Latacunga - The famous Laguna Quilotoa and the animal market Saquisilí


Latacunga is famous as starting place for the Quilotoa-Loop.

Walking 3-5 days between ingenious villages is one of the main goals for many travellers in Ecuador.


Actually, this was our plan too, but bad weather conditions changed it. 


We did the Laguna only in a single day and visited artists and two markets in the area. 


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The famous volcano Cotopaxi is only 40km away and easy to see by clear days.
The famous volcano Cotopaxi is only 40km away and easy to see by clear days.

We thought the travel from Mindo to Latacunga would be easy, take "only" four hours and that we just need to take two buses.


However, travelling in South America is never like you expect it. Instead of four hours it took us more than six hours and we had to take 2 buses, 2 official transport buses and 1 taxi. Besides the long trip, we had to cross whole Quito and of course it was raining again. 



About 90 kilometers away from Quito lies Latacunga, surrounded between high mountains at an altitude of 2750m above sea level. The volcano Cotopaxi is close, only 40km away. Almost 60 000 people live in Latacunga. 




If you are in town and want good food, check those two!

Laguna Quilotoa

Down in the crater, the Laguna looks like a normal lake in Switzerland.
Down in the crater, the Laguna looks like a normal lake in Switzerland.

Our actual plan in Latacunga was to hike the famous Quilotoa-Loop. However, bad weather conditions let us change the plan.


Instead of walking for 3-5 days in the Andes from one ingenious town to the next one, with freezing temperature at night and rain during the day, we booked a trip in our hostel to see the famous Laguna in one day.


Included to the tour was a visit at the market in Pujilí and the Cañon del Rio del Toachi, a riverbed from the volcano Cotopaxi which stretches to the Pacific Coast and is 400 meters deep. 


The trip took the whole day and was over 140km. Our guide was Edison, an Ecuadorian man who is living in Latacunga and studied tourism at the university. 


The emerald green Laguna Quilotoa is 250 meters deep, lies at an altitude of 3900 meter above sea level and is located in the middle of an active volcano, but the last eruption was 800 years ago. The name Quilotoa is Quechua and means "smile of princess Qui". We walked down to the crater. On the same level as the water, the sea looks similar to a Swiss lake. The weather conditions were bad and it rained almost the whole time. 


We stopped by two artist on our way. In Pujilí, we visited an artist who was painting the daily life in the Andes on goose and duck feathers. The artist allowed Laura to try it as well and she did it very good! 


Another artists which we visited, was on our way back from the Laguna Quilotoa. We stopped by a workshop of the Tigua painting. The Tigua painting shows as well the daily life in the Andes. The little artwork is made on leather and is famous for this region. 


Saturday market in Saquisilí

The price for one bull is around 600-700$ at the market
The price for one bull is around 600-700$ at the market

On Saturday there was a big market in the indigenous village Saquisilí. We had already visited the market in Otavalo and thought it would be the same, but it was a bit more barbaric. 


Together with a friend from Holland we visited the market of big animals first, at 8 in the morning. The market didn't start very good for us. In the entrance was a dead pig with blood on the ground and maybe not the only one which hadn't survived the stress. The market was big and people were selling cows, lamas, alpakas, sheep, goats, pigs and piglets next to each other. 


We observed several times that the animals got treated badly as they were dragged into a vehicle. There were several big pigs which escaped. 


The screaming pigs, the smell and to see all the treatment was difficult for us.


After a while we decided to leave this place and to move to the animal market with the little animals. We thought it would get better, but not at all. Hundreds of people were standing together at one place and traded about the price of their selling object. At this place they were selling guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, cats, dogs, chicken, geese, quails, doves, turkeys and gamecocks.


The textile, fruit and the rest of the market was a bit disappointing. 






Unfortunately, the weather in Latacunga was bad and we didn't do the Quilotoa-Loop or go to the famous volcano Cotopaxi.


Instead of that, we visited the Laguna in a single day with a guided tour.

Included to the tour, was a visit by the famous Tigua artists and the village Pujilí. 



The animal market in Saquisilí on Saturday was barbaric and is definitely not recommendable for sensitive people.

However, it was a interesting experience! 








Same same but different view!



We were also lucky to met Melo in Latacunga. She's friend of Laura since a long time and brought a bit Luxembourg to us.


Melo had travelled in Ecuador for six weeks.

If you are interested in her adventure, have a look at her blog!