Laguna de Cuicocha and Cerro Cotatachi
Key information: Laguna de Cuicocha and Cerro Cotatachi
- Circuit a superb and fascinating caldera lake below stunning Cerro Cotatachi. Gorgeous views.
- Or make the challenging 2 day climb of this steep, dramatic mountain.
- Walkopedia rating86
- Natural interest18
- Human interest2
- Negative points2
- Total rating86
- Note: Negs: None for lake, if climb Cerro, sleep at 4,000m +
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: 3,400m / 4,944m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
Cerro Cotatachi is yet another dramatic former volcano, in this case collapsed in to its empty magma chamber to form a magnificent 3 km wide caldera containing the deep and often still Laguna de Cuicocha (at around 3,100m), complete with more recent cone-islands.
You can drive/bus to the lake from Otavalo. It is a popular spot, but you can escape most of your fellow humans on a reasonably straightforward 11 Km (4-5 hrs) circuit of the lake, much of it at the caldera rim. Superb views. There have been robberies here in the past, so check the current situation.
Cerro Cotatachi is climbable in 2 days from above the laguna. You will need to camp - but in lovely spots. The climb isn't straightforward - a helmet is said to be "imperative" by the Viva guide as a result of rockfalls, and you will traverse a knife-edge of rotten rock. But the views from the peak are tremendous. Walking the first part of this as a day walk is an option.
This climb is tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather, where altitude can cause real problems. Come fully prepared, including proper acclimatization.
Have a look at TripAdvisor - there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on guides, places to hike and places to stay.
Ecuador Climbing and Hiking Guide - Viva, has a worthwhile section on this walk. Find relevant books by using our Amazon search function:
Find the books and maps listed above, and many more:
For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Otavalo Area walk page.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more