Ultimate Packing List for the Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador

Ultimate guide on what to pack for hiking the Quilotoa Loop, best trek in Ecuador, from our personal experience includes a packing list and useful tips.
 

The three-days Quilotoa Loop is the most popular trek in Ecuador, and it still has its rightful place among the best hikes we've done in South America. We've created this ultimate packing list to help you figure out what you need to pack and what is better to leave behind.


Hiking is our favorite way how to explore the country.

It allows us to escape bustling and dusty cities and leave touts and pushy taxi drivers behind. Hiking through rural landscapes, lush greenery, climbing up hills and mountains, overcoming challenges along the way, and first of all, interacting with local people is liberating.

This is exactly what we have experienced on the Quilotoa Loop.

Although we for sure had enjoyed the capital city of Quito, biking down the highest peak of Ecuador, Chimborazo or hiking in Cajas National Park, our time spent on the Quilotoa Loop was different - unhurried, authentic and accompanied with splendid views.

You can read our two full comprehensive posts about this fantastic trek - Hiking Quilotoa Loop: The Most Popular Trek in Ecuador and 11 Reasons and Things to Know Before Hiking Quilotoa Loop, but in this post, we want to focus on things you need to pack with you.

We always struggle when it comes to packing, and it does not matter how many one or multi-day hikes we've done before.

That's why we've created this Ultimate Packing List for the Quilotoa Loop - it is necessary to know that you will carry all your belongings on your back, so it is essential to pack light and smart.

Quilotoa Loop packing list.

HOW MANY DAYS IT TAKES TO HIKE THE QUILOTOA LOOP

Before you start your Ecuador hiking adventure (and packing), you need to decide for how many days you want to hike the Quilotoa Loop. The full route is 38 kilometers long, and you can spend hiking the trek anything from two to five days, depending on your level of fitness and also on your travel style.

Even though Quilotoa Crater can be visited from Latacunga on a one-day trip, we believe that you've decided to hike the multi-day version of the Quilotoa Loop. The most classic route takes travelers three days to finish, but you can also start the hike a bit further (in Isinlivi instead of Sigchos), skip the first day, and make it to the end of Quilotoa Loop in two days only.

We hiked the Quilotoa Loop for three days, but from our experience, there is not much of difference in packing if you go hiking for two or five days.

What to pack for Quilotoa Loop.

WEATHER ON THE QUILOTOA LOOP

Weather on the Quilotoa Loop is hard to predict, and the combination with an altitude (Quilotoa Crater lies 3800 meters above sea level) means that you need to pack a bit of everything to feel comfortable - layers, layers and again layers is the rule number one. Nights and mornings are often chilly, while afternoons are hot and windy.

Generally, you can hike the Quilotoa Loop all year round.

The dry season in Ecuador runs from June to September (we did the hike in late September and weather was merciful to us without a single rainy day), while summer season, during which you can expect more rain showers is from November to March. Fall and spring are short and can turn either way.

You can hike Quilotoa Loop all year round.

PACKING LIST FOR THE QUILOTOA LOOP

Because this hike requires that you must carry everything you are going to need for the next three days on your back, we recommend you to pack as light as possible.

Here's our packing list for the classic Quilotoa Loop:

  • Rucksack for Him & for Her | If you can, leave your big travel backpack in Latacunga, and pack yourself into a smaller and comfortable one.

  • T-shirts or Sleeveless T-shirts for Him & for Her | When hiking, it was really very hot most of the time from 10 AM to 4 PM. Pack two functional t-shirts with you for the three days hike.

  • T-shirts with Long Sleeves for Him & for Her | Mornings and evenings are chilly on the Quilotoa Loop, so pack two functional t-shirts. We use them as an additional layer and always try to keep one t-shirt clean for sleeping.

  • Leggings for Him & for Her | When it's cold, I prefer to hike in leggings while Martin brings his as an extra layer just in case.

  • Shorts for Him & for Her | Although in the mountains, afternoons are usually warm in Ecuador, and we always prefer to wear shorts when it is not too cold.

  • Hiking Trousers for Him & for Her | It is always better to have extra layers to strip off rather than to be cold, that's our rule of thumb, that's why we always have hiking trousers with us.

  • Fleece Jacket for Him & for Her | Fleece jacket is useful when in the hostel or when you decide to take a break during the hike - the cold wind can make you feel uncomfortable within a minute.

  • Windproof and Waterproof Jacket for Him & for Her | A quality rain and waterproof jacket is a must-have when hiking in the mountains where the weather can change any minute.

  • Down Jacket for Him & for Her | No matter how lightly we want to pack ourselves, we hate to feel cold, that's why we always have a down jacket with us - it is incredibly useful when you stop hiking.

  • Rain Poncho | When it starts raining, we immediately take out the plastic rain poncho which covers backpacks as well.

