Cuicocha Lagoon, also known as Lagoon of the Gods, is the result of a volcanic eruption that happened over 3,000 years ago! Located just 12 km from Cotacachi, within the Imbabura province, Cuicocha is known for its turquoise waters, a huge 3 km diameter and the legends of its creation. The color of the water and the bubbles that can often be seen on the surface are consequences of its high sulfuric properties. This majestic lagoon is one of our favorite destinations for a weekend getaway!
Breathtaking scenery is part of the trip but Cuicocha is much more than that. While today the lagoon is a place to hike, relax, enjoy the beautiful landscape and meditate, it has always been important to indigenous communities in Ecuador. Cuicocha is a sacred lagoon, a place of worship, where every year, locals renew their spirits and thank the Earth for everything it has given us. If you get the chance to visit during the Inti Raymi celebrations you can observe people from the Cotacachi region engage in ceremonial purification baths- thanking Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) for the harvests.
Hiking Cuicocha and other activities
The lagoon rests within the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve and it is full of life! At an altitude of 3.068m, the lagoon is surrounded by trails and viewpoints. We recommend doing the Gorky Campuzano trail that circles the lagoon to fully enjoy the experience of the paramo. It’s the best opportunity to explore its vegetation and encounter wildlife as you go. Did you know that hummingbirds, rabbits and foxes inhabit the paramos of Cuicocha? The trail has an extension of 12,5km and a duration of approx. 4 hrs and it might be kind of demanding but it is definitely worth it!
However, if you don’t have much time or just want a shorter adventure, don’t worry, you can also walk up to a viewpoint following the Orquídeas trail (short- approx. 40 min) or rent a boat and tour around Cuicocha’s two islets Yerovi and Theodore Wolf (approx. 20 min)!
Cotacachi Cayapas is an ecological reserve
It is important to remember that Cuicocha is inside an Ecological Reserve and even though there is no entrance fee, you do have to register and be aware of opening and closing times (8 am to 5 pm.) If you want to spend the night, there is a hostel inside the reserve- but you should try and book in advance because it can get full pretty quickly.
Grab a bite?
During your visit, let’s please not forget local gastronomy: if you’re a foodie, or just want to try some local dishes, then you’re in for a treat! In the cafeteria and the hotel’s restaurant, you can have delicious cheese empanadas (known as “empanadas de viento” or “wind empanadas”), fritada and llapingachos.
No plans for the weekend? A visit to Cuicocha is sure to be an unforgettable experience!