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laguna cuicocha

This beautiful lake was formed when part of the Cotacachi volcano caved in on itself during an eruption, forming a large crater with two small islands in the middle.

The entrance to the park is on the main road uphill from Quiroga.

100m from the guard post is a visitor centre. It is quite interesting, with a relief model of the Cotacachi-Cayapas reserve and displays on flora and fauna. Outside you get the first view of the lake, close to the water level.

A road leads down to El Mirador restaurant, from where you can take a boat trip around the lake and between the two islands, stopping briefly on one of them.

Walking around the lake
An even better idea is to walk around the lake. This takes about five hours allowing plenty of time to stop and enjoy your surroundings. The view of the countryside and the lake itself are stunning and you don´t really get bored of looking at it because the angle is always changing. The path is well maintained and pretty clear to follow. I´d read that security was an issue but the guards assured me that there had been no problems in recent times as they were maintaining a more active presence.

We started walking anti-clockwise from the guard post, first climbing up and in the final section returning down the track that leads to the Intag. This section is 3km and boring because you can´t see anything over the hedge. Therefore it might be worth getting your taxi to continue up the track to leave you by the private property next to some pine trees where the path starts.

Another alternative if you have less time or energy is to get the taxi (best to ask the pick-ups in Quiroga) to take you up the track towards the volcano. The track passes close to the highest point of the path. From there you can walk back downhill in maybe 90 minutes.

Buses for the Intag pass the guard post but are infrequent. There is no other public transport so you have to walk, hitch or take a taxi ($5 from Cotacachi and Quiroga).

To return you can arrange for the taxi driver to pick you up, but there will usually be a few vehicles going down who might give you a lift.

It costs $2 for Ecuadorian and foreign visitors to enter the park. Under 16’s and over 65’s pay 50 cents. Children under 2 years old don’t have to pay.


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