Ultimate Packing List for the Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Rain Poncho | When it starts raining, we immediately take out the plastic rain poncho which covers backpacks as well.
Hiking Socks | It is important to have at least one pair of dry hiking socks for every day to prevent blisters.
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.
Hat | You can take either warm hat or hat against the sun, whatever works better for you.
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.
Glasses | Contact Lenses | Multi-Purpose Solution
Sunscreen | Sun on the equator is strong, having a good sunscreen with high SPF, is a must.
Lip Balm with Sunscreen | We always also bring it otherwise our lips are a mess because of the sun and wind.
First-Aid Kit | Quilotoa Loop is quite remote, so it is wise to carry your own first-aid kit altogerher with personal medicaments you use on a daily basis.
Linen or Cocoon | Accommodation on the Quilotoa Loop was considerably clean, but we also bring cocoon alias silk liner just in case - we also use it as an additional layer when it is cold at night.
Duct Tape | When your backpack or boots break down, duct tape might do the magic.
Headtorch | We did not do any hiking early in the morning or late at night still headtorch is a thing we never set on a hike in the mountains without.
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.
WHERE TO STAY ON QUILOTOA LOOP
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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