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The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-09

Part of Great Day Trip from Quito;
                You Can See a Lot in One day;
                                       Including Beautiful Laguna de Cuicocha
by Ray Almand

From Quito - All in a Day

Laguna de Cuicocha is a beautiful, small lake located near Otavalo.  I recently visited the lake with my old friend Andy, with LWE associate Juan driving.  We traveled up from Quito in the morning, stopping for a look at Lago San Pablo and Mount Imbabura along with a visit to Condor Park on the way to Otavalo.  We looked around the Otavalo Market and had lunch in a great restaurant right on Plaza De Los Ponchos recommended by Juan.  From there we went to the Waterfall at Peguche.  Here are links to prior Chronicles on Condor Park and the Waterfall at Peguche:

Condor Park:

Peguche Waterfall:

Beautiful Laguna de Cuicocha

Just as we were leaving Peguche heading for Cuicocha the clouds rolled in and it began to rain.  I was disappointed - I was hoping for clear weather to get some good pictures of the lake.  But in Ecuador the weather can change in minute.  It took less than 30 minutes to reach Cuicocha from Peguche on a good road.

Laguna Cuicocha is actually a small crater lake with very steep sides located in the caldera of an extinct volcano.  It is about two miles long and not quite as wide.  The surface of the lake is at an elevation of 10,650 feet and the lake is 656 feet deep.  Within the lake are two small rounded islands created by later eruptions - these give the lake its unique appearance and its name.  They appear to be the backs of two guinea pigs - Cuicocha means Guinea Pig Lake in the Quichua language of the Incas (still spoken today in much of Ecuador).  Guinea Pig, or Cuy, was an important source of protein for the pre-Columbian peoples of the Andes - it is still a very popular food in Ecuador.

Take a look at an earlier Chronicle on Cuy:

When we arrived at the main overlook area it was still very cloudy and sputtering rain.  We did manage a short hike along the trail that goes around the lake - it takes about five to six hours for experienced hikers to do the whole thing.  But I am not disappointed in the photographs.  With all the clouds, Cuicocha has the look of a mysterious dark lagoon - a good place for a smaller Ecuadorian version of the Loch Ness Monster.

If you want to stay at the lake there is Hosteria Cuicocha, right on the lake with great lake views.  There is also a dock near the hotel from which you can take boat rides around the lake.  We decided to forgo the boat ride in the rainy weather; besides it was getting late and we had put in a full day already.  We were after dark getting back to our apartment in Quito.



A Cloudy, Rainy Day at the Lake 

Humpbacked Islands Look Like Guinea Pigs??....

.......Yes - More Like Tasty Cuy in the Clouds - Yum, Yum


View from the Edge of the Caldera away from the Lake -
Still Looks like it is Raining Over There


There Goes the Boat - Watch out for Nessie


Lake, Caldera, Clouds


Would You Like to visit Ecuador and Play in the Rain -
Find Out How at: