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Cotacachi is known for quality leather goods at bargain prices and just up the road from Cotacachi is the famous crater lake of Cuicocha, a great place to take in the breathtaking andean views.



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Andean myths and legends surrounding this place, ancestral stories, love the mountains, disappearances and natural phenomena that make it breath taking for anyone who comes to the Volcano, especially if the fog slow opens the road.

Visitors are attracted to this poignant volcano lagoon, with its beauty and mystery it calls travelers to feel the chilling atmosphere that makes one feel that time stopped.

Cotacachi is the northern highlands of Ecuador. On a road that winds the slopes of Cotacachi, the Andean highlands is drawn green and yellow, with crops, animals and mountains that are intertwined in this rugged Andean architecture. 

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Cotacachi means "Tsui-car" or lake of the gods, pre-Inca dialect, although it is popularly known as The Lake of guinea pigs by the similarity between one of its islands, and the shape of the Andean rodent.

  • When it is said that the summits were gods and goddesses, they sailed on great waters, endlessly. It was the way the earth was formed, a tangle of mist, water and giant creatures moved from one place to another.
  • The Taita (father) Imbabura, handsome young man, tall and strong, found on an altar of the majestic clouds Cotacachi, which led to flirtations that were seen among the clouds, as winds were launched .
  • The result of this intense love between mountains Yanaurco was born, who with his parents saw him pass the time and age his father, who covers her face, therefore, always within clouds.
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  • The lagoon is Cuicocha active volcanic caldera, formed about 3000 years ago after an eruption of Cotacachi. It has a diameter of 2.5 kilometers, and has two domes (islands), Yerovi and Wolf.
  • Cuicocha is at an altitude of 3060 meters above the sea, next to Cotacachi of 4939 meters, both connected by solid edges and slopes that rise to the top of the Ecological Reserve "Cotacachi-Cayapas" both are protected areas by the Ministry of Environment. The reserve covers the provinces of Imbabura and Esmeraldas.
  • Volcanic activity is perceived by the west bank of the lagoon through gases and sulfate waters with higher temperatures than the rest, gases  gush from the bottom of the volcano, located 200 meters under water.

 Walking ring


 The journey that passes around the outer edges and top of the lagoon, is a walk of 12 miles, which can take between three and five hours, depending on the condition of the traveler, his speed and desire. The dimensions ranging from 3100 meters to 3400 meters.

 The rate hike is easy, there is a very marked trail along the way, with enough signs of flora and fauna, advice on the environment and respect for nature. In part, the road rises to cross the unpaved road up to the antennas of Cotacachi, where you can have a supply point with vehicles.

 Then continues for several lookout points, ideal for picnics, so also do not forget to bring your camera. From this point you can recognize the starting area of the walk, and the ways of the lagoon with its islets. If the clouds cooperate, can also be seen as the Imbabura volcano, Pululahua, Pichincha, Cayambe and Mojanda and the neighboring cities of Otavalo, part of Quito, San Antonio de Pichincha and the area of Quiroga, which drops sharply to the coast.

 As the road passes, one can see typical Andean flora: pumamaquis, polilepys, chilcas, GIS and Chuquiragua typical moor. In future, the lower bound path until you cross the bridge over the dry river. Formerly, the melting of glaciers feeding the lake, but now it happens only in the winter.

 With regards to fauna, this is way off track, and only you can see birds of moor. The end of the march that tied the passable road up the west side of the mountain, featuring a huge pine trees planted on the edge of the mountain. This hike is a classic stroll of "acclimatization", where the body adapts to the height, then marches to take greater height, in mountains near Taita Imbabura as the same or the Cayambe snow. But if that is not the aim of those who read this description of the voyage of Cuicocha, the ring also offers several options for sharing, walking and enjoying the heath family and nature, to prepare a cucayo, sharing drinks and watch the mix of majesty and generously provided by the Cuicocha and Cotacachi. It is important to be prepared for an activity such as a wilderness hike exposure to sun, wind and cold brings dehydration and skin burns, the best protection is to do an umbrella or a hat for the sun.

 Warm clothing and a windbreaker made more comfortable for adventure, food and fluid is important, but in height not adequately digest protein heavy, so most importantly the "fuel", ie carbohydrates. Thirst end with a couple of liters of liquid. While the family can walk the trail around Cuicocha, there are options to consider and to decide not to cross the stage, through a spring from which boats go sailing in the lagoon, you can have lunch or coffee with Considering all the Lagoon here. And for the more daring, the challenge will be a dip in the icy waters of Cuicocha. You can also visit the interpretation center of the reserve, which explains and shows the history, flora and fauna, to one side of the craft stalls and Andean textiles.

 Finally, you can camp on the top of the reserve or spend the night at the Inn at Los Pinos, the next day to climb the volcano Cotacachi by a sharp edge of grassland, supporting the wind off the coast to reach the rocky from the top.