Quilotoa is the westernmost volcano within the Ecuadorian Andes, and its two-mile wide caldera presents a stunning panorama with its green and turquoise tinted lake. The crater lake is rather deep at 250 meters, and its distinct coloring comes from the dissolved volcanic minerals remaining from its past eruptions. The crater was formed from volcanic activity around the 13th century AD, and has been dormant for much of Ecuador’s history. That being said, the lake floor contains fumaroles and the eastern rim has several hot springs that attest to its continuing geologic activity.
Quilotoa’s Crater Lake has popularized an experience now popularized as the Quilotoa Loop. Off Ecuador’s more beaten paths, the loop takes travelers into the heart of the Quichua-speaking indigenous peoples and into their daily practices, traditions, and beliefs. The loop courses through several small Andean towns and the more publicized villages of Quilotoa and Latacunga. The crater lake’s azure waters may be the most famous of the loop’s attractions, but it also features the Ilinizas Reserve (which includes the Ilinizas Twin Peaks volcanos), some stretches of cloud forest, and an intimate look at local artists and indigenous markets that preserve the centuries-old culture. In Ecuadorian exploration, the Quilotoa Loop is a unique opportunity to wander along ancient paths topped by glacial volcanoes where many myths were made and much of history was lost.