Just south of Quito, the Quilotoa Loop is a hiking paradise, offering stunning Andean views as it winds through the highlands. Although gaining in popularity, this is still rather 'off the beaten track'. The route unofficially starts in the town of Latacunga and travels through many Andean villages, giving walkers the chance to meet the local people.
One of the highlights of the loop is the beautiful emerald Laguna Quilotoa, a lake in the crater of an extinct volcano. It was formed 800 years ago after a massive eruption caused the collapse of the volcano. The hike round the rim of the crater takes between 4 and 5 hours while the walk down to the lake edge takes about 2 hours. The loop does not have to be walked in its entirety. There are buses, though just 2 a day, that travel the circuit.
Time: GMT -5 hours
There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.
Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.
Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.