Volcanic Lagoons: a Great Route from Otavalo

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Mojanda with Budget

Getting to Mojanda from Pichincha is quite the adventure, but it requires a 4x4 car. There are amazing off-road routes, but they are difficult to come by and can only be guaranteed during the dry season (July to October). These expedition are reserved for those seeking a high-stakes adrenaline rush in their travels. For the rest of us, there is a wonderful cobblestone path —comfortable and scenic— that leads us to the Mojanda lagoons from Otavalo. It’s much more accessible than any of the other options to reach these prodigious paramo-lands. So, keep reading as we share with you all about our most recent Budget experience on this incredible Mojanda route!

We rented a Volkswagen Tiguan —a great ride, though you can also rent models with tents!; for this adventure, we brought our own tents to spend the night at such a spectacular destination.

If you visit on a Saturday, you can stop by the fantastic Mercado de Ponchos (Otavalo poncho fair)... visit some of the craft workshops in the area. Check out our previous Budget article for an incredible route to discover the authentic talent of Otavaleños in their house-workshops; learn the traditional heritage of these lands: how the locals weave, make dream catchers, or beautiful bamboo instruments from some of the most important artisan families in the region.

After an afternoon rich in cross-cultural experiences with talented musicians and weavers, prepare to climb the mountain located west of the city of Otavalo (it is clearly signposted from the road), turning left when coming from Quito or from the south.

Before reaching the Mojanda lake complex, think to make a brief stopover at the spectacular cascada de Taxopamba (Taxopamba waterfall). With beautiful boulders and rocky walls, amazing and vertical gardens that accompany the stealthy water, a great instagrammable destination awaits.

From Otavalo, the ascent to Mojanda takes about 15 minutes. We advance from the temperate zone up to the extensive golden grasslands of the mountains surrounding the lakes, amazing landscapes that open up majestically as one approaches the main lake, Laguna Grande, also known as Caricocha (there are two other lagoons: Laguna Chiquita (Warmicocha) and Yanacocha).

From here, one can head out in many directions and hike or camp (like we did); there are even those who bring inflatable boats or kayaks and navigate the lake, a superb environment amid volcanoes.

Another unforgettable activity, which we recommend you do the day after when you camp, is climb. From Caricocha, we have the possibility of reaching the top of volcán Fuya Fuya (Mount Fuya Fuya), an undemanding ascent that can take a total of four hours round trip.

For a more longer (yet flatter) hike, through low paramo vegetation, venture towards Cerro Negro (Black Hill).

Both sites offer fantastic viewpoints of the entire area. 

Mojanda is undoubtedly offers great adventure, another Budget destination!

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