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Cuicocha volcanic lake walk

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Hike around the rim of a volcanic caldera in Ecuador with views over its lake Cuicocha and the snow-draped Andean peaks beyond.

There aren’t so many places in the world where you can walk around the rim of an (extinct) volcanic crater – especially one as scenic as this, with a sparkling sapphire blue lake occupying the caldera.

Lake Cuicocha sits at around 3,400m above sea level on the tawny slopes of the extinct volcano Cotacachi, a half-hour drive from Otavalo and just outside the little town of Cotacachi - famous for its leather goods and worth a detour for a bit of shopping.  

There are two islands in the lake, one is supposed to resemble a guinea pig, which is what gave the lake its name (cuy means guinea pig in the Quechua language). You can visit the islands by boat, but the big attraction is the 5 hour walk around the crater’s rim, not only for the magnificent views of the tapestry of little fields and villages lorded over by a clutch of snow-draped volcanoes, but also for the variety of birds and flowering plants you will see.      

If you don’t want to walk for 5 hours you can just go part of the way, or even just visit the interesting interpretation centre.

Activity Rating: easy

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
Otavalo and the northern highlands

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

Meet the team