Trying to find out how to start the Quilotoa Loop from either Sigchos or Isinlivi? Look no further!
If you want to follow the same route as us, which leaves the crater lake in Quilotoa as your grandstand finish, then you'll need to catch a bus from Latacunga to either Sigchos or Isinlivi.
For either of these options, your first step is to make your way to the bus terminal in Latacunga, which is a 10 minute walk from Plaza Vicente Leon or a taxi ride for $1.25. Next to the terminal, you'll find a big supermarket which is also really cheap; a great place to stock up on snacks and water before your hike. And then you take either of the following options...
Latacunga to Sigchos
If you're starting the Loop in Sigchos, you are best to start the day with an early departure from Latacunga. From Sigchos, you can hike to Isinlivi (4-5 hours) along a relatively well marked trail and then spend the night at Llullu Llama - the best hostel on the Loop. The following morning, you'll set off for Chugchilán (5-6 hours hike).
Recommended bus departures from Latacunga: 6 a.m, 9.30 a.m, 10.30 a.m, 11.30 a.m on Monday to Friday.
On the weekend, bus times vary with your best bet at 9.30 a.m.
Fare: $2 per person / 2 hours
Latacunga to Isinlivi
Alternatively, you can spend a leisurely morning in Latacunga and take a bus direct to Isinlivi where you will spend the night at Llullu Llama, before hiking to Chugchilán the next day. This is the option we took and it was one of the most memorable bus journeys of our trip - all for good reasons! Curious kids, winding mountain roads, traditional dress everywhere and rugged landscapes, it's an activity in its own right!
Recommended bus departures: 12.15 p.m, 12.45 p.m on Monday to Friday.
Note that a number of hostels told us that the bus was at 1 p.m. - our advice to you is to turn up at either 12 or 12.30 p.m. With regards to the weekends, well, we're not entirely sure and would recommend you visit the bus station early in the day to confirm departures.
Fare: $3 per person / 2 hours 30 minutes
Click the markers on our interactive route map to connect the dots and have a better understanding of where all these towns are on the Loop and the distances between them.
Want to head straight to Quilotoa?
For those of your who want to do the reverse route and start off your trek at the crater lake, then transport options from Latacunga to the town of Quilotoa are much simpler and regular.
Either hop on the direct lunch-time bus (confirm times with your hostel), or take a regular bus to the town of Zumbahua (1 hour). From there you can easily find a collectivo pick-up truck to take you up to the small town of Quilotoa (45 minutes).
Fare: $3.5-4 per person (bus to Zumbahua costs $1.5, and a collectivo to Quilotoa between $2 and $3). Total travel time should be no more than 2 hours.
So there you have it. There are several other start points for those with limited time or who have no desire to hike for up to four days, however this is how we did it and we would both absolutely recommend it to you if you have the time and inclination!
You won't regret it!