IS THE QUILOTOA LOOP EXPENSIVE?
Not at all! The Quilotoa Loop is a fantastic 3-day experience for backpackers and hikers looking to do something unique on a budget.
Many people don’t like the idea of guided tours, so the Quilotoa Loop is perfect if that’s you. It’s completely self-guided, and the hostels along the loop provide your food as well.
It should cost no more than $100 over the 3 days which means your average daily spend is below $33.
HOW TO BUDGET FOR THE QUILOTOA LOOP
First things first, remember to bring cash.
The Quilotoa loop takes you to some of the most remote parts of Ecuador; tiny villages way out in the Andean countryside, and therefore they won’t be able to accept card. It’s best to bring dollars to cover all your expenses and then a little extra just in case.
You won’t be spending much during the hike as your accommodation provides food for you. Below is a breakdown of your daily costs from the start to the end based on the standard 3-day/3-night trip.
|Daily Average Spend||$33|
We would recommend taking $150 in cash on the Quilotoa Loop.
This gives you enough to cover your costs and then leaves you $50 to spend on any extras such as snacks, beer/wine in the evening or even extending a day and staying at the Quilotoa crater.
As you can see, accommodation will be your highest cost. A bed in a dorm cost’s on average $20 a night.
For two of the three nights, the hostel price will include accommodation and two meals (dinner and breakfast the next morning). The first two stops in Isinlivi and Chugchilan are tiny villages with nothing more than the hostels you stay in and a small shop.
If you want to know the best hostels to choose in each town on the route, then read our post on the best places to stay on the Quilotoa Loop.
QUILOTOA LOOP DAILY BUDGET
Here’s a daily budget breakdown so you can see where exactly we spent our money.
If you want a more detailed guide into planning and navigating the Quilotoa Loop then follow the link below.
|Day||Location||Expense||What's Included?||Cost ($)|
|1||Latacunga||Food||Water, snacks, lunch for the day||$6|
|1||Latacunga||Transport||Bus to Sigchos||$5|
|1||Isinlivi||Accommodation||- Dorm bed|
|2||Isinlivi||Food||Water and snacks||$3|
|2||Chugchilan||Accommodation||- Dorm bed|
|3||Chugchilan||Food||Water and snacks||$3|
|3||*Quilotoa||Accommodation||- Dorm bed |
|4||Quilotoa||Transport||Bus to Latacunga||$5|
*Quilotoa is more touristic than the other stops. People come to spend one or two nights here, and so your hostel price usually doesn’t include your dinner. The hostels typically serve dinner, but you’ll have to pay extra. However, this gives you the freedom to choose your celebratory dinner, having completed the loop.
All costs were recorded as of October 2019
Food Costs On The Quilotoa Loop
Depending on where you stay in Latacunga, you should get breakfast in your hostel before getting the bus to Sigchos. Next to the bus station there’s supermarket so you can stock up on some lunch/snack items before departing.
As we mentioned, the hostels provide you with dinner and breakfast as part of the stay. So, on the first day when you reach your accommodation, you will get dinner, and breakfast the following morning.
They also sell beer and wine. There’s no better feeling than enjoying a crisp beer having completed a day hiking. Treat yourself to one or two but don’t overdo it as it could make the following day even more painful!
The Quilotoa Loop is a great way to stick to a budget, but some people don’t have 3 days to spare. Check out our comparison guide on the loop vs a day trip from Quito to see the pros and cons of both:
Each hostel also offers a packed lunch at an additional cost of between $2-5. The lunches are substantial – usually a big sandwich, fruit and a juice drink to keep you fuelled through the long days.
At the Quilotoa crater, some hostels/hotels provide the lunch/dinner option for travellers going in the opposite direction on the loop. However, as we ended up here on the last day, we didn’t book this and chose to pay for our dinner.
In each of the towns, you can find small stores selling extras such as cookies, ice creams, bottles of water etc. to stock up before leaving.
Accommodation Costs On The Quilotoa Loop
The best way to keep your Quilotoa Loop spend low is to book the hostel’s shared dorms. They all have private options; however, if you prefer or are travelling as a couple.
On the final day (if you go the anti-clockwise route which we suggest), you will arrive in Quilotoa. The accommodation here is a little more expensive as it gets a greater influx of tourists coming to see the crater only.
For more information on the best hostels and places to stay along the Quilotoa Loop, click the link below.
Transport Costs On The Quilotoa Loop
Like the rest of Ecuador, buses are cheap. All you need to budget for is your bus from Latacunga to Sigchos on the first day and Quilotoa back to Latacunga on the last.
Bring a little extra cash with you in case you need to return from one of the towns in case of an emergency or something. Buses do run between them but infrequently, but the best option is paying a local to take you, which could cost anywhere between $10-$20.
Along with packing too much, we made quite a few mistakes before and during the trek. Read our post below so you don’t make the same mistakes we did.
For a more in-depth dive on the Quilotoa, read our complete guide here.
And for the best accommodation options head here.
Where to next in Ecuador? Banos or Cotopaxi are both logical next steps in an Ecuador backpacking route, but if you are unsure, you can start with our 1-month itinerary to help you start planning.
Or if you want to see how a 3-day Quilotoa trek fits into a wider Ecuador budget, then check out our Ecuador daily and monthly budget breakdowns. Enjoy!