Currently, Ecuador ranks as one of the favorite sustainable destinations worldwide due to its astounding biodiversity, thus, this is the opportunity to start a fantastic outdoor adventure for natural enthusiasts to uncover Ecuador’s popular trekkings! These routes promise captivating sceneries steeped with endemic Andean wildlife. From the impressive shadow of Cotopaxi to the tranquil waters of volcanic crater lakes, choose the path that will inspire you to connect with nature.

Limpiopungo Lake (3,800 m/ 12,400 ft)

Beneath the majestic Cotopaxi, Limpiopungo Lake invites adventurers to walk on a trail for an encounter with aquatic and migratory bird species, wild horses, deers, and lamas in a high-altitude area that forges a deep connection with nature at every step. Also, this route lets you take incredible photographs of Cotopaxi Volcano from every angle. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a novice, this is an easy-level trail. The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours.

Cuicocha Lake (3,068 m/ 10,650 ft)

This lake located in the Imbabura province offers a mix of excitement and serenity. Explore scenic trails and/or take a boat ride across the volcanic crater lake for an unforgettable combination of trekking and leisure water excursions. During the trip, you will witness two small islands in the center of the lagoon, covered with lush forest and many flora and fauna. It is an easy-to-moderate trail that takes approximately four hours to complete the loop around the lake.

Quilotoa Crater Lake (3,900 m/ 12,840 ft)

This is a must-visit Ecuadorian highlight in the Cotopaxi province. Travelers can be part of a 1-hour trek of medium level of difficulty, to reach the shore of the enchanting turquoise lake waters of volcanic origin, as well as, you can go through the trail by riding a mule. Engage in complimentary activities like horseback riding, kayaking, camping, or immersing yourself in a comprehensive and enriching experience with the nearby indigenous communities. Don’t miss out on taking an iconic photo from the crater viewpoint. A recommended activity for experienced hikers is the Quilotoa Loop, an approximately 6-hour circuit that ensures a dynamic encounter with Ecuadorian landscapes and culture. This adventure can be complemented by the Quilotoa Loop circuit that ensures a dynamic encounter with the Ecuadorian landscapes and culture.

El Cajas National Park (3,152–4,445 m / 10,341–14,583 ft)

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of El Cajas National Park in the Azuay province. This high-altitude reserve is dotted with glacial lakes, rugged peaks, and Andean moor, making it a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Explore the network of hiking trails, marvel at the unique flora and fauna, and witness the beauty of the pristine lakes that adorn the park. The trails here range from easy walks suitable for beginners to challenging hikes for experienced trekkers, offering options for adventurers of all levels. The duration of these treks ranges from 1 hour to even two days. We recommend a hike to the LLaviuco Lagoon, as it is the nearest highlight from Cuenca, where you can spot wildlife, witness astonishing landscapes, and go fishing.

Travel tips for hiking

Your journey awaits, offering a visual feast and immersive experiences beyond the ordinary. Consider the following suggestions to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

  • Acclimatization: Before your day trip, take time for acclimatization. It is recommended to exercise, keep a healthy diet, and avoid drinking or smoking to be in good physical condition. Allow your body to adjust by ensuring adequate rest and sleep. Practice hiking in places at lower altitudes. Then, during the trip, combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water and energy drinks to compensate for increased perspiration. Do not overexert yourself and keep up the pace.
  • The best time for hiking in Ecuador is during the dry season, from June to September.
  • Gear Checklist: Comfortable hiking boots, warm clothes, hat, UV sunglasses, backpack, water bottle, camera, first aid kit, sunscreen, snacks, and a map.

Contact Pure! Ecuador tour operator for more trekking options, as well as tailor itineraries for your clients that promise seamless adventure travel that combines nature, culture, and excitement.

Published in December 2023