breakfast is like all the others you get in Ecuador – fruit, eggs, bread and jam. And the restaurant in the hostel has a wide range of food options to suit most people for dinner the evening you arrive.
We would recommend staying the night you arrive at Quilotoa, so in the morning you can get up and go check out the crater one last time when you are feeling rested.
You could even complete the loop around the crater if you wish which takes between 3-4 hours.