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Laguna Cuicocha

June 2, 2012

High above the town of Otavalo is a beautiful crater lake called Laguna Cuicocha. It is in the massive Cotacachi-Cayapas reserve but it is free to enter. There is even a paved road all the way up. There have been some changes here though and it is no longer possible to stay the night at the lake.

After talking to the ranger at the visitor centre we decided to try and walk round the whole lake. He had told us that this was a walk of around 6 hours however as it was already 1.30pm we knew that we needed to do it quicker than this.

We decided to walk counter-clockwise and this meant that we needed to climb to begin with. The first third of the walk involved a climb from 3000m to 3500m at the highest point. The views across the lake were stunning and you could see right across the valley to Otavalo. Once on the backside of the lake there were also views deeper into the park which had a stark Paramo landscape.

We were a little disappointed that the last quarter of the walk you have to come away from the lake edge and walk down a road but its all downhill and goes quickly. We finished the walk in around 3hrs 45mins so we made it back well before dark.

Now we had to find somewhere to spend the night – fortunately I’d spotted an area to pull off the road just before the entrance to the Laguna. It was a spectacular place to spend the night, overlooking the Otavalo valley and was very quiet.

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