Cotopaxi is one of the smaller Andean provinces of Ecuador. Tucked away south of Quito it is a place easily explored from the capital. The enormous peaks and fascinating culture make for an amazing experience.
A spectacular two-hour bus ride west from Latacunga, rolling green hills and craggy peaks surround the tiny village of Zumbahua. This backdrop creates great hiking possibilities, but Zumbahua’s true charm lies in its Saturday market, an event that brings indigenous Andeans from across the Cotopaxi region to buy and sell a plethora of goods including produce, meat, clothing, cutlery, and livestock.
Saquisili is a typical mountaintown in Cotopaxi. The little town sleeps almost the entire week, but on Thursday it comes alive. The big local market attracts salesmen and farmers from the entire province to sell their fruits, vegetables, meat and a lot of other things used by farmers.
The market is the heart of the town and shows you the local culture in a nutshell. Everybody shows up in their traditional clothing, which makes for a colorful sight.
The petite town of Quilotoa at first look appears barren with small clusters of hostels operated by ambitious Ecuadorians, but as one mounts the trail just beyond the avenue of hostels a spectacular expansive emerald lake obliterates any doubts of the quaint village’s beauty. Patches of anamorphic shapes glide across the water, originating from the bulbous billowy clouds above. Laguna Quilotoa is not a ghost town but a community whose economy centers on the bounty activities stemming from the lake. Quilotoa is the highlight destination of the Cotopaxi circuit/loop named after it. The loop begins in Latacunga and travels through the market town of Zumbahua to Quilotoa, and through Sigchos.
If you’re looking for somewhere to party, Cotopaxi province’s capital city is not where you want to be. But Latacunga is a friendly, quiet town that is a great place to rest up before or after trekking Volcan Cotopaxi or visiting Zumbahua, Lago Quilotoa, or any of the province’s other small mountain villages. The town is also home to the famous Mama Negra festivals and a heart stopping gastronomic concoction called the chugchucara.
Sigchos isn´t particularly high on the lists of places to visit by many travellers. It lacks the typical Andean feel and seems fairly modern in comparison to other places in the region. Most travellers prefer the more indigenous towns of Zumbahua and Quilotoa to get a better feel for the region and enjoy the folklore of the Andean culture.
Pastocalle is worth a visit for the stunning location of the town.
The little town is tucked away between some of the highest peaks of the country. Pastocalle can be found close to the national Park ' Los Illinizas', know for its biodiversity and as a great hiking area at all levels.
At this moment there are not a lot of facilities offered in the small indigenous community, but it is certainly a great place to do a hike for a day or two. There are several local guides willing to take you around the area and offer you an amazing tour of the mountainous area.