Chugchilan is a small village about 90 km from Latacunga. It is close to Quilotoa, where a famous crater lake is located at an altitude of 3,500 meters above sea level. The lake is filled with green water, up to 250 m deep and looks very impressive. You can walk around the caldera rim in a taxing 10 km hike.
I would assume that everybody who visits Chugchilan comes for the crater lake at Quilotoa, but there are some interesting hiking trails at Chugchilan as well. You can also walk from Chugchilan to the crater lake (about 10 km, with very steep parts) or vice versa.
The crater lake at Quilotoa, detail
It is usually better to arrive at the crater lake early it seems, so we went there in a hired truck and walked back to the hostel. The reason is that, while we were there, it started raining around 2 p.m. every day — and usually it did not stop for the rest of the day.
The whole area lies very high and gets a lot of rain, so be sure to bring warm clothes, good hiking boots and rainwear. Most of the hikes are rather long and I assume they can get very frustrating if you have to do the last few hours completely drenched. You can walk to the cloud forest, a small cheese factory or even do the multi-day Quilotoa traverse hiking trail.
Used to the rain: sheep at Quilotoa
It is also worth mentioning that the infrastructure, public transportation system and the roads in the area have vast room for improvement. There seem to be no good hostels at Quilotoa itself (though they were building some it seemed), so people go to Chuchilan instead. But the paved road ends at Quilotoa and there are no buses out of Chugchilan during the day it seems — the one that takes you there from Latacunga and arrives in the afternoon leaves the next day, but at 4 a.m. Yes, that is a.m. You can hire trucks to the crater lake from the hostels though.
View from Chugchilan in good weather
We ended up hitchhiking out of Chugchilan to Sigchos on our way back to Latacunga because we did not want to leave at 4 a.m., which worked pretty good.