Lakes & Hot Springs Walking Tour

From $908 per person

Hike the northern lake district of Imbabura with its green rolling hills, distinctive indigenous populations and beautiful lagoons, before crossing the Andes to explore the high grassland, hot spring region of Papallacta and the cloud forest of the Eastern Ecuador.

  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Duration: 4 days / 3 nights
  • Highlights: Imbabura Volcano - Cuicocha Crater Lake - Otavalo People & Market – San Pablo Lake - Papallacta Lakes – Natural Hot Springs – Guango Cloudforest Reserve
Mirador San Pablo


Day 1   Andean Life & Villages Hike (L,D)

We travel north from Quito. Our first stop of the day is at the Quitsato Museum, a giant sun dial which is located exactly on the Equator line. Here our traditional thinking about the Earth is challenged through revolutionary theories proposed by the museum. Great photo opportunity.

On arrival in the Otavalo region we walk along the foothills of the imposingly beautiful Imbabura Volcano, at an altitude of around 2600m - 2650m, passing by local farmlands & through surrounding communities, observing the everyday life of the colourful indigenous people. (7km – 2.5 hours)

Lovely views of the San Pablo Lake and surrounding volcanos. Picnic lunch included.

Time permitting in the afternoon we can visit a master weaver’s home and learn more about the traditional art of back-strap weaving, and also visit a family of Andean musicians who elaborate their musical instruments by hand and happily share their music with us.

Dinner & overnight in a local hacienda.

Day 2   Cuicocha Crater Lake

Our route today takes us along the rim of the striking Cuicocha Volcano, with its captivating blue-green crater lake. Hiking through Andean forest to discover orchids & bromeliads, we are also on the look-out for the endangered Andean Condor. Incredible lake views.

This is a circular route, classed as moderate. The first part of the hike is a climb for around one and a half hours, which brings us up from 3100m to 3500m, the second section of the hike has moderate ups and downs along the crater rim for around two hours, then the last hour and a half is a gentle downhill back to where we began. (5 hours – 12km)

Box lunch included.

In the afternoon we visit the pretty leather market town of Cotacachi before continuing on to the colourful handicraft market in Otavalo, where many different indigenous people, with their unique traditional dress and customs, from all across Ecuador, sell their artisan products and wares.

Day 3   Papallacta Paramo Walk (B,L,D)

This morning we journey from Imbabura to Papallacta, crossing the continental divide en-route.

Today's walk explores the beautiful glacial landscapes around Papallacta, passing mountain lagoons and discovering elfin forests where we can learn more about the distinct flora & fauna of this region.

Our in-and-out route begins with 20 minutes of climbing along a dust road from 3700m – 3850m. We then take a paramo trail which has moderate ups and downs for around 1 hour before our final climb up to 4000m where we reach the striking Laguna de Anteojos. From here we return the way we came.

Amazing views – look out for the snow-capped Antisana Volcano at the beginning of the hike. (10km – 4 hours)

Picnic lunch is included and at the end of the day we have access to the private spa at Termas Papallacta where we can relax in the rejuvenating natural thermal waters.

Dinner and overnight in a local lodge.

Day 4   Guango Nature Reserve

This morning we enjoy a walk within the cloud forest reserve at Guango located at 2700m. Following the forest trails we reach a secluded waterfall, before continuing our hike along the banks of the Papallacta river. Plenty of birdlife can be enjoyed along the way. (3km – 1. 5 hours)

Lunch at the lodge where the abundant & colourful hummingbirds are mesmerizing.

After lunch we return to Quito

3 Star Superior: Las Palmeras, Otavalo
4 Star: Hacienda Cusin, Otavalo
3 Star Superior: Guango Lodge, Papallacta
4 Star: Termas Papallacta, Papallacta


3 Star Superior Prices 2024
2 people
$1252 p/p
3 - 4 people
$1025 p/p
5 - 6 people
$908 p/p
4 Star Superior Prices 2024
2 people
$1495 p/p
3 - 4 people
$1235 p/p
5 - 6 people
$1077 p/p

Price includes:
Private transportation, top English-speaking guide, accommodation as specified, meals as specified (B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner), entry fees to Quitsato Museum, Spa at Papallacta Hot Springs & Guango Reserve.

Not included:
International flights, personal travel insurance, alcoholic and soft drinks, extra activities not specified, spa treatments, tips and personal expenses

Prices are stated in US Dollars.
Prices are valid until 31st December 2024.
This tour begins and ends in the city of Quito. For pick up / drop off in Quito airport extra charges will apply.

Day 1: Quitsato Museum & Sundial
Day 1: San Pablo Lake & Imbabaura Volcano, Andean Villages Hike
Day 1: Visiting master weaver's home in Peguche, learning about natural dyes
Day 2: Cuicocha Crater Lake Hike
Day 2: Hiking around Cuicocha Crater Lake
Day 3: Hiking in the Paramos of Papallacta
Day 3: Papallacta Lakes Hike
Day 3: Papallacta Hot Springs
Day 4: Guango Cloud Forest Reserve
Day 4: Hiking in Guango Nature Reserve
Day 4: Guango Nature Reserve Waterfall