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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

Papagaio

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