Laguna Cuicocha

Attractions & Activities In Otavalo Market


The name Laguna Cuicocha, meaning Guinea Pig Lake, may conjure up images of swimming rodents, but you won’t find any here. It actually comes from the two-humped island in the middle of this caldera, which does bear a passing resemblance to the critter. Guinea pigs or cuy as they are locally known are one of the most important food sources in the region, and when locals saw the shape of this island, they took it as a sign that this area was special. To this day, native shamans bathe in the waters on the second day of Inti Raymi (winter solstice festival) every June as a form of ritual cleansing.

The caldera and lake are the result of a 3,000-year old volcanic eruption, and are now a popular spot for walks and hikes. An 11-mile trail runs along the rim of the caldera, providing stellar views of the still lake waters and the snow-encircled Cotacachi Volcano.

Laguna Cuicocha is located just 14 miles northwest of Otavalo and is well worth making a detour for if you’re in the region.

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