Arrestingly, indescribably, beautiful, but cold and windy - so dress well. Although there are many informal restaurants just inside the gate to the crater parking area, the selections are limited - you may not be able to get something hot to drink outside of meal times, for example. You can walk, ride or drive to Quilatoa. We caught a ride to the laguna from Chugchilán - almost an hour. The road is beautiful from the back of a pick-up truck. You can walk out - almost all uphill, but much of the road was unpaved and vehicles raised clouds of dust. The laguna is high and fully exposed and we were happy to have our sunglasses and 60 factor sun block. Make sure that you have lots of water if you do as we did and hiked back to Chugchilán (about 5 hours) through fields, meadows of alpine flowers and woods to the village of Guayama below.
Beautiful: Yes; Easy: No:
The return trail to Chugchilán starts out from the crater car park and skims the rim of the crater. From there it descends, unmarked and uncertain down sometimes heavily eroded terrain. The trail often divides into different threads and it is very easy to become disoriented. It turns out that those people in Chugchilán who told us how easy it was eventually admitted that they had never actually done the hike. If you are fortunate, you will run into local people hiking out to the main road or boys with herds of sheep, or a distant house that you can hail out for information on right path. We had to do this several times. At the bottom of the hill the trail emerges in the village of Guayama, where there are a few shops and, supposedly, a place to stay the night. Outside the village, the trail finds the edge of one of the arms of the Toachi canyon that separates Guayama from Chugchilán. It plunges quickly over what seemed at least 2,000 feet and rises steeply on the other side to arrive, tired, on the outskirts of Chugchilán. The canyon trek is is tough: hot and dusty and physically difficult. Great views of the Illinizas reinforced (for me) memories of the Nepali Himalaya. People along the way are curious and chatty.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.