(This is not a sponsored post). If you are interested in seeing Quilotoa Lake in Ecuador either via the Quilotoa Loop or just on a day trek, you would be remiss if you didn’t stay a night at the Black Sheep Inn. This lovely, family-run hotel sits at 10,400 feet above sea level, in the hills near the small town of Chugchilan, in the province of Cotopaxi. It is an ecolodge that feels like you’re staying at Grandma’s house.
The owners, Andres and Michelle, hired a local family to run the Inn. Edmundo, the father, makes all the guests feel like family. There’s always freshly baked cookies, chocolate cake, and the most delicious banana bread. All meals are included and vegetarian. They even pack you a sack lunch to go with you on your hike. The Inn includes private rooms with and without ensuite bathrooms, a bunkhouse with comfortable dorm beds, and amenities like a gorgeous yoga studio, an open-air gym, a wood heated sauna and hot tub, and when available there’s a zip line and water slide. This ecolodge abides by environmentally sound practices like dry composting toilets and recycling, but still retains the comforts of a luxury lodge.
The Black Sheep Inn also provides a great launch pad for many hikes around this luscious natural area. Most importantly, they provide transportation to Quilotoa Lake. This way you can arrive at the lake early, before the clouds settle in and obscure the view, and then just hike back to the lodge.
Quilotoa Lake is one of the most beautiful attractions in the Cotopaxi region of Ecuador. Unfortunately though, those hiking the loop oftentimes miss the view of its forest green waters due to fog that settles in late morning. We had the pleasure of arriving by 9:30am from the lodge and being rewarded with spectacular views of the lake. The waters glistened with the sharpest shades of green and teal as we traversed a section of the rim. Every few steps, the waters grew deeper and deeper shades of green and reflected the shifting clouds in the sky. By 11:30am though, we watched as fluffy white clouds moved in quickly like soldiers marching to war. Within moments the entire crater filled with a blanket of clouds that obscured the entire view of the lake.
Sadly, for all those we passed on our descent, who planned to finish the loop that day, the views of Quilotoa Lake were gone. This seems to be the story for most people hiking in from the last town on the loop. They arrive to a crater full of clouds like a bubbling witch’s cauldron. So, I suggest instead that you all finish your final day by staying at the Black Sheep Inn and cheating just a little so you can actually see the lake.
You work so hard to reach this final destination on the loop and then you don’t even receive the reward of viewing the crisp green waters below. Spend one extra night nearby at the Inn for $35/dorm bed or $60/private bed with all meals included. Then split the truck ride up with other guests for $5/person and arrive in the morning to see the best views of the lake. From there you can choose several options of hiking for the day. Edmundo will help you choose the best hike for you. When you return to the Inn, either on foot or by car, the sauna and hot tub will be waiting for you to warm up and soak your muscles. You can also enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea and some sweets. I promise it’s totally worth it.
Ethan and I only had two days to visit Quilotoa and managed to make a huge group of new friends at the Inn that all rode up to the lake and hiked back together. It was the best two days, spent bonding with great people, hiking the rim of Quilotoa lake and back to the lodge, and soaking in the hot tub. We only wish we had more time to spend at Black Sheep Inn, so we could explore all the other trails they have to offer. There was nothing better than sitting down to a big family dinner with all the guests at the end of the day. The homemade vegetarian food filled our bellies and the great company made our hearts warm.
If you plan to do the Quilotoa Loop or just want to visit the lake in one shot, stay at the Black Sheep Inn. You won’t regret it! Just look at these views: