Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador
After an hour on the bus from Latacunga, we arrived in Zumbahua, a tiny Andean village about 17 kilometers south of Quilotoa. We hired a pickup truck for a few bucks per person to take us and 3 other backpackers the rest of the way. Foreigners must also pay another $2 to enter the park. The village of Quilotoa itself is not much to write home about. Just a jumble of ramshackle hostales and a very sleepy artisans market. Since its inclusion in the Lonely Planet, Laguna Quilotoa is becoming more of a tourist destination and the many new construction sites reflect that. Locals seem to depend heavily on this new source of income. However, this being the low season, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
The lake itself was created around 800 years ago as a result of an eruption. The 3-kilometer-wide (1.9 miles) caldera has since become a 250 meter (820 ft.) deep lake, though the locals believe it actually has no bottom. Its vastness is difficult to appreciate until you are standing on the edge, watching the surface change colors like a mood ring.