Guinea pig lake

Guinea pig lake – also known as Cuicocha – is a volcano crater lake located near to Otavalo. Crater lakes are cool – so we thought we had better visit this one, as it only takes an hour to get there from Otavalo.

It is called ‘Guinea pig’ lake because one of the islands in the middle of the lake supposedly resembles the shape of a guinea pig. Guinea pigs are important to people in the Andes, because they are part of their traditional diet.

There is a 14km loop trail around the whole crater, and the altitude ranges from around 3100m up to 3500m. It all sounded straightforward enough – so off we went!

The trail starts close to the lake and gradually ascends to the far side of the crater which is much higher up – as the crater is lopsided, so to speak. From the start of the trail you can’t see the islands in the lake.

View of the lake from the start of the trail.
Information sign for the trail.
CC sets off along the rim of the crater.
Looking back down the trail.

We were eager to get our first overhead glimpse of the islands – to see if one of them really DID look like a guinea pig! 🙂

View of the lake. The blobs on the top-right are the two islands – you can’t even tell that they are islands yet – never mind guinea pigs!
View from the crater in the other direction.

When we did the walk, we actually thought that BOTH the islands were meant to resemble guinea pigs… it turns out that only one of them really does – if you use your imagination! 🙂

However, in our minds both islands were meant to be guinea pigs – so in order to entertain CC, I decided to shout out ‘HOLA CHICOS!’ (translates more or less as ‘Hi guys!’ ) everytime we saw the ‘guinea pigs’.

To be honest, I think this actually entertained me a lot more than it did CC 🙂 🙂 I think she was probably just glad that I stopped saying ‘I can see the Andes’ for a little while….:-)

HOLA CHICOS! View of the two islands – the one at the back is meant to be the guinea pig. Yes – from this angle they look like one island…
HOLA CHICOS! Our first glimpse of the guinea pig island where you can see its shape properly – clearly it looks like a guinea pig – no?
View into the wilderness from the back of the crater.
View of the trail.
HOLA CHICOS! Another view of the islands.

During the first part of the walk the trail pretty much stayed on the rim – so we could see the lake and islands most of the time. When it got to the far side of the rim, it went off down a valley to cross a small river, and passed through quite pleasant forest and fields.

Cows on the trail.
HOLA CHICOS! We are about three-quarters of the way around the lake.
CC on the trail.
Another volcano in the distance.
HOLA CHICOS! The last glimpse of our guinea pig friends.

The walk took us around four and a half hours including our lunch stop – and although the lake itself was quite a bit smaller than the crater lake at Quilotoa – and so not as spectacular – it was still a really enjoyable walk, and it was nice to see the islands from lots of different angles.

So, after a quick visit to the information centre, we said ‘ADIOS CHICOS!”, and we were on our way back to Otavalo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *