Hike the Quilotoa Loop
Venture off the beaten track for a quintessentially South American experience, coupling jaw-dropping natural scenery with the authentic culture of small highland communities.
The crater lake of Quilotoa lies within untouched countryside, a dramatic eruption of turquoise in a verdant and serene landscape. This is Andean Ecuador at its most beguiling, and a peppering of tiny villages huddled beneath jutting mountain peaks lends additional colour to the scene. Many host traditional early-morning markets where indigenous villagers from across the surrounding area congregate to catch up on all the latest gossip and trade at stalls piled high with fruit, livestock and textiles.
After visiting one of these markets, you'll visit the magnificent crater lake, 3914m, with the opportunity to walk the full circuit around its crumpled volcanic edges. Stay in the archetypal highland town of Chugchilán, from where with an optional extra day's hiking it's possible to walk back down to Quilotoa on one of the country's most scenic trails.