Sigchos --> Isinlivi --> Chugchilan --> Quilotoa
Isinlivi, a small village in the Andean mountains, is the second destination you’ll find on the Quilotoa Loop.
The hike from Sigchos to Isinlivi is absolutely breathtaking and is the easiest hike of the entire Quilotoa Loop. I was in awe of the beautiful, lush green landscapes we saw the entire way. Coming from Colorado, I have never seen so many green pastures at this altitude.
The town itself is quite small with just a few attractions to check out. I’d say the hiking in the area is the best part. If you have a drone, bring it!
The main reason why travelers extend their stay in Isinlivi for multiple days is because of LluLlu Llama — one of the best hostels I’ve ever visited.
Where to Stay
It’s definitely a no-brainer when looking for a place to stay in Isinlivi. LluLlu Llama is the main hostel in the tiny town. It practically takes up 1/3 of the town, so you can’t miss it.
I’ve stayed in over 100 hostels as an avid backpacker and I can confidently say that this is one of the top 3 best hostels I’ve visited.
Here are some of the things I look for in a good hostel:
1. Good food
When you’re on the road, it’s the little things that make your day a whole lot better. In my case, a good meal can make any bad travel day 100% better. Not only does LluLlu Llama provide really affordable accommodation, you also receive an unforgettable dinner and breakfast.
I cannot stress this enough. Everything is fresh. So fresh. Fresh cheese, fruit, granola, eggs, bread, everything. The family-style breakfast will keep you going on your entire hike to Chugchilan.
They’ll even make a packed lunch for you with homemade cheese and bread if you make a request.
What makes a hostel unforgettable aren’t the amenities it comes with – it’s the atmosphere; the personality of the place.
The moment you walk into LluLlu Llama, you feel at home. After a long day of hiking and perhaps getting caught in the rain, the free coffee and roaring fireplace is the perfect welcome gift. The atmosphere of LluLlu Llama is bright, colorful, and homey – something we travelers crave when we are on the road.
With a variety of lounge areas, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with other travelers. The family-style dinners make it easy to meet people as well.
Of course, Baloo the St. Bernard was our favorite buddy at LluLlu Llama. He always brought a smile to the travelers’ faces and welcomed everyone who entered.
The best experiences I have had in hostels are with the staff. The staff have the most important job when setting the atmosphere in a hostel.
I was lucky enough to become close with some of the staff of LluLlu Llama as I taught them English (and their children) for a few weeks.
This was a great way to connect with more locals and get to know the people of LluLlu Llama.
All of the staff are incredibly helpful and hospitable. They will help you plan custom tours to visit vineyards, learn to make cheese, visit farms, they might even go on a hike with you.
I haven’t even mentioned the amenities at LluLlu Llama.
There’s a hot tub! Yes, a private hot tub that you can reserve for yourself. The private rooms have breathtaking views, but if you’re on a budget, the dormitories are fabulous as well. There are HOT showers. That’s always a treat for the budget backpackers. Free coffee & tea, free water refills (you can’t drink tap water in Ecuador), and access to some of the most beautiful hikes in the area.
If there was a place I would visit again, I would 100% be on a flight to Ecuador right now to see everyone in Isinlivi.
A wonderful experience.
What To Do in Isinlivi
Make some cheese! –> You can watch the process of making cheese and even make some yourself. Like most attractions in Isinlivi, the cheese tours are arranged through LluLlu Llama. I highly recommend trying the cheese-making adventure. It gives you a whole new appreciation for cheese.
Milk a cow –> If you befriend a farmer in the Isinlivi area, I’m sure they’ll give you a chance to milk a cow. Just like Sigchos, the farmers are incredibly friendly and open to sharing about their work. Even if you don’t get a chance to milk a cow, you’ll certainly bump into a few along the hike from Sigchos to Isinlivi.
Take a hike –> Before skipping town for Chugchilan, spend a day or two exploring the hikes around Isinlivi. They are absolutely breathtaking and so much fun. You can ask the reception at LluLlu Llama for advice on the best hikes.
Visit Rosita’s Farm–> Rosita is a 74-year-old (or so she’s been saying for the past 5 years) woman who has been living in Isinlivi her entire life. She is completely self sustainable with her farm. She’ll happily show you around her farm and share about her life. She picked some mortinos for us and showed us her guinea pigs (!!) and rabbits.
How to Get There — From Sigchos
I taught English lessons in Sigchos and Isinlivi, so my commute was this 2 – 3 hour hike.
Coming from Sigchos, you’ll take the hiking trail just past Starlight Inn towards Isinlivi. Follow the red arrows along the path. It’s easy to get lost, so be sure to download Maps.Me before heading out. Google Maps won’t work for you.
The hike takes you across the river and up a few cow pastures. Take your time and enjoy it – it’s such a beautiful trip!
Travel Tip: Grab a chocolate covered banana at Starlight Inn Cafe before you leave Sigchos. Best hiking fuel!
After Isinlivi — what’s next?
Most people coming to Isinlivi are on their way to Quilotoa and it’s their second pitstop along the Quilotoa Loop, just after Sigchos. After Isinlivi, your next destination will be Chugchilan.
Post on Chugchilan coming soon!