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Deep in the heart of Ecuador, this route lets you see highlights of both sierra and coastal rural life, from the highest Andean communities to life in its richest lowland agricultural region

Depart Latacunga, home to the fantastic Mama Negra festival every September, west into the Quilotoa circuit, a beloved loop road that traverses the Cotopaxi highlands and returns to Latacunga. However, you won't be going around the whole loop, just half of it. Along the way to Zumbahua, stop off to see the unique and colorful paintings on leather of the Tigua community. You can either stay right there in Tigua at La Posada, or continue on to Zumbahua to use as a base for walking around the rim of the spectacular lake-filled volcano Laguna Quilotoa. You can trek not just around the rim of the lake-filled volcano, but back down the mountain through the Zumbahua canyon and then exit right back in Tigua. Many backpackers also love to go even higher up the loop to Chugchilan for amazing scenery.

From Zumbahua, the road goes further west to La Mana, a place for many parades and dances, or explore a great bat cave (La Cueva De Los Murcielagos) down by the river (with a guide of course!)For mountain hikers that want to scale one of the largest mountains in Ecuador, this is a well-known place for training on the smaller but still impressive Iliniza and you will find entrance to the Iliniza reserve here past La Mana.

The highway empties out into the hot and muggy Quevedo, where a majority of the country's Chinese immigrants have settled to take up an agrarian life. If you're craving Chinese food, this is the best place in Ecuador to go hunting for exactly what you want. Quevedo is also an important transporation hub to all directions of Ecuador. Farther south on the road to Guayquil is Babahoyo, where you should visit the historic Casa de Olmedo, home of many events and inspiration to Ecuadorian national poems. Live it up at the unique inland beach, Playas del Salto, or catch the fantastic rodeo in October for the for which this region is known.

Take a step into the subtropical forest in General Elizalde to observe the biodiversity of the region, including heliconia and lemongrass plants, and wildlife like ocelots, leopards, and anteaters. Then cool off in one of the several popular waterfalls around Bucay.

Your last stop before getting to Guayaquil should be Durán, just across the bridge. Durán is the boarding point for a great train ride to Yaguachi, and along the way you see a wide variety of wetland and plains birds that love to habitate the area.


Laguna Quilotoa
  • On this route:
  • Pujilí |
  • Tigua |
  • Zumbahua |
  • Quilotoa |
  • Chugchilan |
  • La Maná |
  • Valencia |
  • Quevedo |
  • Ventanas |
  • Babahoyo |
  • Pajonal |
  • Milagro |
  • General Elizalde |
  • Bucay |
  • Yaguachi |
  • Durán |
  • Guayaquil!

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