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Cuicocha volcanic lake walk
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
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
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.
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.
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.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.
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.