Photographer's Note

Laguna de Cuicocha, 3350m
Superb site located at about 20 kilometers from Otavalo. This site is not visited by a lot of tourists. I strongly suggest you taking one day to make the loop aroud the crater. It is also possible to approach Cotacachi, 4940m, ideal excursion to acclimatize ourselves.

Funny story!
We spent 3 nights to Los Pinos of Cuicocha. We ask Jorge, our host, if it is dangerous to make the loop around the lagoon my girlfriend and I. He answers that it is not dangerous but suggests us leaving with a 2 foot long machete! It seems that this was a good idea because we did not see anyone all day long!

Cuicocha is a three kilometre (1.9-mile) wide caldera and crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano in the Cordillera Occidental of the Ecuadorian Andes. The caldera was created by a massive phreatic eruption about 3100 years ago that generated about 5 cubic kilometres (6.54 billion cubic yards) of pyroclastic flow and covered the surrounding area in volcanic ash up to 20 cm (8 inches) deep. The volcano has been dormant since that time. In combination with other eruptions from nearby Imbabura, Mojanda, Cotacachi, and Cayambe, Cuicocha is responsible for the fertile soil of the Otavalo valley.

The crater lake within the Cuicocha caldera contains four dacitic lava domes which form two steep forested islands: Yerovi, the smaller, and Teodoro Wolf, the larger. People are prohibited on both. The rim of the caldera is extremely steep – so steep, in fact, that the accumulation of sediment is insufficient for most hydrophyte vegetation. An older cretaceous lava dome from the Pleistocene forms part of the eastern rim. The lake, which is 200 m (656 feet) deep at its deepest point, is highly alkaline and contains little life. It has no known outlet.

The intra-caldera islands, on the other hand, support some wildlife, most notably the Silvery Grebe, which lives around the reeds and feeds on algae. The bird is found in upper temperate and lower páramo zones throughout the Andes, but little is known about the species. In 1974 a census was taken of the population of grebes at Cuicocha and 44 birds were found.

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Additional Photos by Simon NoName (sssimon) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 79 W: 54 N: 124] (684)
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