Hike around Cuicocha Lake
Ecuador › Cuicocha Lake
Added by Jamie Fleck
Located in the beautiful and scenic Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve, this stunning lake also has views of Cotacachi Volcano, and the Isla Wolf and Isla Yerovi islands. Good practice for hiking mountains with higher altitudes.
Not very far from the touristy Ecuadorian town of Otavalo and the retirement paradise of Cotacachi is the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve. It boasts a rainforest, many volcanic lakes, and waterfalls. The infamous 11,089 foot tall Cotacachi Volcano is located within the reserve, towering near the Cuicocha Lake.
You can view the Cotacachi Volcano, as well as the Cuicocha Lake and its two islands, Isla Wolf and Isla Yerovi, by entering the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and going to the information center where the trailhead is. The hiking trail loops around the crater lake.
Signage suggest taking the trial clockwise (which is what we did and is extremely steep), but for those looking for a more leveled and scenic view immediately, it is recommended to hike counter clockwise on the trail. The trail involves extreme changes in altitude, so drinking copious amounts of water and staying well hydrated to acclimate are essential to getting through the trail without experiencing altitude sickness. It can rain sporadically and mist over in the area, so keep a poncho handy with you to keep dry and comfortable.
Even if you don't hike the entire trail, hiking some of it is still worthwhile the view. It is no wonder the Cotacachi Volcano and Cuicocha Lake draw so many people to come visit the area each year, as there is quite nothing like it.
- Abundant amount of water
- Layered clothing
- Hiking shoes
- Cash for taxi and food if no transportation scheduled
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Chillin, Hiking, Photography
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
Que Lindo! - Beautiful Views Of Lake And Countryside
This is a challenging, yet worthwhile hike. The views are incredible for the entirety of the hike and you are able to see an array of paramo vegetation. A truck can easily be hired in Cotacachi near the bus terminal. I recommend hiking clockwise around the lake, so you end up at the control/visitor's center. (The trail isn't a complete loop.) Tell your driver you want to be dropped off at "el sendero más arriba" The weather can change quickly, so come prepared with warmer layers and a raincoat. Finally, the signage (and my driver) said it takes 5 hours to hike. I finished in 3 hours and stopped many times to take in the views! Enjoy!
More Adventures Nearby
Backpack to El Altar
Ecuador / Candelária
Local Ecuadorian outdoorspeople constantly tout El Altar as the best place in Ecuador for outdoor adventure. Ecuador’s 5th highest peak, El Altar (17,451 ft.
Climb Volcan Cayambe
Ecuador / Volcan Cayambe
Cayambe is Ecuador’s third tallest peak and is often recommended as an excellent mountain for first-time mountaineers looking to gain glacier travel and high-altitude climbing experience.