  • Hiking Boots for Him & for Her | If you need to buy new hiking shoes before your trip to Ecuador, try to break them before walking the Quilotoa Loop. Sturdy shoes with good soles are a must.

  • Hiking Socks | It is important to have at least one pair of dry hiking socks for every day to prevent blisters.

  • Underwear for Him & for Her | We prefer wearing functional underwear for hiking like these.

  • Sports Bra | Obviously, for girls only.

  • Hiking Poles | Carrying hiking poles depends on if you are used to them or not. It is not that necessary as on the Inca Trail because the terrain is not that hard, but I always find them useful.

  • Sunglasses for Him & for Her | You need to keep your eyes protected at all times because sun in the mountains is strong.

  • Gloves for Him & for Her | Check the weather forecast and if it is going to be chilly, pack gloves with you.

  • Hat | You can take either warm hat or hat against the sun, whatever works better for you.

  • Flip Flops or Sneakers for Him & for Her | We always prefer to change shoes so we do not wear our wet hiking shoes from the day in the evening.

Our packing guide for Quilotoa Loop got you covered.

Toiletries & GEAR

When it comes to toiletries, try to pack as little as possible.

No one expects you to look glamorous along the trek! Because we stayed in hostels in private rooms along the Quilotoa Loop, we did not pack with us soap or travel towel because it was provided.

Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador is an amazing multi-day trek.

Electronics

Hostels along the Quilotoa Loop have electricity and wi-fi, so you don't need to bring with your power bank. When packing electronics, valuables, and other useful equipment make sure you have the following:

  • iPhone | We love Maps.me app and found essential to have a good map on the phone because the trail was not always clear.

  • Phone Cover | When you use you phone as a camera, take a phone cover because you will take it out of your pocket too often.

  • Charger for Your Phone & Camera

  • Camera | Bring a compact travel compact camera or use your phone for taking pictures.

  • Spare Batteries for Camera

  • Kindle | For us, having a portable library is a luxury we don't want to give up even when hiking in the mountains.

  • SD Cards | Bring extra memory cards. Trust us nature around is so beautiful that you will need them.

  • GPS Watch | Smartwatch has been very trendy lately, and you can find it useful for outdoor activities.

Quilotoa Loop is amazing trek in Ecuador.

WHERE TO STAY ON QUILOTOA LOOP

Isinlivi: We stayed in pleasant Hostal Taita Cristobal, or there is another and more popular option with jacuzzi Hostal Llulu Lama.

Chugchilan: There are a few reasonable accommodations in this village. We decided on Hostal Cloud Forest, but there are also other excellent lodgings such as Hostal El Vaquero.

Quilotoa: The most touristy village of all, because visitors can get here directly by bus from Latacunga. Prices are also a bit higher, and not all hotels include breakfast and dinner in the rate. Try Hostal Chukirawa.

Hiking Quilotoa Loop was challenging.

WATER ON THE QUILOTOA LOOP

Unfortunately, it's not possible to drink tap water in Ecuador, so in order to keep your plastic waste to minimum, buy SteriPen.

Or consider carrying this Purification Filter Bottle if you want to reduce your plastic footprint.

Otherwise, you can buy water in your hostel or in small shops along the way so you can fill your Nalgene Bottle or Camel Bag. Staying hydrated when hiking, especially in the altitude is really important.

Quilotoa Loop is difficult hike in Ecuador.

FOOD

We did not take any snacks with us apart from some bananas and energy bars for the first day.

We had an early lunch in Sigchos and later ate only in the hostels. We always had breakfast and dinner included in the room rate (it is a standard) and asked for a packed lunch for the next day, so you don't need to worry that you'll be hungry on the Quilotoa Loop.

To get some extra energy, we found these Nutrition Energy Gels fantastic while hiking.

It is possible to buy snacks in small stores in both Sigchos, Isinlivi, Chugchilan or Quilotoa.

Packing guide for Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

We never leave our country without proper insurance and so you should not.

Quilotoa Loop will take you through a rural countryside of Ecuador and getting insurance is essential!


MONEY

There is no ATM along the way, so do not forget to take enough cash with you. You will need to pay for your transport, accommodation, and food - three days and two nights cost us roughly $100 for two people.

You need to bring a cash as there are no ATMs along the way.

WHERE TO STORE YOUR BELONGINGS BEFORE THE TREK

Unless you want to train for a Sherpa, it is more than likely that you will need to store your belongings which you do not want to carry with you along the Quilotoa Loop in Latacunga, the nearest big city to Quilotoa, where you can also spend a night before and after the hike.

There are several hotels and hostels in Latacunga where you can safely store your valuables and belongings.

We've handpicked three accommodations in Latacunga for every budget where you can stay and leave your stuff meanwhile you'll be hiking the Quilotoa Loop.

Budget: Hostal Cafe Tiana | Mid-range: Hotel Llactacunga | Luxury: Hotel San Agustin Plaza


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